Tall ships and taller stories

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Steve Smith

Dec 14, 1998
The following report appeared in a Scottish newspaper in 1919...

"The story told by the captain is intensely dramatic. He says: "We were off the rocky coves near Punta Arenas, keeping near the land for shelter. The coves are deep and silent, the sailing is difficult and dangerous. It was a weirdly wild evening, with the red orb of the sun setting on the horizon. The stillness was uncanny. There was a shining green light reflected on the jagged rocks on our right. We rounded a point into a deep cleft rock. Before us, a mile or more across the water, stood a 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. The vessel lay as if in a cradle. It recalled the "Frozen Pirate" a novel that I read years ago. I conjured up the vessel of the novel, with her rakish masts and the outline of her six small cannon traced with snow. At last we came up. There was no sign of life on board. After an interval our first mate, with a number of the crew, boarded her. The sight that met their gaze was thrilling. Below the wheel lay the skeleton of a man. Treading warily on the rotten decks, which cracked and broke in places as they walked, they encountered three skeletons in the hatchway. In the mess-room were the remains of ten bodies, and six others were found, one alone, possibly 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 discovered in the captain's cabin, and a rusty cutlass. Nothing more weird in the history of the sea can ever have been seen. The first mate examined the still faint letters on the bow and after much trouble read "Marlborough, Glasgow. "

The Marlborough had been reported as missing 29 years earlier...
Got to admit it's a great story - and told in great style!

There's one other eye witness reported of possibly the same ship, still festooned with skeletons, aground on a deserted island.. but does anyone know any more? Is there even a grain of truth in it - or is it just a classic sailor's yarn?

Failing any info on this one - anyone got any other good "ghost ship" tales?
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