Captain Drisko’s Ghost Story - How The Good Ship Harry Booth Was Saved From Wreck
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
CAPT. DRISKO’S GHOST STORY .- HOW THE GOOD SHIP HARRY BOOTH WAS SAVED FROM WRECK.
From the New York Times, New York ; Issue Date: Sunday, May 21, 1882 Page 2
At a meeting of religious reformers held in the house of Kr. William IL Banks, East Boston, a few evenings since. Capt C. P. Drisko, who is well known as an able and experienced shipmaster, spoke in substance as follows:
"In the Winter of 1865 I commanded the ship Harry Booth, bound from New York for Dry Tortugas, with a canto of Government stores and 900 mechanics and laborers to be employed at the fortifications then in the course of construction.
When the ship reached the vicinity of Abaco the wind blew a fierce norther, with heavy rain; the sun had gone down, and the weather soon became quite dark. To haul off was Impossible, the wind blew too fresh to carry sail, and the only rational course left was to incur the risk of crossing the Bahama Banks.
The ship drew 14 feet and I could not expect that there was there was more than 15 feet of water on some parts of the banks. A foot is very little to spare under a ship's keel ; but I resolved to take a chance, and accordingly squared away, that is put the ship before the wind, and took my departure from Berrf [?] Island.
Having seen everything in order on deck I left the chief mate, Mr. Peterson, a careful and trustworthy officer in charge, and went below for a little rest. At 10 o’clock I heard a voice, clear and distinct say:
'Go on deck and anchor’.
‘Who are you ?’ I demanded, and sprang on deck, for I was not a man to take orders from any one. I found the ship going along her true course, and everything as I could wish. I questioned Mr. Peterson if he had seen any person enter the cabin, but neither he nor the man at the wheel had-either seen or heard any one.
Thinking it may have been hallucination I went below again; about 11:50 a man with a grey great coat and slouched hat entered the cabin, and. looking me straight in the face, commanded me to go on deck and anchor. He left the cabin deliberately. I heard his heavy tread as he passed before me.
Once more I sprang on deck and found the ship all right. Sure of my course I was not disposed even with this second warning to obey any man or anything else, no matter what appearance it might put in. Again I went below, but not to sleep, for I had everything on ready for a spring on deck. –
At 12:50 A. M. the same man entered the cabin, and more imperiously than before said: ' Go on deck and anchor :' I recognized at a glance that the speaker was my old friend, Captain John Burton with whom I had sailed when a boy and who treated me with great kindness. I sprang on deck, rounded the ship to and anchored her with 60 fathoms of chain. All hands were called and the sails furled. Shortly afterward I felt the ship touch, but neither the mate nor anyone else noticed it. A few minutes later, however, all hands felt it.
I threw the lead first from one side then from the other, and found 6 fathoms (30 feet) of water. I was perplexed, and asked myself what it could mean, when the same voice rang out. 'Throw the lead over the stern’!
I did so, and to my dismay found only 13 feet; (The ship drew 14 feet).
I immediately set the mizzen topsail and spanker and backed her clear of the reef, against which she sheered every time she brought a strain upon her chain. The danger was past; the ship rode clear of the reef, and sustained but little damage where she struck.
A ship which spoke me in the early part of the evening and whose Captain was not familiar with the Bahamas, said that he would follow me and for this purpose I hung a light over my stern. Watching my movements closely he rounded to almost as soon as I did and thereby saved his vessel. No doubt the norther had shallowed the water on the banks, and if we had continued in our course we both might have been wrecked.
Will those who assume that the spirits of our departed friends do not take an interest in us please explain? What I have stated is true. It was the spirit of a departed man, Captain John Burton well known as one of the best shipmasters in the country. He commanded among others the ships Talleyrand and Superior and was esteemed by all who ever knew him.
My voyage in the ‘Harry Booth' was entirely successful.