Saturday Scenes

Wed 8 December 2010

Modern Day Mysteries

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 19:49

On the 4th of December in 1872, the Mary Celeste was discovered drifting with torn sails towards the Straits of Gibraltar. There was no one on board.

The Mary Celeste and the Dei Gratia both took on board cargo at New York and had similar courses planned, through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. The Mary Celeste took on her cargo (1,701 barrels of commercial alcohol bound for Genoa) and left port on the 5th of November. There were ten souls on board, including the captain’s wife and young daughter. The Dei Gratia departed a week later.

The Dei Gratia had an uneventful journey until the afternoon of 4 December 1872, when the crew sighted the Mary Celeste, which should have reached her destination by now. They could not see any crew sailing the ship, nor were there signs of distress. The chief mate boarded the Mary Celeste and reported that the ship was still seaworthy but appeared to have been abandoned: the lifeboat was missing as were the ship’s papers (excepting the log book), the sextant and the marine chronometer. There was a frayed rope found trailing behind the ship.

The stores held plenty of supplies for the journey and personal possessions were untouched. However, when the cargo was unloaded, nine barrels of the alcohol were empty.

The Story of the “Mary Celeste” by Charles Edey Fay – Google Books

To quote Dr. Cobb: “I think that the cargo of alcohol, having been loaded in cold weather at New York, early in November, and the vessel having crossed the Gulf Stream and being now in comparatively warm weather, there may have been some leakage, and gas may have accumulated in the hold. The Captain having care for his wife and daughter, was probably unjustifiably alarmed and, fearing a fire or an explosion, determined to take his people in the boat away from the vessel until the immediate danger should pass.

There were storms reported in the area. According to Fay, Cobb believed that when the wind picked up, the sails filled and the Mary Celeste gathered speed and turned which caused the rope to fray and break.

“When the tow-rope parted, these people were left in an open boat on the ocean as the brig sailed away from them. The wind that took the vessel away may have caused sea enough to wreck them. Nothing has appeared in all these sixty-seven years to tell us of their end.”

Others, however, have pointed out that the hatch was closed and the crew of the Dei Gratia did not report any unexpected issues in the hold, let alone strong fumes. It will probably always be a mystery.

And there’s another mystery that shares the same date…

On the 4th of December 2010, thirty individuals all decided to take interesting photographs of the everyday world around them and every single one is fascinating.

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself:

Take a look at the Twitter streams of our contributors and say hello:

Also check out the Saturday Scenes list which includes everyone who has participated this year.

If you’d like to be included, just take a photograph on a Saturday and send the link to @SatScenes with your location. We’d love to see what you see!

For high quality, completely obligation-free nagging, DM SatScenes with your time zone and preferred nag-time and I’ll drop you a line every Saturday. Never miss a Saturday Scene opportunity again!

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