6/9/07

The Marlborough - Misterios


















En Magallanes hubo un hecho real acontecido en octubre de 1913 y que afectó al velero Malbourough descubierto por el bergantín inglés Johnston, en plena navegación en las aguas del estrecho y a la cuadra de Punta Arenas.


El caso fue relatado así por un cronista:


"El capitán del Johnston ordenó a seis marineros que lo abordaran para averiguar lo que ocurría bordo y con una gran sorpresa encontraron un esqueleto junto a la rueda del timón. Tres esqueletos más había en el pañol, diez en el dormitorio de los tripulantes y seis en el puente.


En la proa, bastante deteriorada, se podía leer Malbourough.


Un temporal que se levantó horas después arrojó el buque fantasma sobre la costa, perdiéndose definitivamente.


De las averiguaciones hechas más tarde se desprende que el Malbourough había zarpado de Littleton, Nueva Zelandia, nada menos que veintitrés años antes, en enero de 1890, con rumbo a Glasgow, bajo el mando del capitán Hird.


Tenía veintitrés tripulantes y llevaba a bordo ocho hombres como pasajeros.


En sus bodegas conducía un cargamento de lanas". Cuando estuve en Hamberton, puerto en el canal Beagle de la tierra del Fuego argentina, el administrador de esa estancia contó que durante un crepúsculo reciente había entrada en la rada una goleta blanca con todo su velamen izado, la que abordaron en condiciones aptas de navegación pero sin tripulantes.


Como ya se estaba oscureciendo bajaron a tierra y la dejaron tal como la habían encontrado, sin ocurrírseles anclarla o amarrarla al muelle y arriar sus velas; lo que pensaron harían al día siguiente.


Temprano de mañana salieron a realizar las maniobras para adueñarse de la embarcación o, sin ocurrírseles anclarla o amarrarla al muelle y arriar sus velas; lo que pensaron harían al día siguiente.


Temprano de mañana salieron a realizar las maniobras para adueñarse de la embarcación o, si se daba el caso, cobrar alguna indemnización a su dueño si este aparecía; pero durante la noche debió levantarse un viento fuerte que llevó a la nave a abandonar el puerto sin siquiera rozar sus costas.


A pesar de las constantes averiguaciones hechas al respecto para ubicar o saber donde se hallaba la goleta, jamás pudieron descifrar el caso ni oir la propia voz de su propietario reclamándola, constituyéndose así en otro enigma de los mares:


Un nuevo buque fantasma que navegaba por los canales fueguinos y alrededor de las peñas del Hornos a toda vela y sin tripulantes.


Pero tales buques pueden no ser fantasmas. Tal vez existió algún hecho real oculto que los sume en el misterio y que, por supuesto, se desconoce.


Sin embargo, el fenómeno tiene una explicación o un motivo específico que lo ocasiona, como motines, crímenes, codicias, abandonos por alarmas falsas, envenenamientos masivos por ingestión de alimentos o líquidos contaminados, escorbutos u otras razones que lo hace inexplicable y que lo agrava aún más con el desaparecimiento total de los testigos incluidos, en algunos casos, los propietarios de las embarcaciones siniestradas.


From "Shadows of Sails." By John Anderson, a relative of Capt. Herd.

The actual fate of this beautiful ship will never be known. After making fourteen rapid and successful passages to new Zealand she sailed from Lyttleton for London on January 11,1890, with a cargo comprised of frozen meat and wool. She had a crew of twenty-nine men and one passenger. The Marlborough was a handsome ship of 1124 tons, and was built by Robert Duncan, of Glasgow, and launched in June, 1876, for her owner, Mr j Leslie, who subsequently sold her to the Shaw Savill Co. Captain Anderson commanded the ship from 1876 until 1883, making some remarkable runs to Lyttleton and Dunedin. He also made several rapid passages home, on one occasion, in 1880, being credited with covering the distance from Lyttleton to the Lizard in 71 days.
In 1884 Captain W Herd succeeded Captain Anderson, and he was on the ship when she went missing on her homeward journey in 1890. As already stated, the ship sailed from Lyttleton on January 11. Two days later she was spoken to by a passing vessel and she was never heard of afterwards. One of the cadets on board was young Crombie, a stepson of Captain William Ashby, so well known in Auckland. When no tidings came after long waiting an inquiry was made as to her condition when sailing, and it was proved that the cargo was properly stowed and the ship was well founded and manned in thorough good trim for the voyage. After many months had passed the ship was posted at Lloyds as "missing" and the general opinion was that the ship had been sunk by icebergs, so frequently met with near Cape Horn.
The Marlborough Mystery
After the ship had been missing for over twenty years a remarkable story was published in a Glasgow paper in 1919. According to this report, the Marlborough had been discovered near cape Horn with the skeletons of her crew on board. This is the story as it appeared:-
"It is stated that the crew of a passing ship in 1891 saw men, whom they believed to be British seamen, signalling off one of the islands near Cape Horn, but it was not possible to get near them owing to bad weather.
"Further details of the discovery of the missing ship come via London. It appears that some considerable time back the sad truth was learned by a British vessel bound home from Lyttleton after rounding cape Horn. The story told by the captain is intensely dramatic. He says: ‘We were off the rocky coves near Punta Arenas, keeping near the land for shelter. The coves are deep and silent, the sailing is difficult and dangerous. It was a weirdly wild evening, with the red orb of the sun setting on the horizon. The stillness was uncanny. There was a shining green light reflected on the jagged rocks on our right. We rounded a point into a deep cleft rock. Before us, a mile or more across the water, stood a vessel, with the barest shreds of canvas fluttering in the breeze.
We signalled and hove to. No answer came. We searched the "stranger" with our glasses. Not a soul could we see; not a movement of any sort. Masts and yards were picked out in green - the green of decay. The vessel lay as if in a cradle. It recalled the "Frozen Pirate" a novel that I read years ago. I conjured up the vessel of the novel, with her rakish masts and the outline of her six small cannon traced with snow. At last we came up. There was no sign of life on board. After an interval our first mate, with a number of the crew, boarded her. The sight that met their gaze was thrilling. Below the wheel lay the skeleton of a man. Treading warily on the rotten decks, which cracked and broke in places as they walked, they encountered three skeletons in the hatchway. In the mess-room were the remains of ten bodies, and six others were found, one alone, possibly the captain, on the bridge. There was an uncanny stillness around, and a dank smell of mould, which made the flesh creep. A few remnants of books were discovered in the captain’s cabin, and a rusty cutlass. Nothing more weird in the history of the sea can ever have been seen. The first mate examined the still faint letters on the bow and after much trouble read ‘Marlborough, Glasgow.’ "
Another Story.
A most singular story was told in 1913 by a Seattle pilot, Captain Burley, who, in course of conversation with the skipper of one of the Shaw Savill liners, gave a description of a wreck that bore the name ‘Marlborough’. This pilot said that in his youth he was wrecked off Staten island, and he and the only other survivor set off to look for a whaling station, and while searching they came across, in a cove, a large ship with painted ports. The pilot said he distinctly saw the name ‘Marlborough’ on the wreck. Lying near were the skeletons of twenty men, and heaps of shellfish told how they had tried in vain to fight off the starvation that eventually overtook them. This story only came to light many years after the pilot saw the wreck. Why it was not reported at the time seems strange, nut it is none the less likely to be true.
The ship Dunedin, another fine vessel, sailed from Oamaru a few weeks after the Marlborough, and was also posted as missing.


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