Ghost Ship

Ghost ship vanished like smoke at Porthcurno beach

June 26, 2021 People's Tonight 457 views

‘Many of the old people have seen this ship, and no one ever saw it, upon whom some bad luck was not sure to fall’

Ghost ShipAs dusk fell and the mist rose over the sea, the menacing dark shape of a sailing ship could be seen approaching Porthcurno beach.

The mysterious ghost ship was spotted numerous times over the centuries.

But instead of dropping anchor or washing up on the beach, the vessel would continue to sail, gliding over the dry land until reaching Porthcurno, where finally it would vanish like smoke.

The ship was described as black and square rigged, with either one or four masts, according to the witnesses who were unfortunate enough to lay eyes on it.

The first sightings date back to the 17th century, even keeping people away from the bay at nightfall.

It was since recorded in writing in Robert Hunt’s Popular Romances of the West of England, Or, The Drolls, Traditions and Superstitions of Old Cornwall (1865).

“This valley is in every respect a melancholy spot, and during a period of storms, or at night, it is exactly the place which might well be haunted by demon revellers,” the book relates.

“Few persons cared to cross that valley after nightfall; and it is not more than thirty years since I had a narrative from an inhabitant of Penberth, that he himself had seen the spectre ship sailing over the land.

BeachPorthcurno beach (Image: Greg Martin)

“This strange apparition is said to have been observed frequently, coming in from sea about nightfall, when the mists were rising from the marshy ground in the Bottoms.

“Onward came the ill-omened craft. It passed steadily through the breakers on the shore, glided up over the sands, and steadily pursued its course over the dry land, as if it had been water.”

According to witnesses, the ship was sometimes followed by as smaller spectral boat.

“No crew was ever seen,” Robert Hunt continued. “It is supposed they were below, and that the hatches were battened down.

“On it went to Bodelan, where St Leven formerly dwelt. It would then steer its course to Chywiden, and there vanish like smoke.

“Many of the old people have seen this ship, and no one ever saw it, upon whom some bad luck was not sure to fall.”

The spooky sightings were believed at the time to be linked to a strange hermit who lived in the area.

“He was accompanied by a servant of foreign and forbidding aspect, who continued to be his only attendant; and this servant was never known to speak to any one save his master,” Richard Hunt’s book reports

“It is said by some they were pirates; others make them more familiar, by calling them privateers; while some insist upon it they were American buccaneers. Whatever they may have been, there was but little seen of them by any of their neighbours.

“They kept a boat at Porthcurno Cove, and at daylight they would start for sea, never return until night, and not unfrequently remaining out the whole of the night, especially if the weather was tempestuous.”

According to the legend, after the man died and was buried his servant disappeared, and so did the mysterious ghost ship that had haunted Porthcurno for many years.

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