"In the month of December in the year 1873, the British ship Dei Gratia steered into Gibraltar, having in tow the derelict brigantine Marie Celeste, which had been picked up in latitude 38 degrees 40', longitude 17 degrees 15' W. There were several circumstances in connection with the condition and appearance of this abandoned vessel which excited considerable comment at the time, and aroused a curiosity which has never been satisfied." (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement")
People love mysteries, which is a good thing, since history is so replete with them. This is especially true among seafaring people, and of all the mysteries of the deep, few rise to the level of the Mary Celeste. In many ways it is a story more suited for an episode of The X-Files than it is for any history book. There is the unlucky ship that began her sailing career under a cloud of bad fortune and accident. Then there is the handsome young captain, a man appearing to be of the highest moral fiber, who chose to travel with his wife and young daughter rather than carouse with loose women. His crew was small but faithful, and his first mate was an old friend. They set sail for Genoa late in 1872 but arrived instead in the history books, lost suddenly to a mystery that remains unsolved to this day.
The first indication that anything unusual had happened came on December 5 of that year, when the Mary Celeste was found by another ship, the Dei Gratia, sailing safely and intact but completely devoid of human beings. The bed was unmade and the captain's cabin a bit untidy, but otherwise there was no sign of struggle. Or was there?