Ghost Stories of the Sea
Richard Wilbur is author of The Rise of French New Brunswick and H.H.
Stevens, 1878–1973, and co-author of Silver Harvest: The Fundy
Weirmen’s Story. His latest book is Horse-Drawn Carriages and Sleighs:
Elegant Vehicles from New England and New Bruns
Barbara Smith is no stranger to this genre, having written Canadian
Ghost Stories, Ontario Ghost Stories, Ghost Stories of the Rocky
Mountains, and Haunted Theaters, to name a few of her related works.
Some of the subject matter will be familiar to many, since the stories
revisit some of the most referred-to nautical mysteries, including the
unsolved tales of the Mary Celeste (the Nova Scotia–built
square-rigger that was found abandoned, sailing itself alone on the
Atlantic) and other vessels that vanished without a trace somewhere in
the Bermuda Triangle.
Despite the wide selection (taken mostly from American, and to a lesser
extent from Canadian and British, records) and the author’s
arrangement of the entries into somewhat contrived sections (“Ghosts
on Board,” “Supernatural Submarine Stores,” “Haunted
Lighthouses,” “Derelicts,” “Strange and Spooky Sea Stories,”
“Mysterious Areas,” and “Phantom Ships”), there is a certain
sameness to these stories, regardless of their length. Invariably, they
tell of ghosts of deceased people and sometimes of animals. Admittedly,
that’s what readers should expect, but to get the most enjoyment,
readers should sample one or two tales now and then. The one I liked
best was the first and longest, about ghosts that people have seen
aboard the Queen Mary—after her conversion to a luxury floating hotel
at Long Beach, California.