Robert Ellis Cahill,
Haunted Ships of
the North Atlantic

(Old Saltbox, 1997)

My zeal for stories of unexplained hauntings and my fascination with tales of the sea continues unabated. Consider, then, my delight upon discovering Robert Cahill's Haunted Ships of the North Atlantic, a slim volume that promised the best of both worlds.

It's true, I've been disappointed before, but Cahill delivers the goods in a book packed with narratives detailing the misfortunes of many sailing ships and the unexplained phenomena that have sometimes trailed in their wake. Famous ships such as Titanic and Mary Celeste are represented, sure, but often more fascinating are the lesser-known vessels like the ill-fated Great Eastern, the fiery Teazer and Young Teazer, Amaranth, Cyclops and Carroll A. Deering.

The book details premonitions and forerunners of disaster, ghostly appearances, vanishing passengers and murderous crews. Some stories come with explanations, or at least theories, while others are still unexplained. Either way, whatever documentation is available is presented here, be it survivors of a mishap at sea, eyewitnesses from the shore or another ship, naval records or other account from the era.

The book is thin, only 88 pages, and there are a few more typos than I prefer to see, but I found Haunted Ships to be an exciting read nonetheless. There are plenty of maritime mysteries here to sate the appetites of the most avid readers.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 10 August 2002

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