The Haunting and Disquieting History of The Ghost Ship
Although more commonly known as 'The Ghost Ship', this vessel was originally named
the Banshee. For many years it transported tea and opium from China to Boston Harbor.
Then, in 1837, it was purchased by a man named Nathan Scarch.
Records indicate the Banshee set sail for East India in the summer of 1838 with a crew
of twenty-eight sailors and five officers under Captain Scarch's command. The ship was
scheduled to return within two years. After five years had passed, the ship was declared
lost. There is no record of the Banshee ever returning to port.
But that isn't to say the Banshee was never seen again. In the year 1884, a whaling
vessel off the coast of Australia encountered a heavy bank of fog, and reported sighting
the Banshee adrift in the fog, apparently with no crew aboard. The Banshee was again
sighted in 1927 by a cruise ship off the coast of Bermuda, once more drifting in heavy
fog and with no sign of any crew aboard. Similar sightings have been reported many times,
the most startling account coming from the S.S. Fleming, a Norwegian fishing vessel that
encountered the Banshee in 1972.
The Fleming was traveling through heavy fog when the outline of an ancient tall-ship
came into view. There was no sign of anyone aboard and the ship appeared to be in an
advanced state of decay. Numerous planks were missing or rotted, and the crew of the
Fleming were amazed that this crumbling wooden ship could still be afloat. Pulling
alongside, the captain of the Fleming sent a search party of three men aboard the
Banshee. When they failed to return, eight more men were sent to investigate. The
original three crewmen were never found. The Banshee's log book and a personal journal
belonging to one of the Banshee's crewmen were recovered. The Fleming's crew then tied
heavy ropes to the Banshee and began towing it towards their destination. But the fog grew
thicker, causing the Fleming to lose sight of the Banshee in spite of it's close proximity.
The ropes then went slack. They were no longer tied to anything.
The journal recovered from the Banshee is reproduced below:
July 16, 1838
I promised I would write in this book to learn my writin better. These words don't
sound much like me but I promised Miss Trudy I would practice my writin. I don't think
I like this Capt. Scarch too much, seems awful mean to everybody. Made us all sign some
paper we couldn't read when we signed aboard and that probably don't mean nothin but it
is odd. This writin hurts my hand.
September 21, 1838
We was supposed to be bound for the Indies but we ain't. I know my stars for navigatin
and we ain't headin the right direction at all. Capt. Scarch shot two men for not workin
hard enough. We wanted to have a funeral but the Capt. says there ain't no use because
them two dead men ain't goin nowhere anyhow. Don't know what he means by that but
it made me feel kinda sick like.
October 10, 1838
We sighted land today. A little island but I can't say where because the stars are all
wrong here. After sundown, Capt. Scarch and his officers took boats to the island but the
crew was told to stay aboard ship. There's a big stone thing near the beach and they're
sayin it's a temple of some kind. We saw the Capt. and his officers go off into the trees
with some people they met on the beach. They was real odd lookin people but we couldn't
see real clear from here.
October 26, 1838
I been watchin at night and when the Capt. and his officers go off into the trees on
the island there's two or three officers that sneak back and run over to that temple
place near the beach. Looks to me like they're takin somthin they shouldn't and they
always come back aboard carryin things they don't want us to see.
October 31, 1838
The Capt. says to be ready to set sail tonight. I don't know why we ought to set sail
at night but that's what he says we got to do. Moon should be real full so I guess we
ought to be able to see what we're doin.
November 1, 1838
I think somethin bad must have happened last night because the Capt. and his officers
came paddlin back fast as they could and there was three boats that followed them part
of the way. I got the feelin them odd lookin folks was chasin the Capt. But they wasn't
wavin their arms around or throwin spears or nothin. It sounded like they was chantin
some kind of chant and I think they was holdin candles. We set sail around midnight and
the wind is real strong right now. It surely feels mighty good to be gettin away from
February 15, 1839
We've been in heavy fog for more than three months. The Capt. says we need to ration
the food because it's runnin low but I don't figure there was ever enough food to begin
with. Half of our supply crates turned out to be empty. And there's talk among the crew
about how we've all been cursed because the Capt. stole somethin off that island. I don't
know what to think but I sure do wish we could get clear of this fog.
May 3, 1839
Half the crew is dead from hunger. Capt. Scarch keeps sayin we're more good to him dead
than alive. Don't know what he means but he laughs when he says it. The first mate started
screamin last night, screamin about how we're all cursed by them islanders and how we
ain't never gonna reach land, not even by sinkin. Capt. Scorch shot him in the head but
we're all still real nervous about them things he said.
June 12, 1839
Us men what's left figure we might ought to kill Capt. Scarch to see if maybe that might
lift the curse. We overpowered his officers and searched his cabin. There was a whole
bunch of these little golden things in his desk. I don't know what they was for but we
threw them all overboard. Right now we got the Capt. tied up on the quarter deck and
he's screamin all sorts of strange words we ain't never heard the likes of before. I figure
he's cursin us all even more but maybe that won't matter if we throw him over.
July 3, 1839
I figure we're done for. We threw the Capt. off the starboard side and we watched him
drown, screamin and cursin. But this fog still ain't never gone away and we still ain't
seen no land anywhere. Food's about gone. I sometimes get to thinkin I should just jump
off the ship and be done with it. But we've been seein a dark shape walkin the decks at
night and we figure it's the ghost of Capt. Scarch. So I don't figure dyin will do me much
good. I've done awful things in this life so I figure I deserves whatever fate I gets but
I surely do wish I had never set foot aboard this horrible terrible ship.
The Banshee's log book, found to contain only a single entry written neatly on the
first page, is reproduced below:
IT SHALL BE MINE.