Thursday, December 24, 2015

Long Island Sound’s Fiery Ship

A New York legend states that on stormy nights a fiery ship is seen sailing up and down Long Island Sound.

At one time Long Island Sound was a dangerous place for merchant ships to sail. Buccaneers attacked these ships, killed everyone on board, and then stole their cargos. These pirates rarely had to pay for their ruthless actions.

A merchant ship filled with crates of expensive furs, one clear, bright morning, sailed out of Pelham Bay.

It was a warm day, but this ship’s captain could not enjoy it for he had an uneasy feeling. He stood on deck, keeping a sharp eye for any unsavory activity.

He had cause to worry for the authorities, Governor Peter Stuyvesant and his 40 men, could not protect his ship for there were hundreds of inlets and coves where a pirate ship could hide unnoticed.

The captain warned his crew to keep alert and watched as a beautiful white horse neighed and stamped upon the deck. This horse was a part of his cargo, he was charged with delivering it to a harbor further down the Sound.

The captain was briefly distracted by the calls and laughter of several passengers who were sitting on bales of straw playing cards. A chill shiver ran down his spine—a sense of foreboding gripped him.

It was then he spotted a ship sailing quickly toward them. His first mate called out a warning. The captain ordered the passengers below deck as his crew armed themselves.

The captain saw armed men standing on the deck of the other ship leering at them. As they drew near the pirate captain shouted, “Surrender the ship.”

The merchant captain had his first mate fire a warning shot across the bow of the pirate ship. Its crew laughed with contempt, and one buccaneer jeered, “Is that the best you can do?”

This one-eyed man then threw a hook across the water, and it landed on the rail of the merchant ship. The merchant captain ordered his men fire. A smoke filled battle ensued as the men only stopped to reload.

More grappling hooks caught the rail of the merchant ship, and the two vessels came together. The pirate crew leaped aboard the merchant ship, and the men now struggled in hand-to-hand combat.

Boarding ship
The merchant captain found himself in a duel with the leader of the pirates, the two men slipped as they fought in the spilled blood from the men that battled around them.

A buccaneer grabbed the merchant captain from behind and held him tightly as his captain stabbed him through the heart with a cutlass.

The captain was the last member of the merchant ship to die. The pirates then went down in the hold and slaughtered the passengers. They stole their jewelry and valuables.

They passed the crated furs to their ship and they even tried to take the white stallion but he reared back and bucked violently, so they tied him to the mast instead.

They set fire to the ship and sailed away without looking back.

The horse screamed and tugged—his neighs were almost human in their agony-- as flames engulfed the abandoned ship.

As the pirate ship sailed out of view, something strange occurred on the merchant ship—even though the flames were fierce, the vessel remained intact. The longer the fire raged, the less burned it became.

The torn sails mended themselves, and her bloodstained decks were washed clean. One by one, the captain, his crew, and the passengers revived. They stood silently among the flames and then began going about their usual activities.

The passengers sat on the flaming straw bales and merrily gambled, but no one spoke. The only sound that could be heard was the dreadful neighing of the white horse.

Lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled—the waves tossed the ship about as it began to move forward. It followed the pirate ship’s course.

At first, the pirates fighting the storm did not notice the burning ship sailing after them through the rain. But when the lookout gave a shout filled with terror and almost fell from his perch the other pirates saw the fiery ship moving erratically through the stormy waters toward them.

The captain ordered his terrified buccaneers to flee. They tried to outrun the burning ship, but it drew closer with every minute.

They listened in horror at the sounds of the neighing horse. No other noises were heard. Several Buccaneers dropped to their knees imploring God to save them, but the burning ship drew nearer.

The pirate ship finally entered a small hidden cove, and the fiery merchant ship passed by and disappeared into the storm. The pirates abandoned their ship to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

They never returned to the Sound.

On stormy nights witnesses state they have seen this burning merchant ship sailing up and down the sound. It appears the captain and crew are still looking for the pirates that murdered them.

When this ship is seen the captain and crew are observed attending their tasks while the passengers' gamble. The only sound heard is the stallion’s neighing as it paws the deck and tries to free itself from the mast.

Excerpts from Spooky New York by S. E. Schlosser

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