True Ghost Story

Ghost ship, abandoned near Bermuda, is drawn by currents and wind to the Sargasso sea where she resists rescue and drifts on silently, perhaps forever . . .

In August, two sailors, out collecting samples of ocean water for their research project, found a 48-foot sailboat drifting silently through the Atlantic Ocean in the waters of the mythical Bermuda Triangle. She was trapped in the legendary Sea of Lost Ships, more properly known as the Sargasso Sea. It’s a vast area of the Atlantic Ocean around Bermuda that is bound by powerful ocean currents on all sides. Compared to the surrounding currents, the Sargasso Sea is a pool of relatively still waters where vast matts of algae called Sargassum form a unique ecosystem. It is said that whatever drifts into it will be held there forever.

When the sailors found the boat, her rigging was a tangled mess and her sails draped in a messy heap across the deck. A ghost ship.

Like the many ghosts in the ocean, a ghost ship can drift for years and travel thousands of miles. Ghost nets, lost or abandoned by fishermen continue to fish the seas for many years. They kill thousands of fish, turtles, dolphin and seal for no purpose at all.

Ghost ships are a source of many legends (anyone see Pirates of the Caribbean?), and a few gruesome true stories. There are more quite a few reports of people finding skeletons in the cabins of abandoned ships at sea. When the two scientists came upon the boat in April, it must have been a little creepy. She was a very expensive sailboat with the name “Wolfhound” pained on her transom. It was clear from her condition that she hadn’t been drifting out there for years. Whatever accident caused her to be there, it was recent. What would they find inside? Had the owner died? Fallen overboard?

It turned out that the boat and her crew had been tossed about in a storm about 70 miles from Bermuda when the stays snapped (the cables connecting the tall mast to the boat). She was unsalable, and the crew, fearing they were in danger, called for rescue. When a Greek ship came to their aid, the crew abandoned her.

The two sailors who found her tried to tow her to Bermuda, the closest land. But that was nearly 700 miles away. They tried, but the effort was too much. She was abandoned once again. The sea claimed “Wolfhound” forever. Perhaps she is still drifting out there.