Sunken ‘ghost ship’ could be haunting Gulf fish
The week started promisingly with the discovery of a mysterious “ghost ship” adrift in the Gulf of Thailand with no crew, cargo or documents on board – not even defiant rodents. First spotted by Chevron oil rig workers, the dilapidated Fin Shui Yuan 2 appeared to be a freighter of Chinese origin. Unfortunately, the ship sank in rough seas off the coast of Nakhon Sri Thammarat while being towed ashore by the Thai Navy.
For a fleeting moment, it looked like Thailand might have its own version of the Marie Celeste which was found abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean off the Azores in 1872. Alas, judging from the photographs of the sunken freighter, it appears to be a rusting bucket that may have been deliberately abandoned.
The sea floor is probably the best place for this wreck as long as it doesn’t scare off the resident fish. Red snapper and groupers are known to be quite superstitious and wouldn’t appreciate the sea ghouls with their octopus-like appendages that featured in Pirates of the Caribbean, arriving on their patch. It might however attract some tourists.
Granted, Thailand’s “ghost ship” doesn’t quite capture the imagination of Marie Celeste, an American brigantine that was discovered almost 150 years ago with the lifeboat missing and no sign of the 11 souls on board – Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife, two-year-old daughter and eight crew .
the Marie Celeste the mystery is particularly fascinating because it remains exactly that…a mystery. There has been no definitive explanation of what really happened on his ill-fated trip from New York to Genoa.
Carrying a cargo of industrial alcohol, he was found adrift by the ship Dei Gratia. Her sails and rigging were damaged, but she was seaworthy. The cargo had been untouched and supplies of food and water were plentiful. The boarding party found the logbook of the Marie Celeste and his last entry, nine days ago, showed no signs of trouble. So what was wrong?
Sea monsters and waterspouts
Unsurprisingly, there were many complex conspiracy theories as to why a still seaworthy ship was abandoned. There were suggestions of foul play, including hacking, mutiny, insurance fraud, and even a giant octopus, none of which were particularly compelling.
Among the natural phenomena given as an explanation, the ship was struck by a huge waterspout, while some even suggested a collision with a stray iceberg. An explosion caused by fumes from the alcohol cargo was another theory.
Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that he was hit by rough seas and fearing the ship would sink and be in sight of land, the captain decided to bring the lifeboat back to land, but he never got there.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle managed to cover his tracks somewhat in 1884 when he anonymously wrote a fictional short story based on the Marie Celeste in which all aboard were murdered by a former slave seeking revenge. Due to his captivating style, his version of events was misinterpreted by many as what really happened. Also, Conan Doyle spelling the name Marie Celeste rather than Mary, caused this incorrect spelling in various reference books. Conan Doyle was of course later to achieve considerable fame through a certain character called Sherlock Holmes.
The ‘ghost ship’ conjures up memories of a ‘ghost train’ which caused a brief stir in Thailand in 1992. A revamped old steam engine left Makkasan Railway Works in Bangkok for a new home at the Railway Museum Ratchaburi Railway, about 125 km to the south. from Bangkok. It seemed like a simple enough trip, but the engine never arrived at its intended destination. He simply disappeared. A search party was sent to hunt down the rogue engine which was eventually located a few weeks later in a Chon Buri siding, on an entirely different route to Ratchaburi.
A subsequent investigation caused an alarming outbreak of amnesia in everyone involved, including the engine driver who could not remember taking a wrong turn. It all turned out to be just a “misunderstanding”, always a popular explanation when there’s a bullshit going on in Thailand. The public was informed that the engine was used for “educational purposes”.
An urgent press conference was called to set the record straight “once and for all” but sadly the head of the Covid Inquiry Commission found himself “on leave”.
The media eventually learned that the mysterious engine trip was “a secret”. Case closed.
Following last week’s article about the soundtrack of Rural Isan at Night, a reader pointed out to me that I had missed the most important element… the really loud music.
He says that on New Year’s Eve someone in a nearby village “turned up the music so loud it rattled my windows” and that intrusive din with that familiar bass sound continued until 4 hours of the morning. There was a brief respite, but by 5 a.m. the music had returned.
Disturbed by the racketeering, the reader decided to investigate and discovered that the new noise came from other villagers who were getting revenge. Upset at being kept awake, they walked past the rogue villager’s house with their PA systems blaring.
If they were to be deprived of sleep, they ensured that the original aggressor would suffer the same fate.
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Bangkok Post Columnist
Longtime popular columnist for the Bangkok Post. In 1994, he won the Ayumongkol literary prize. For many years he was a sports editor at the Bangkok Post.
Email: [email protected]