Last Wednesday, Australian rescuers spotted a 36-foot catamaran adrift about 80 nautical miles off the coast of Townsville, which is on the northeast coast of the country. But unlike other rescued boats, this one was a bit odd.
Rescuers found no sign of the three-man crew on the catamaran, but they did find other odd evidences of life. The engine was running, the table was set as if someone were ready to eat, there was a laptop computer that was turned on, and all the boat’s electronics such as global positioning satellite (GPS) and radio were working. The rescuers do know that the crew had started out at Queenland state and they were headed for Australia’s west coast. There were also three lifejackets on board and an emergency beacon, but the life rafts were missing.
The rescuers have described the ghost ship they found as similar to the Mary Celeste. The Mary Celeste was a ship found off the coast of Portugal in 1872. There were supposed to be ten people on board, including the Captain’s wife and daughter, but no one was found after another ship noticed the Mary Celeste floating aimlessly at sea. Once aboard, a rescuer noted that the ship “was a thoroughly wet mess” but that it seemed in good condition otherwise. Several doors were open, the clock was not working, and the compass had been destroyed. Because the sextant and chronometer were missing along with the only lifeboat, rescuers thought the ship might have been intentionally abandoned. But why? Because none of the crew or passengers was ever found, rumors have circulated for years. Some thought maybe the crew mutinied or pirates attacked the ship. But, most of the ship’s cargo was onboard, dismissing the pirate theory. If the crew did mutiny, they may have left the ship on the lifeboat, only to be lost at sea during a storm. Regardless of what happened, the fact that no one really knows the truth leads nautical experts to think of the Mary Celeste when an abandoned ship is found.
Australian officials have said the weather on the sea was rough last Sunday and Monday. The GPS system has been retrieved and will be analyzed to see if it gives up any clues.