The Welsh Ghost Ship Resolven

Update 2014 : the Resolven story has taken a strange and exciting new twist in the last week or two. I’ll be revealing more when the time is right… the rest of the story, what was previously known, is outlined below.
In August 1884, the Royal Navy vessel HMS Mallard was patrolling the fishing waters off Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, when she sighted the merchant ship Resolven, apparently adrift. She gave no answer to the Mallard’s signals, and on boarding her, the Navy sailors found that the ship was completely deserted, though there was no sign of damage or disturbance. There was a fire lit in the galley and food on the tables, but not a soul aboard. The lifeboat, too, was gone; for some unknown reason, the crew had simply abandoned their ship. She was salvaged, but the crew were never seen again.

The Resolven was a brig out of Newquay in West Wales, normally sailing between her home and other Welsh ports and Canada with cargoes of timber and cod. Her Captain was John James, Master Mariner, of Newquay.

After her discovery by HMS Mallard she was towed into the nearby port of Catalina, and eventually refitted and put out to sea again, but no trace was ever found of her crew. The mystery of this ship, which has been called the Welsh Mary Celeste, remains unexplained to this day.

I’ve lived with this story for many years as part of my family history : John James was my great-grandfather.

I’ve now decided to find out whatever I can about the Resolven, from contemporary documents, and records in Wales and Canada, in the hope that I can shed some light on what may have happened that August day nearly 130 years ago.


Will Wain



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