Sailing Ships – A True Ghost Story

When I came on deck at midnight at the change of watch one saturday night, the second mate reported to me that farmer – as we called the country bumpkin – was missing. The man had gone for a drink of water and had not returned. It was blowing hard at the time, the ship being hard to with a taupaulin in the mizzen rigging. She had been swept with several heavy seas, and it was only too apparent that the man had been washed overboard, as, despite the closest search, he could not be found anywhere.

Before dismissing the watch, however, I made a further search with the second mate, without result. Next day the occurence was duly noted in the official log, and at evening service in the cabin. Captain Trew made feeling reference to the loss of the farmer, and commented upon the loss of life at sea.

The same weather continued for the whole of the next week blowing hard, with snow and hail, and frozen sails rattling and cracking like pistol shots.

I had the 4-8 watch on the Thusday morning, and at about 5-30pm, the carpenter, who had turned out and gone to the galley for his usual hook of coffee, came flying aft to me, screaming that he had seen poor farmers ghost. I said “bosh!” for in the half light of these regions after long straining of the eyes aid the snow showers and tossing seas it is easy to imagine all manner of shapes and things taking form; but as the man seemed terrified, I went forward and made him stand near the galley in the position where he was when he said he saw the ghost, and point at the place where the apparition appeared. He pointed to the manhole leading to the chain locker, and said that the wooden cover rose up, and that the farmers head and shoulders popped up out of the whole and disappeared.

I examined the cover of the manhole and found it firmly in position, and told the carpenter he must have been dreaming, but he swore he was wide awake. To satisfy him, I removed the cover, and sure enough found the farmer inside.

Howe he ever squeezed himself in remains to me a mystery, yet, for it was only after a considerable struggle that we managed to pull him out. He had flown there in panic, from the storm, paralysed with fear, and remained in the cold locker, though free from wind, in a semi-comatose state, nearly frozen to death, after having pulled the cover back over him.

His first words on being pulled out on deck were: “By Gow, but I’m hungry!”

The above story appeared in a series of articles by Forrest Franbk in 1920 in the Scarborough Daily Post – This story came from Captain Kimmings