Do you believe in ghosts? Ever encounter an other-worldly spirit who just couldn’t resist scaring the bejessus out of you? Some scientists say hauntings are very much real and that they are done either by a soul who has a message for us, or someone who has difficulty crossing over to the other side.
And if you think hauntings are just for landlubbing ghosts and spirits, you better fasten your seatbelts. Well, better make that your life vest because you’re about to be thrown feet first into the sea of the supernatural.
Take the Ourang Medan, a Dutch freighter haunted by mystery as it floated near the Strait of Malacca sometime in the nineteen forties. When the City of Baltimore and the Silver Star picked up an SOS on their radios, they responded. But it was the Silver Star that arrived first. What their boarding party discovered, shocked even the most hardened seaman.
Disfigured corpses littered the deck everywhere. Even the carcass of a dog was found. On their faces were the most hideous expressions as if what they had just witnessed was too horrible to speak of. Was it Pirates? A mutiny? Not a trace of violence could be found on any of the sailors. No stab wounds. No blood. Nothing. Just the mangled corpses of the entire crew.
Before the boarding party could investigate further, a screaming explosion ripped the ship’s hull apart, and crew members were forced to return to their ship. Some authorities hypothesize that the ship was carrying sulfuric acid and when water finally came in contact with it, it exploded.
Still others surmise the mariners aboard the Ourang Medan had been duped into carrying a cargo far deadlier than they might have imagined. During World War II, the Japanese had stored nerve gas on mainland China. The U.S. military unable to ship the deadly cargo without leaving a paper trail used the unsuspecting mariners aboard a merchant vessel.
Could the story be true? Or is there an even more sinister explanation? Dead men tell no tales.
The Lady Lovibond sailed the seas half a world away off the coast of England when she met her end on the eve of Valentine’s Day 1748. It was a tale of jealousy and hatred that had dire consequences. Having married his beautiful bride just recently, Captain Simon Reed took her and some close friends on a cruise to celebrate their happy occasion. Unfortunately, a jealous suitor could not contain his rage. Taking a belay pin on the deck, he clubbed the man at the ship’s wheel over the head, splitting his skull.
His vicious attack was just the beginning. While passengers wined and dined below deck, the murderer steered the ship into the Goodwind Sands an area in Southeast England notorious for dangerous shoals and shipwrecks.
It seems the ship appears every fifty years on the anniversary of the murderous tragedy. Occasionally, local fishermen spot the ship wrapped in a green haze foundering. When they go to save them, the ship always vanishes. Could sober, hardworking fishermen make this up? If you’re hungry for more, look for details in my upcoming book Uncommon Mariners.
I’ll leave you with one last story, a ship most people are familiar with. The Queen Mary. This magnificent ocean liner first sailed from England in 1936 and made her last voyage from Southhampton, England to Long Beach, California in 1967 where she became a hotel with a museum and an assortment of restaurants. Though a British ship, oddly enough she was placed on America’s National Register of Historic Places.
It’s hard to believe that this posh, elegant ship, furnished with the most extravagant accoutrements, was retrofitted into a troopship during World War II carrying over 16,000 soldiers in one voyage. Because she was nearly invisible to German subs and her new paint job, she was nicknamed the Gray Ghost.
She was also utilized to carry wounded POW’s and soldiers back to the United States after the war. The number of civilians who died on the ship while she was in operation has been put at forty-nine. This does not include soldiers who died on their way home from the war.
The ship has a reputation of being haunted and has been investigated by various paranormal groups. My suggestion to you is simple. Should you be offered to stay in cabin B 326, decline. You might be offered the same cabin under the guise of B340 to fool you. Still decline. The cabin was the scene of a violent murder, and evidently the victim is still unhappy about it. I don’t think your presence will make him any happier.
Other eerie occurrences involve the laughter of children on parts of the ship when no one is there and a woman in white who vanishes when approached.
Halloween often evokes that part of our psyche to explore mysteries that baffle explanation. But ghosts and spirits know no season. Even Scrooge’s Marley appears at the most unusual time of Christmas. How about you? Have you ever encountered an inexplicable occurrence that made your skin crawl? Landlubber or salty dog, you might want to turn an extra light on tonight. You never know what thing is going to go bump in the night! Or bump into you.
The Uncommon Mariner