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Oceanographers rule out cargo theft by pirates, understood that there was a storm on the day, but there is still nothing very clear about the incident
It was on December 5, 1832 in the Azores – a Portuguese archipelago located in the center of the Atlantic Ocean – that members of the Brigada Dei Gratia tribulation sighted a ship adrift at sea. The captain of the vessel, David Morehouse, was surprised to see that the stopped ship was in fact the call of Mary Celeste, who had left New York a few days earlier and should have already reached her destination, Genoa, Italy.
But it didn’t come. Therefore, 188 years after the incident, we still discuss its many mysteries. This is because time has not clarified the speculations raised and little is known about the concrete facts that happened that day.
Although Morehouse sent a vessel to check the situation of the shipwreck, something unheard of was seen: the crew members’ belongings were still in their quarters.
In addition, the load of 1,701 barrels of industrial alcohol was largely intact. There was a supply of food and water for six months, but no one to consume it. The ship’s only lifeboat was missing and one of its two bombs had been dismantled. Five feet of water sank to the bottom of the ship. Everything too unique to be normal.
Because of these reasons, theories were created aiming to constitute a narrative for the end of Mary Celeste. From riots to pirates, from sea monsters to murderous spouts, everything was valid to generate an explanation. Anne MacGregor, the documentary maker who started the investigation, wrote, directed and produced The True Story of ‘Mary Celeste, says she loves “the idea of mysteries, but you should always revisit these things using the knowledge that comes up.”
Since he alone lets us know about the ship on his voyage of November 7, 1872, where he was sailing with seven crew members, Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs, his wife Sarah and the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Sophia.
The 282-ton brigantine battled the heavy weather for two weeks to reach the Azores, where the last entry in the logbook was recorded at 5 am on 25 November. Nothing was declared after this event.
And it is on this hiatus that the crew of Dei Gratia appeared. After ten days, they towed the ship for about 800 miles to Gibraltar, where a British court would convene a rescue hearing, which would determine whether the discoverers were entitled to stay with the found one.
However, the attorney general in charge of the investigation, Frederick Solly-Flood, suspected some damage and possible cheating. After three months, the board found no evidence of foul play. Eventually, the rescuers received a payment, but only a sixth of the $ 46,000 for which the ship and its cargo were worth, demonstrating that the authorities were not entirely convinced of the innocence of Dei Gratia’s crew.
As a result, aiming to untangle this skein of diverse causes and countless suspicions, MacGregor began by asking what in fact could not have happened in the wreck so that it could constitute a clear plot of his film. Since the ship’s conditions, which were intact and fully loaded, a situation that excluded possible pirate assaults. Also to a false hypothesis of a theory discussed in the 19th century where it said that crew members drank alcohol on board and mutinied.
Another question raised supposed that the alcohol vapors expanded in the heat of the Azores and exploded the main hatch, leading those on board to fear an imminent explosion.
She notes, however, that the hatch on the main vessel was safe and did not smell of smoke, and nine of the 1,701 barrels in the hold were empty, but the nine voids were reported to be made of red oak, not white oak like the others. That is, red oak is known to be a more porous wood and, therefore, more prone to leak.
However, the ship was able to sail, it “was not flooded or badly damaged,” says Phil Richardson, a physical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and an expert on abandoned ships, which MacGregor joined in his investigation.
Nevertheless, Solly-Flood’s notes provided another piece of information that they both considered significant: the day before arriving in the Azores, Briggs changed course and headed north of the island of Santa Maria, perhaps seeking refuge. Aside from the fact that he was carrying coal and what construction could stain the ship’s pumps, which would explain the inoperative bomb, it would not be possible to determine the amount of sea water in the hull of his ship, which was too full for him to measure visually.
At that point, says MacGregor, Briggs – having gone through a difficult time, having finally and late sighted the land and having no way of determining whether his ship would sink – could very well have issued an order to abandon the ship. We stop here. Because we don’t know after. Due to the fact that we do not have a peremptory event that determines all this history and puts its due end points, on the contrary, we only have reticence.
Source: Aventuras na Historia