MV Seaflake was a charter boat operating out of Shortbeach on the US gulf coast. It was generally rented for fishing expeditions, but had also been used for diving, hauling light cargo, and other odd jobs. On one memorable occasion in 1972, the boat had served as a scab, shrimping with makeshift equipment as part of the management response to the Gulf Coast Shrimp Strike of 1971-72.

On September 6, 1977, the MV Seaflake put out on what was ostensibly a fishing charter. Other boats around the marina recalled the skipper, Joseph Andrews, arguing about money with an unidentified man; they assumed it to have been the aggressive haggling that Andrews was infamous for. In addition to Andrews and his passenger, three other hands, all regular part-timers for Andrews, were aboard.

According to the harbormaster, the MV Seaflake was supposed to return from its charter in 6 hours. When the ship failed to appear after 12, a search and rescue operation was initiated, one that was rapidly complicated by the formation and arrival of Hurricane Cecelia, a Category Three storm, in the gulf.

A small skiff, manned by volunteers and coordinating with the Coast Guard station at the Shortbeach Light, located the MV Seaflake seventy-five miles off course. The vessel had a slight list, and was completely abandoned, her engines disabled for want of fuel.

Photographs and affidavits confirm this part of the story. However, wilder tales soon emerged of a lower deck slick with blood, mysterious packages in the hold, and a “black motorboat” shadowing the rescuers. In any event, no survivors or logs were recovered.

With Hurricane Cecelia bearing down on the rescuers, they ran a tow line to the MV Seaflake. The outer bands of the hurricane snapped the line, however, and the ship was last seen drifting into the eye of the storm.

It has since been regarded as one of the preeminent ghost ships of the area and era, thanks in no small part to the wild tales spread by its would-be rescuers that could not be disproven without the craft itself.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!