Nautical myths have many tales of ships that sail the oceans manned by ghostly sailors and fated to never harbor. One of the most famous stories is the mysterious ghost ship, Octavius.
The story begins back in 1761 when Octavius anchored in the port of London to take a shipload for China. This grand sailing ship departed with a full crew, the captain and his family.
They arrived in China securely and offloaded their shipload. Then, they went back into the sea, loaded with cargo destined for Britain.
However, the weather was very warm, so the captain decided to sail home through the Northwest Passage. By that moment, no trip had been made through that passage.
This was the last time anyone heard of the ship nor its crew. Octavius was reported lost.
In October 1775, the whaling ship Herald was operating in the freezing waters off Greenland, when it detected a sailing ship. When the ship came nearer, they noticed it was damaged. The sails were torn and shredded.
Herald’s captain made an order for the boarding crew to investigate the ship. They determined it was the ghost ship, Octavius.
The crew arrived on the ship’s deck and noticed it was deserted. However, when they broke its hatch and went down the ladder, they encountered a terrifying scene. They saw the 28-man crew frozen to death in their sections.
When they went to the captain’s cabin, they found him seated at his desk with a pen in his hand. The ship’s logbook was sitting open on his desk. The inkwell and other items remained in their place on the desk.
In the cabin, they also noticed a woman, covered in blankets, also frozen to death and holding a young boy.
The terrifying scenery scared the crew, so they took the logbook and quickly left Octavius. However, they were running so fast they lost the logbook’s middle pages that were also solid frozen.
Arriving on Herald, they only brought back the first and last pages. Apparently, they were sufficient for Herald’s captain to partly understand the story of the ghost ship.
The captain of the Octavius made an attempt to travel the Northwest Passage, but the ship became captive in the ice of the Arctic, and the whole crew had died.
The ship’s last position was 75N 160W, which located the Octavius 250 miles north of Barrow, Alaska.
For Octavius to have been finally found off Greenland, it must have eventually burst out of the ice. Thus, it arrived there and met Herald.
Herald’s crew ended up terrified from Octavius, believing it was a cursed ship. Until today, the ship has never been seen again.
Author David Meyer made a few attempts on his own to piece together the story of the ghost ship Octavius. His blog explains the idea that Octavius might be the same ship as the Gloriana, boarded in 1775, by captain John Warrens.
He wrote that he found a frozen crew, dead for 13 years and the date of the discovery was eerily similar, November 11, 1762.
Did the Octavius eventually sink or does she still cruise the seas with a crew of skeletons at the wheel?