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The Mystery of the Octavius

 Maritime lore abounds with stories of ghost ships. And while a number of tales have been passed on through generations, one of the eeriest stories has to be the mystery of the Octavius. The story commences in 1761 with the Octavius docked in the port of London to transport cargo to China. The majestic sailing ship left the port with a full crew, the skipper as well as his wife and son. 
 
 
ghost ship stories

Upon arriving safely in China, they unloaded their cargo and headed back to sea with goods destined for the UK. As the weather was unusually warm, the captain decided to sail home via the Northwest Passage, a voyage which at the time hadn't been accomplished. This was the last that anyone had heard of the vessel and consequently, Octavius was declared lost. On October 11 1775, the whaling ship Herald was working the frigid waters off Greenland when it spotted a sailing ship. 

Upon nearing the ship, the crew saw that the ship was in bad shape. it appeared to be weather beating and the sails were tattered and torn, hanging limply on the masts. The captain of the Herald ordered a boarding party to search the vessel, which they had then discovered was the Octavius. Upon searching the deck, they found the boat deserted. 

They descended into the ship's hatch and were met with a terrifying site - an entire 28-man crew frozen to death in their quarters. In the captain's cabin, they found the captain seated at his desk, a pen in hand, with the ship's logbook open in front of him. The inkwell and other everyday items were still in their place on the desk. They also saw a woman wrapped in a blanket on the bunk, frozen to death with the body of a young boy. 

ghost ship stories

Terrified, the crew grabbed the ship's log and fled. As they rushed off, they had lost the middle pages of the logbook which were frozen solid and had come loose from the bookbinding. They arrived on the Herald with just the first and last pages of the logbook. This was enough for the master of the Herald to determine at least a part of the story of the voyage. In it, they discovered that the captain of the Octavius had tried to navigate the Northwest Passage, but his ship had become imprisoned in the ice of the Arctic. 

 

The ship's last recorded position was 75N 160W, placing the Octavius 250 miles north of Barrow, Alaska. The Octavius had been found off the coast of Greenland, and it was believed to have broken loose from the ice and some stage. The crew of the Herald were frightened that the Octavius was cursed, so they left it adrift and to this day, it has never been sighted again. 

Author David Meyer has tried to track down the story of the Octavius and in his blog, he has considered the idea that the Octavius could be the same ship as the Gloriana, which was boarded in 1775 by the captain John Warrens. He recorded that he found a frozen crew that had been dead for 13 years and that the date of the discovery was spookily similar to the Octavius incident. Could they be tales of the same vessel? At this point, we do not know. 

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