5 Spooky Maritime Mysteries

From the Mary Celeste, to the Flying Dutchman, there are hundreds of maritime mysteries famous in sailing circles.

28th Oct 2019

We’re usually focused on sharing amazing charter offers, destination and sailing guides here at LateSail, but we also love a good maritime yarn.

For some Halloween fun we thought we would share five spooky nautical mysteries including the supposed tale of the haunted LateSail UK offices!



Maria Soleil, Senior Marketing Executive

Mary Celeste

What happened to Mary Celeste is a famous maritime mystery

Captain Benjamin Briggs boarded the Mary Celeste along with his wife, child and crew, for a transatlantic journey from New York to Genoa on 7 November 1872. 

A month later on December 5 she was found floating off the coast of Portugal, with none of her seven crew on board and no lifeboat present. There is no explanation for the disappearance of the crew; the weather was reportedly good and no distress signal was sent.

There are multiple theories about what happened to the 100ft brigantine. 

Carroll A. Deering

Caroll A. Deering was found off Cape Hatteras

Featuring among the most famous maritime mysteries, the Carroll A. Deering was found run aground on a shoal off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1921.

The five-masted cargo schooner set sail from Norfolk, Virginia to Rio de Janeiro on September 8 1920 but it was the return leg to North America that was to be her last voyage.

She was found wrecked with no crew on January 31 1921, two days after her last contact with land. Even after six investigations by the US Government, no conclusive explanation has been given for what happened.

Palatine Light

Block Island

This 18th century ghost ship legend originates from a true story – the shipwreck of Princess Augusta which sank off Rhode Island in the US on December 27, 1738. There are several versions about what happened, but one is that the crew abandoned ship and rowed to shore while leaving the passengers to save themselves.

The legend of the Palatine Light derives from the Princess Augusta. It is an apparition that is said to appear off Block Island, and when seen it bursts into flames and sinks. 

Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman has reportedly been sighted countless times at sea

Arguably the most famous ghost ship legend, the tale of the Flying Dutchman has been featured in fictional works such as Pirates of the Caribbean, literature and music. The cursed ship, which is destined to sail the seas forever, is infamous as being a harbinger of doom at sea.

It is thought the myth comes from the time of the 17th century Dutch East India Company and thousands of sailors in the 19th and 20th centuries have claimed to see the ghostly sight of the ship glowing with light.

The haunted home of LateSail UK

Chatham Dockyard UK
HMS Gannet at Chatham Dockyard - LateSail's UK office

A land-based mystery closer to home features the site of LateSail’s UK office, in Chatham Dockyard, England.

Our building – an old joiner’s shop – is said to be haunted by horses as well as a teenage girl who is waiting for her lover to return from sea.

The ghost of Lord Nelson has supposedly been spotted here too. Spooky.

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