San Diego has a rich and colorful history, yet, like any other major city, it retains elements of a seedy past. As a port town, with sailors unleashed landward like Genghis Khan on the city’s streets, myths and tall tales have developed over the years. The San Diego Maritime Museum’s own iron-hulled ship, The Star of India has it’s own dark tales following its construction in 1863. This is why the museum will be holding a Haunted Tales from our Seafaring Past event on October 26 and 27.
The Star of India, as is the case of many seafaring vessels, is reportedly “haunted.” Sailing is a dangerous job: navigating high seas, unruly characters, deathly machinery, and of course, the ever-present threat of pirates. Several tragic deaths were reported to have occurred on the ship while under way, and although most were predominantly occupational hazards, the crew’s presence can still be felt throughout the iron-hulled behemoth.
Visitors have said to experience a chill throughout the boat, even in warmer months. The oven apparently smells of fresh baked bread, although it has not seen use in many years, and pots and pans supposedly shake about. If someone were sick and near death, they were basically left to ride out their sickness in the galleys in which they slept. In the crew’s quarters an ominous chill has also been reported.
Not all aspects of the Star of India are dark and dreary. The ship is beautifully designed, with an overarching skylight above the middle deck. This allowed for much needed sunshine for the sailors, as well as a vent for sailing in humid areas of the world. Truly a unique ship, the Star of India is a treasure of the San Diego Maritime Museum.
This Friday and Saturday evening, Haunted Tales from Our Seafaring Past storytelling will delve more into these terrifying tales. One storytelling session will begin at 6pm, with the final series of stories at 9pm. General admission tickets are $8, but there is a family pack for $41.
The San Diego Maritime Museum is located at 1492 North Harbor Drive 619.234.9153.