Author: Dear Old Vessels


HMS Erebus & Terror ornament stitching


​The ghost ship legend of the HMS Octavius,

the legend begins in 1762 that the Octavius sailed with a cargo to China and arrived there safely. Back to England it was unusually warm, so the Captain decided to take the route through the Northwest Passage. That was the last thing Octavius heard, she disappeared into the eternal ice. On 11 October, however, she was found by a whaler named Herald. A small boarding group was selected and so five unfortunate men had to board the ship. What they found made their blood freeze in the truest sense of the word.  They found the entire crew of 28 below deck: dead, frozen, and almost perfectly preserved. The captain’s body was supposedly still at the table in his cabin, pen in hand (exactly as in the Schooner Jenny legend) with the captain’s log in front of him. In his cabin there were also the bodies of a woman, a boy covered with a blanket, and a sailor with a tinderbox. The boarding party took only the captain’s log before leaving the vessel, because they were unwilling to search it. The last entry in the log was from 11 November 1762, which meant that the ship had been lost in the Arctic for 13 years. As the log was frozen, it slipped from the binding, leaving only the first and the last few pages in.


Is this a real story or is it just a legend ? The author David Meyer once took a closer look at this legend and found some very interesting things. There is a 1905, Gloriana legend that appeared in The Blue Adventure Book: A Collection of Stirring Scenes and Moving Accidents from The World of Adventure and reported that a John Warren’s captain of the the Try Again found a ghost ship with a frozen crew. Only other names and not a word from the Northwest Passage but the story seems to agree with the Octavius. Only who was the source ? this is not mentioned in the book and it is from 1905 the story allegedly occurred in 1775. The earliest version of this story appeared December 13, 1828 in a Philadelphia-based newspaper named The Ariel: A Literary and Critical Gazette. The article is entitled The Dangers of Sailing in High Latitudes. Also here the experiences of a Captain Warren with a ghost ship and its hypothermic crew are told.

All in all a nice little ghost story with a frozen crew on a ghost ship or should it have been true in the end…. who knows ? 😉


The Kalmar Nyckel, an authentic, seagoing replica of the Dutch-built armed merchant ship – 16 August 2019



Under Sail


The anchor of the Grand Saint-Antoine who brought the plague to Provence in 1720
© Journal La Marseillaise

The anchor was found four years after the discovery in 1978 of the wreck of the Grand Saint-Antoine at a depth of about ten metres to the northwest of the island of Jarron. It measures 3.80 m high, 2.50 m wide and weighs 960 kilos.


Ship Twelve Apostles, 1897, Ivan Aivazovski


HMS Terror in the ice under Captain George Back 1836, by Lieutenant William Smyth 1836


serotonin is stored in the sea shanty