The Mystery Explored
The Ellen Austin was a 210-feet American schooner, a large multi-masted ship weighing over 1,800 tons. The ship was manufactured way back in 1854 in Maine. She used to ply between London (Liverpool) and New York over the fabled Bermuda Triangle zone in the Atlantic ocean.
In 1881 during one of her London - New York trips, she met with another ship on the way on the Atlantic when it was near the Sargasso Sea
. This unknown ship was still moving although a little aimlessly and erratically. Strangely, this ship had no one onboard but it was still seaworthy.
In order to salvage this unnamed ship, the captain of the Ellen Austin sent a Prize Crew (i.e. a salvage crew) on board this unknown ship. When the crew boarded the ship, they in fact confirmed that there was not a single soul on board. However, there was no sign of any violence that might have taken place. As the story has been known, everything was in order including personal belongings, food rations etc., except the captain's logbook and nameplate of the ship which were the only things missing. The ship was also carrying a cargo of mahogany which too was intact.
The captain of Ellen Austin ordered the salvage crew to guide the ship so that they could all sail together to New York. After two days, the two ships got separated by a sea storm. And when the storm subsided, the unnamed ship was nowhere to be seen. Several days later, Ellen Austin could find the unknown ship and it again appeared to be sailing erratically. And strangely like last time, again the entire crew was missing.
This is the basic story of Ellen Austin and the unknown ship. In 1944, a retired British navy officer, Commander Rupert Gould (who was also a diligent researcher) wrote about Ellen Austin in his book The Stargazing Talks. There he narrated a sequence of incidents similar to the above and reconfirmed that the unknown ship was actually found again by Ellen Austin, but again like the previous instance, there was no one on board. And the ship was sailing erratically. The crew had also vanished.
We can say from reasonable research made by experts including Commander Gould that up to this point the story is probably correct. However, there have been various other versions that came up narrating a second part of the story which are unverified and probably fiction.
One such version said, the captain of Ellen Austin again tried to send another group of salvage crew to the unknown ship. But the crew being so scared by now, wouldn't go and Ellen Austin finally left behind the unknown vessel and moved on.
A second version claimed that the captain of Ellen Austin actually convinced and sent a salvage crew to the ship. In a few days time, the two ships got separated again due to a squall, and eventually the unknown ship disappeared with all its crew and was never traced again.
There is no evidence to the second part of the story (i.e. the unknown ship completely disappearing). Some authors and believers in Paranormal activities initially related the case to UFOs and imagined that it could be a case of abduction by the aliens.
The fact is, the mystery is not yet solved to date. Unfortunately, Rupert Gould did not cite a source to his research so that further investigation could be carried out along that line.
Larry Kusche in his famous book of 1975, 'The Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Solved', mentioned that Ellen Austin was bound for its next destination at St. John's in Newfoundland province in Canada before reaching New York. He wrote...
"I was not able to find the original report of the incident despite lengthy searches through The New York Times index, the index of The Times (London), and Hocking. Lloyd's had no information. The Newfoundland public library in St. John's checked its files and the local paper, The Evening Telegram, for 1881, but could find nothing".
Larry Kusche goes on to say in his book...
"The Ellen Austin's discovery will remain a mystery at least until someone locates the information that Gould used for his account. It may remain a mystery even after the source is discovered".
Note that Ellen Austin started its journey on December 5, 1880 from London and reached New York on February 11, 1881. It was an unusually long journey and indicates that a lot of time was spent in searching for the unnamed ship. While there is no adequate information yet to pin point the cause of disappearance, it was found from the records of Lloyds of London that there was an 1854 built ship named 'Meta' that was renamed to 'Ellen Austin' in 1880. And there was no casualty recorded for this vessel or any other vessel during this period to suggest that there was any large loss of life.
Raj is an avid traveler, a travel journalist and a blogger. As an author of this website, he shares deep insights on Bermuda and related areas of interest. Since years, he has been helping countless viewers by posting quality articles, answering questions and sharing experiences on this website. Launched in 2008, this website is Bermuda's one of the leading sources of information since many years.
NOTE: I manually evaluate all posts and include only the ones that are original (not copy pasted from other sources) and having some serious matter.
Markus Neacey (April 2013)
Morley Roberts (1857-1942) wrote a story called "Bull's Yarn" which relates his being told a yarn by an old seaman from the Ellen Austen but placing the event in 1889. The Story can be found in his short story volume Followers of the Sea (London: Eveleigh Nash, 1924). At the end of the story the author wrote to Lloyd's but they could not trace the ship having confined their research to the years 1887-1891. The ghost ship he calls the Duke of Portland, but the story is very similar to the report from 1944.