From Crime Reads: A BRIEF HISTORY OF GHOST SHIPS
What a great topic! Who doesn’t love ghost ships, right?
Oh, I see this post differentiates between “ghost ships” — physical vessels that have been found mysteriously deserted — and “phantom ships,” which are ships that don’t physically exist. Well, I was thinking of the latter. Do you remember that wonderful scene in The Dark is Rising series where the phantom ship sails in and over the town? I think that’s in Greenwich, which is no one’s favorite in the series, but that particular scene gave me chills.
There’s also a great ghost ship in McKillip’s The Bell at Sealey Head — although in that case, fictional. What an interesting story that is. That’s the one of McKillips where the main pov characters have no effect on the plot, which I didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me. I liked it very much. I notice that at the moment, the hardcover is six bucks while the Kindle version is $13, which I’m sure makes perfect sense to someone in Ace’s marketing department.
But back to the linked post:
…the mystery of the Mary Celeste, perhaps the most famous of ghost ships. The Mary Celeste left New York on November 5, 1872 with a crew of seven, along with the captain’s wife and their young daughter.
Yes, that’s certainly the most famous ghost ship. Here’s one I hadn’t heard of:
One of my favorite ghost ships is the Baychimo. In 1931, the vessel became trapped in the ice—a common theme—and the crew temporarily abandoned it, seeking shelter in a nearby settlement. Eventually, it freed itself and the crew returned, but then it became stuck once more. Then a blizzard struck, and the ship vanished. The crew assumed it had sunk. However, they later learned it was adrift. After boarding the Baychimo, they retrieved their valuable cargo and left the ship behind, assuming it was no longer seaworthy. … But the Baychimo sailed on…for thirty-eight years. The last sighting was in 1969, when the Baychimo was frozen again in the pack ice. However, she hasn’t been seen since. And her wreck has never been found.
You know, this post about ghost ships could be subtitled: Do Not Sail To Antarctica. You’d think the possibility of getting your ship frozen into ice would firmly discourage such voyages, but there are a fair number of examples, apparently.
I still prefer phantom ships! If you can think of a good SFF example, by all means drop it in the comments. Ditto for SF ghost ships, actually, because I’m sure there must be many mysteriously empty and abandoned ships scattered through the space in science fiction.