This article is from 2021 and may be outdated. We're working on restoring a newer version.
Some of the most enduring ghost stories describe haunted ships and galleons.
– For over a century, we’ve heard tales of the ghost crew on the Flying Dutchman.
– Ghost ships regularly visit Salem (MA, USA) harbors.
– According to a recent PBS series, a ghost ship appears before the death of each Duke of Argyll.
Stories like those are difficult to investigate. Those ships appear without warning, and at different locations.
Nevertheless, sightings are so well documented, it’s a mistake to think all of them are folklore.
Evidence suggests a connection between ghostly anomalies and water. Famed researcher Colin Wilson noted the poltergeist-water connection at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose (CA, USA).
Researchers reported far more ghosts in New Orleans’ after it flooded during Hurricane Katrina. Of course, graves and crypts were disturbed or destroyed by high water. I think it was more than that.
However, I’m not sure the ocean is more haunted than land masses.
Maybe it is. For example, I’ve heard reports of normally stalwart divers feeling uncomfortable around the sites of sunken ships.
For now, it’s an interesting question, but one I can’t answer.
I think lakes may be as haunted as parts of the ocean. Visit almost any isolated but popular lake in the off-season, and see for yourself. If the lake has an island and you have access to it, rent a canoe or motorboat and investigate it.
Similarly, coastal islands seem to have more ghosts (and ghost stories) per square mile than many nearby towns on the mainland.
The problem is the inconsistency of reports. Until we know when seafaring ghosts and haunted ships will appear — and how soon they’ll vanish, once reported — we can’t confirm these great legends.