Ghost Stories from the Abyss


Yuri Singleton

I'm sure some of you ghoulish sailor types know some good ghost stories. So here's your chance to spill your guts and feed them to the fishies.

Lets here some tales of horror and fright.
Told round the tiller on a cold moonless night.
Shiver me timbers with a mystery.
As the dead rise up from out of the sea.
Tell me a legend bout an ole wooden leg.
Cut from the splinters of an empty rum keg.
Tell me a tale of horror and fright.
Its Halloween time, the dead sailor's delight.

WOO HA HA HA! (you have to imagine the echos)


"the ghost of the forepeak"

Pat Winship

LOL, Yuri-- are you calling us all a lot of sea-cucumbers? Sea-cukes do that very thing when they get really upset!

Pat W.
Kritina Johnston

Kritina Johnston

I had to Google for this one...but it's one I read three years ago, and still like it. And it's Titanic related, so hey...

Doug Urquhart first posted this over at alt.history.ocean-liners.titanic, in 1999. The following is his direct post:

"Not quite a sighting - something a bit stranger. I read the following some years ago in Practical Wireless, a British magazine for radio
enthusiasts (Spring 1962). Fortunately, I hoard old magazines.

The story concerns an Amateur Radio enthusiast in Croydon.One evening, he was sitting by his radio set, attempting to receive a particularly faint station on the other side of the world, when
he was rudely interrupted by a violent hammering on his door.

It was his next-door neighbour, complaining about interference on his television. Since there had been incidents in the past, his natural
inclination was to blame the 'ham'. The radio enthusiast was able to persuade his neighbour that, since he hadn't even been transmitting, it wasn't his fault. Just to be helpful, he offered to go next door and observe the effect.

Sure enough, the picture was being interrupted by buzzing, horizontal lines. The radio enthusiast recognised the cadences instantly - morse
code. The same message was being repeated over and over - CQD DE MGY..... CQD DE MGY...... Judging by the power, the transmitter was
very close, and unless he was mistaken, some idiot was operating aspark transmitter.

The 'ham' was annoyed. It was clear that some hoaxer was deliberatelycausing interference. He contacted the authorities (the GPO in those days) who tried to find the transmitter using their direction finder equipment.

No luck - all of their DF equipment showed more or less the same direction. Wherever the transmitter was, it wasn't in the UK.

One of the GPO engineers contacted the FCC, since the signal seemedto be coming from the USA. The FCC brought their direction findersto bear, and found that the two lines of position, from the UK and the US, crossed at a point at about the latitude of New York, and somewhat south of Cape Race, Newfoundland. This point was subsequently found to be close to (but not the same as) the reported position of Titanic, that fateful night in 1912.

The signal was broad band and very noisy, similar to the sort of transmission produced by a spark transmitter. It was picked up on both sides of the Atlantic, and lasted for about two hours, after which it faded.....

[It would be nice to tidy up the story by saying that the transmission came from the spot where Titanic's remains were ultimately found, but the article didn't give the actual coordinates]"

Cool, huh?
Kritina Johnston

Kritina Johnston

More Googling produced yet another ghostly encounter with the Titanic and its wireless...though it has more than a passing similarity to the first one I posted...wonder if there's a connection?

Anyway, this is from alt.folklore.ghost-stories, and was posted by a Phil Hayward (I took the liberty of correcting some typos).

"Here's a it first, then read the explanation.

Gorden Cosgrave was a 33-year old ham radio operator living at Woolwich, in South London. He had spent a good deal of money on his wireless equipment, which enabled him to maintain contact with a far-flung world of fellow enthusiasts.
In June and July of 1936, on six occasions, Cosgrave received messages in Morse code, which if genuine, would have had a supernatural origin. The messages he picked up appeared to be distress calls and other messages exchanged between
Titanic and Carpathia 24 years earlier.

Cosgrave received the first message on a Saturday in early June. He had been trying to pick up the signal of an operator in Nova Scotia when he overheard a morsed message purporting to be from the Carpathia:


This was followed by a fainter signal giving a ship's position, followed by an SOS call. The name of the second ship was distorted by static, and the signal strength then faded away. Cosgrave transcribed the messages and called the
local police.

The policeman's initial interest turned to sarcasm when Cosgrave mentioned Carpathia. He told Cosgrave, "You're about 20 years too late, old boy. You've been listening to the sinking of the Titanic". The officer then hung up on what
he considered to be a crank call.

Cosgrave claimed to known very little about the Titanic disaster, having been only nine years old in 1912, and consequently he tried to forget about this freak occurance. The following Wednesday, however, he picked up another mysterious message. This one was dated 11th April 1912 and was timed at 1:20am. It was an SOS, stating that 16 lifeboats had been launched and over 1,000 passengers and crew were still on board. Cosgrave visited the library and checked the facts of the Titanic disaster. The information in the messages seemed to be accurate, he thought.

After receiving another message from Carpathia, he contacted the editor of a wireless journal and told him what was happening. Despite his scepticism, the editor and a member of staff visited Cosgrave to check his story out. They sat
with him for an hour while he listened to the earphones. Cosgrave suddenly handed the phones to the editor, who put them on and listened. He transcribed the message he was hearing, which purported to be from Titanic. It said that
the last distress rockets had been fired and the steam in the boilers blown off to prevent an explosion. The journalist heard two more such messages on successive weekends.

Historical Notes:
- Carpathia was the rescue ship
- The Titanic was one of the first ships to use ...---... (SOS), as well as the old distress code CQD (Come Quick Danger!)
- Steam being blown off is about right, after the collision the boilers were still producing steam...with the Titanic stopped the steam was blown off.

Sounds convincing doesnt it....but...

- The Titanic collided on 14th April 1912, not the 11th
- The Carpathia was not 70 miles away, but 58 miles
- The Carpathia encountered little ice until she arrived at the site
- Wireless operators didn't date/time messages!...would be silly!
- Ships in that period did not use their names in wireless messages, instead each had a code...Titanic was MGY, Carpathia was MPA
- at 1:20am the Titanic hadn't launched 16 lifeboats

Cosgrave was the victim of a hoax....

Now, who would've thought that the wireless would be such an alluring device for creative types to use in supernatural tales?

George Behe

Hi, Kritina!

For what it's worth, Phil Hayward's description of the Cosgrave incident was transcribed verbatim from my book, "Titanic: Psychic Forewarnings of a Tragedy."

All my best,


Steve Smith

Not Titanic related, but one of my favourite ghoulish sea-stories nonetheless -

The SS Marlborough - presumed lost with all hands on the Australia run in the 1890's... she was found floating peacefully in a sheltered cove off South America in 1919... the skeletons of her passengers and crew, clad in rags, still in their places around the ship. There was even a helmsman still clutching the wheel with a bony hand....

Well... allegedly.
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

It's a great story of the sea, Steve! There are several variations that have been extant for years - one of which had the ship run aground. As long ago as 1927 Basil Lubbock examined the story in his classic work The Last of the Windjammers. He wrote the following:

This leads me to another skeleton story, which, it is possible, sheds a light on the fate of the missing frozen meat ship Marlborough.

The Marborough sailed from Lyttleton, New Zealand, in January, 1890, under Captain Anderson with a cargo of frozen mutton and wool, and one or two passengers including a woman. In April she was posted as missing, after having been spoken in the South Pacific. About this date a vessel reported that she saw men signalling from one of the islands near Cape Horn, but that the weather was too bad for her to attempt a rescue. Whereupon a Government cruiser was sent out to search the Tierra Del Fuegian seaboard, but without success.

Since then the mystery of the Marlborough's end has never been solved, though many a newspaper yarn has been put forward, such as the following, which pretends to quote the words of a captain of another New Zealand trader:- "We rounded a point into a deep cleft cove. (The ship was apparently coasting the Tierra del Fuegian shore somewhere enar the straits of Le Maire.) Before us a mile or more across the water stood a sailing vessel with the barest shreds of canvas fluttering in the breeze. We signalled and hove to. No answer came. We searched the stranger with our glasses. Not a soul could we see, not a movement of any sort. Masts and yards were picked out in green - the green of decay. After an interval the mate, with a member of the crew, boarded her. The sight which met their gaze was thrilling. Before the wheel lay the skeleton of a man. Treading warily on the rotten deck, which cracked and broke in places as they walked, they encountered three skeletons in the hatchway. In the mess-room were found the remains of ten bodies, and six were found, one possibly that of the captain, on the bridge. There was an uncanny stillness around and a dank smell of mould which made the flesh creep. A few remnants of books were found in the captain's cabin and a rusty cutlass. The mate examined the still faint letters on the bows and after much trouble read 'Marborough, Glasgow'.

This, so Lubbock puts it, is 'a good example of a newspaper fake'. He then goes on to quote at length a story related by Captain T. S. Burley of seattle. Burley dates his story 23 July 1890, where he claims to have been wrecked on Tierra del Fuego in the barque Cordova. The survivors endeavoured to reach Good Success Bay, and on the way passed the wreck of a barque named Godiva. Although they did not see the Marborough, a few miles southward of the wreck of the Godiva was a boat marked 'Marborough of London'. The boat was pulled up out of reach of the seas and the oars were all there.

Up above the boat in a sheltered part of the rocks we found a tent, made from the belly of a square sail, and I am inclined to believe that the survivors of the boat from the Marborough had obtained the same from the Godiva, although the camp in question was several miles to the southward of the wreck.

In the tent were seven skeletons and outside was a pile of a sort of mussel shells, which they had apparently subsisted on. I am inclined to believe that they had perished from exposure and ptomaine poisoning.

Lubbock does point out that In crticism of this story, one can only say that the coast of Tierra del Fuego inside Le Maire Straits would be a strange place for a vessel bound round the Horn from the westward to go ashore, or even for one of her boats to make a landing.

I've read more detailed debunkings of some of the published versions of the Marborough story elsewhere.

One of the better books about the supernatural at sea is 'Phantoms of the High Seas'. The author, Philip MacDougall, does make the effort to investigate through archival sources some oft-told tales like the ghost of the Asp, rather than simply regurgitating other books and adding whatever dramatic touches he feels are appropriate. He has also kept abreast of contemporary research, such as Melvin Harris's research and debunking of the Admiral Tryon apparition.

Stories of supernatural occurances connected with the crew and passengers of the Titanic turn up quite often. I found a near death apparition connected with the tragic death of a brother-in-law of one of the Titanic's officers. Even more eerie was an occurance that happened at the time of another death in the family. What makes this case so intersting is that it was offered in testimony into a coronial inquest into the incident, evidence given the day after the death occured.

Steve Smith

Inger -

I've always thought the account of the skeletons on shore might contain at least a grain of the actual truth... but you gotta admit: the other version is MUCH more fun!

But enough of that - What are the details of the Titanic-related stories you allude to in your final paragraph? Please don't leave us in suspense!
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Steve, that was a shameless bit of 'dangling' on my part - I'm saving the full details for publication. But it was one of those odd little stories one comes across in the strangest of places. It began with a mysterious knock on the door, and ended with the discovery of a body. Not a thrice-told fireside tale, seemed quite incongruous in the midst of eyewitness testimony about the tragic circumstances surrounding the incident, told so utterly matter-of-factly and, it seems, accepted without question.

One story I can relate, however, because I think it's rather nice but also rather flimsy and not too terribly convincing, is a tale told to Kerri, myself and Harold Lowe's grandson and granddaughter-in-law when we were visiting Lowe's childhood home, Penrallt. Apparently a psychic visiting the house some years ago 'saw' a group of boisterous children playing together in the house, and had a strong, pleasant vision of a woman wearing what sounded like the balloon sleeves of the end of last century. Whether this individual had been told of the large, energetic Lowe brood growing up in the house in the 1890s I don't know - it was all too vague to even begin to start questioning.

I thought one of the strongest of visual images associated with supernatural yarns connected with the Titanic is the ghost of victim Matthew Sadlier's dead sister, who was reported to have appeared walking along an avenue in the estate where he had lived in Ireland with water streaming down her hair.

Steve Smith

Inger -

>"that was a shameless bit of 'dangling' on my part"

OK... OK... I'm dangled. Just be sure to let us know when the book's out!

Ryan Patrick Thiessen

Not about Titanic but a good sea-story nonetheless. I used to be in the U.S. Navy and did a Westpac on the U.S.S. Carl Vinsion. Had a passageway on the port side O-3 level (Deck below the flight deck), don't remember the frame numbers but it was pretty far forward. Infact if you came out of the Forecastle on the port side you would run into into it about three frames down. Anyhow, this passageway has to be the absolute creepiest place I have ever been. don't know why, it just was. It was ALWAYS cold, even in the persian Gulf, and the lights NEVER worked. At night, you would be hard pressed to find ANY sailor walking through those three or four frames. Me and my buddies always went all the way to the starboard side and back out in order to avoid it at night. Rumor was that a young deck Seaman had hung himself there on the ships second or third voyage but I was never able to confirm that. Again, not Titanic but a true ghost story indeed.
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

I know where that passageway would be. The George Washington has the same arrangement up forward. No ghosts however. At least if there were any, they didn't seem inclined to let any of us know about it.