The Tale Of The Real Life Maine Ghost Ship Carroll A. Deering
Maine's maritime and shipbuilding heritage goes back hundreds of years. Back to before the first Europeans even set foot on the shores of what would eventually become the State of Maine.
Over the centuries, hundreds of boats and ships were built in Maine. Back in the day, there were dozens of small shipyards up and down the coast of Maine and along the state's larger rivers.
For example, one stretch of the banks of the Kennebec River in Bath was once home to a series of medium sized shipyards. The shipyards, which operated until the early 20th century, made mostly massive cargo schooners. Even after most ships used steam engines to move across the ocean, these ships were popular for transporting cargo.
One of these ships, built in Bath, became a real life ghost ship.
The Carroll A. Deering was a five-masted schooner that was laid down at the G G Deering Company Yards in 1918. It was launched and completed in 1919.
The vessel's final voyage started by dropped cargo off in Rio. On the return trip, the ship stopped to take on supplies in Barbados. According to one account of the story, in January of 1921, the vessel left Barbados and sailed toward Norfolk. About the 20th of January, the ship passed by the Cape Hatteras lookout. As they sailed past, a crewmember using a megaphone reported that they had lost their anchors. The crewmember explained that their radio was out and asked that the fact be reported to the vessel's owners, the G G Deering Company.
On January 30th, the SS Lake Elan passed by a vessel that matched the description of the Carroll A. Deering. The captain of the Lake Elan did note that the vessel was steering a peculiar course, but that the vessel appeared in good shape. It is assumed that this was the Carroll A. Deering, but they were never able to read the name on the side of the vessel.
The next day, the vessel was spotted stuck on a sandbar at Diamond Sholes. After several attempts, members of the Coast Guard were able to board the Carroll A. Deering. On board, they found the vessel was abandoned, but that there was food left out in the galley. The log book and navigation equipment had been taken. And, there were no lifeboats on the ship.
One of the more curious things that the boarding party noticed was that, during the course of the ship's final trip, the handwriting on the charts changed. The notations for the first part of the trip appeared to be in the handwriting of the ship's captain, Captain Wormell. The last few marks were in a different handwriting.
Because of that fact, some people believed there had been a mutiny on board. There had been some arguments between the captain and the vessel's first officer. However, no definitive proof of a mutiny could be found.
In March, due to the fact the wreck was considered a navigation hazard, it was blown up.
In early April of 2021, a fisherman in North Carolina found a bottle floating in the water. Inside the bottle was a note that read:
DEERING CAPTURED BY OIL BURNING BOAT SOMETHING LIKE CHASER. TAKING OFF EVERYTHING HANDCUFFING CREW. CREW HIDING ALL OVER SHIP NO CHANCE TO MAKE ESCAPE. FINDER PLEASE NOTIFY HEADQUARTERS DEERING.
Because of the note, people believed that either pirates or communists had taken over the ship. However, in September, it was determined that the person who "found" the bottle had actually forged the note. Apparently, he had hoped the find would help him get a job at a nearby lighthouse.
So, what really happened to the Carroll A. Deering? The mystery remains unsolved to this day.
This video of the story has a bunch of great photos on the story. Of course, like all of these stories, the facts differ slightly depending on who is retelling the story.
What do you think happened? What other ghost stories or Maine mysteries do we need to know about? Message us through our app.
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