You have seen them in scary pirate movies or shows. You may know a few of the legends but as in most cases real life can be scarier than the fantasy tales we are told. With that in mind I came up with a list of the ten creepiest Ghost ship Legends to haunt the seas. Keep these little gems in the back of your head next time you go on cruise vacation and decide to look over the high seas at night.
The SS Valencia was an iron-hulled passenger steamer that sunk of the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia in 1906 killing 100 people, including women and children. The events of steamers sinking was so dramatic local Native American claimed to have seen a lifeboat with eight skeletons in a nearby sea cave at the shoreline of Pachena Bay months after its sinking. Local fisherman also reported sightings of lifeboats being rowed by skeletons of Valencia’s victims. Over the years several sightings of a ghost ship resembling the SS Valencia have been reported by sailors near Pachena Point along with sightings of ghost drowning victims.
This ghost ship was originally an American merchant brigantine discovered deserted and adrift on December 5th 1872 in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Azores Islands. Her discoverers found no one aboard but the ship had partial sail up, all the provisions still onboard, lifeboat missing and the last entry in her log was dated ten days earlier. The crew had never been found. Theories came out as to what possibly happened from foul play, to natural events, to insurance fraud, sea monsters, paranormal abduction and accidents. No one really knows what exactly happened to the crew but the Mary Celeste is one of the most famous ghost ship tales in maritime history that continues to baffle investigators today.
The SS Baychimo was a steel-hulled 1,322 ton cargo steamer that became a ghost ship on October 1st 1931 when the crew abandoned her after she was trapped in in pack ice less than a mile from Barrow, Alaska. The crew left the ship and returned later to salvage her but it had broken free from the ice and floated away. Several attempts to find the ship were made but the Captain determined the ship had sunk and abandoned the search. The SS Baychimo became a true ghost ship as it did not sink but was sighted or boarded several times from 1932 to 1969. Each time the weather was bad and the ship could not be salvaged and was reclaimed by artic storms. It became known as the “Ghost Ship of the Artic”.
Also known as the ‘Ghost Yacht’ found adrift off the north-eastern coast of Australia on April 20th 2007, the three man crew was never found. When authorities boarded the Yacht they found the condition eerily in place as the engines were still running, table wear was laid out, a computer was turned on, the anchor was up, the radios were working, the life preservers were in place and the life boats were all accounted for. It was as if the three men simply vanished into thin air mid-way through their cruise. What made it even spookier was a forensic investigator was brought onboard the ship and found no evidence of foul play. There have multiple theories trying to explain what happened to these men, from Sandbars, to freak waves, to paranormal, to alien abduction, to rough seas, to drunken drownings but nothing has been proven. With so much technology available it is extra spooky to know that even in modern times Ghost ships are still showing up and we can’t explain them.
The Flying Dutchman
This the mythical ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. The myth probably originated from 17th-century folklore. The oldest version have been dated to the 18th century. In the 19th and 20th centuries reports of the ghost ship describe it to be glowing with ‘ghostly light’. If hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman will try to send messages to land, or to people long dead. In ocean lore, the sight of this ghost ship means doom for entire crew.
Superstition or not, this has been one of the longest running ghost stories on the high seas and classic among the modern arts. Even today it is spooky to think about being on a cruise ship looking over board to see a distant green glowing ship full of the dead waiving back at you.
In Japan the Funayūrei are ghosts that have become vengeful spirits at sea. They are said to be the remnants of people who have died in shipwrecks and are attempting to cause humans to join them. Their appearance as depicted in legends varies widely depending on the area.
In 1954, after the Toya Maru accidentally sank of the shore of Hakodate killing 1159 people, the ferryboats that went into commission after the accident were discovered to have a strange scar on their propeller, providing for rumors to spread about how the victims of the accident turned into funayurei and dug claws into the propellers.
Other rumors say a female would appear completely wet riding in a taxi, who would disappear once one reaches the destination, and who was rumored to be the ghost of Toya Maru. Also, in Aomori Station, the staff members who slept in the night duty room would wake up at the sound of banging on the glass window, and would see the hand of the completely wet female on the other side. They got startled that “Toya Maru’s victims were pleading for help,” and the next morning, there would be a promissory note remaining on that glass window.
The Octavius was an 18th century ghost ship. It was found west of Greenland by the whaler Herald on October 11, 1775. The five-man boarding party found the entire crew of 28 below deck frozen and perfectly preserved. The captain’s body was still sitting at the table in his cabin writing into his log! In his cabin there were also a frozen woman, a boy covered with a blanket, and a sailor with a tinderbox. The boarding party were too freaked out to search the rest of the ship and only took the captains log. The last entry in the log was from November 11, 1762, dating the ship lost in the Arctic for 13 years.
The Lady Lovibond
The story of this ghost ship began with love, jealousy and finally the murder of the entire crew. Or was murder the last chapter of this tale?
The first supposed sighting of the phantom Lady Lovibond on 13 February 1798 was reported by at least two ships, the Edenbridge captained by James Westlake, and a fishing shack. Its alleged in the 1848 appearance convinced local seamen that a wreck had occurred – they sent out lifeboats in hopes of rescuing the survivors, but nothing was found. Captain Bull Prestwick allegedly sighted her in 1948, and reported that she looked real, but gave off an eerie green glow. You can decide if this story will continue.
The MV Joyita was a merchant ship found at sea in 1955 with its 25 passengers and crew members had mysteriously vanished. The radio was functioning, and although the ship was in bad condition it was not sinking. The mystery of what happened to the passengers and crew was never solved although multiple theories were developed to include an injury to the Captain, insurance fraud, Japanese involvement and even a mutiny. The Joyita soon developed a reputation of being an unlucky and possibly haunted ship as it was purchased and resold several times. Every owner had misfortune with the ship as it either ran a ground or sank. It eventually was taken apart and disappeared.
The HMS Eurydice was a Royal Navy corvette and is considered one of Britain’s worst naval disasters when she sank in 1878. On 24 March 1878 the Eurydice was caught in a heavy snow storm off the Isle of Wight, capsized and sank. Only two of the ship’s 319 crew survived, most died of exposure in the freezing waters. The Captain after giving the order to every man to save himself went down with his ship. As a twist of fate one of the witnesses to the disaster from the shore was a young Winston Churchill.
The Ghost Ship HMS Eurydice has been sighted by sailors for years since her sinking. In October 1998, Prince Edward of the United Kingdom saw the ship off the Isle of Wight while filming for the television series “Crown and Country”. There is also a story from a Royal Navy submarine which took evasive action to avoid the ship only for it to disappear.