Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ghost Ship: Lady Lovibond

Whether the Lady Lovibond has been seen as a ghost ship or not is left to history to know. But regardless, this story is still compelling today. 

The Lady Lovibond was a three-masted schooner that was wrecked, on the Goodwin Sands, off the southeast coast of England near Kent on February 13, 1748. This date in 1748 was on a Friday—so it was Friday the 13th. Since it is said she appears every fifty years, as a ghost ship.

Captain Simon Reed (some accounts name him Peel) had just been wed, his ship the Lady Lovibond was on the River Thames on the 13th because Reed was taking a cruise to celebrate his marriage. The ship was heading  toward the English Channel on its way to Portugal. 

The crew was nervous because the captain’s new bride Annetta, her mother, and their wedding party were aboard. A long-standing superstition among seamen of the time was that to bring women aboard was bad luck.

The legend states the first mate John Rivers, a former suitor of Annetta, paced the deck above as the captain, his young bride and invited guests celebrated below. 

Rivers engulfed in a fit of jealous rage grabbed a club and crushed the skull of the seaman at the wheel. He then steered the Lady Lovibond onto the treacherous Goodwin Sands—which is quicksand—wrecking the ship and killing everyone aboard.

At the inquiry into the disaster Rivers’ mother testified that her son had vowed his revenge. 

At the time of the wreck it had been a clear, stormless night. So the inquiry finding no other reason then sabotage, recorded the wreck of the Lady Lovibond as a “misadventure.”

Fifty years later, the first phantom sighting of the Lady Lovibond occurred on February 13, 1798. There were two sightings on this the anniversary of the original disaster. 

Captain James Westlake of the Edenbridge reported his ship almost collided with the Lady Lovibond. He stated by turning the wheel hard, at the last moment, he was able to avoid her. He reported hearing strange sounds of merriment coming from below deck as his ship passed.

The second ship that spotted her that night was a fishing vessel. The captain of this boat reported that they had seen the schooner go aground and break up. He reported when they went to rescue survivors the sands were empty and silent.

In 1848, fifty years later, the Lady Lovibond made her next appearance. Seaman ashore at Deal stated she appeared so real they sent out lifeboats to rescue any possible survivors. As these lifeboats drew near she appeared to just fade away.

In 1898 Captain Bull Prestwick spotted her. He stated she looked real despite the fact that she gave off an eerie green glow. 

In 1948 there were possible sightings but they were not recorded.

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