Friday, September 26, 2008
A major air and sea search was launched after a mystery 'Marie Celeste' yacht with no-one on board sailed into a harbour. The 20-foot boat had its sails set and was being steered on its course by auto-pilot before it finally ran aground at West Mersea at the mouth of the River Blackwater in Essex. Lifeboat crews who went on board found evidence that the boat had been crewed but there was no sign of life, sparking fears that whoever was on the yacht had fallen over the side. An RAF search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham was deployed and lifeboats were launched from West Mersea, Clacton and Walton to scour the Blackwater estuary.
Marie CelesteCoastguard shore patrols were also called in but when nothing was found the search was called off at nightfall. Inquiries are continuing to trace the registered owner of the yacht. The Mary Celeste, also known as the Marie Celeste, was a ship discovered in the Atlantic Ocean unmanned and under sail heading towards the Strait of Gibraltar in 1872. The fate of the crew was never known and theories have since sprung up from pirates attacking the ship to mutany among the ship's crew. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a story in 1884 that drew heavily on the fate of Mary Celeste, but renamed his ghost ship Marie Celeste.