Lore Report: “Sea of Change” (Episode 131)

Ships vanish. It’s one of the risks that humans accepted when they began to venture out into the dark, mysterious waters that separated them from the undiscovered. Because if we’re honest, there are simply too many opportunities for tragedy on the open waters. And sadly, some ships don’t make it home. But if you read enough of the stories about lost ocean liners and missing schooners, you’ll start to notice an exception to the rule. Yes, sometimes ships vanish from sight, but every now and then, the unthinkable happens: they return.

In its latest episode, the Lore podcast heads out to sea. Host/narrator Aaron Mahnke tackles the subject of “ghost ships,” derelict vessels discovered adrift and devoid of their human crew. The stories of ships both legendary (e.g. the Flying Dutchman) and actual (the Mary Celeste) are related, and lesser-known instances (the Resolven, the Baychimo) are discussed as well. Besides furnishing plentiful examples, Mahnke takes a step back to consider the why of such tales–the reason they arise and seize hold of the imagination. With his typical knack for supplying the informative tidbit, Mahnke also enlightens listeners with the origins of the name/business “Lloyd’s of London.”

My one disappointment with Episode 131 is that it didn’t delve deeper into the treatment of ghost ships in literature and pop culture. Mahnke makes passing mention of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and the Doctor Who TV series, but fails to invoke classic cases such as Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Dan Simmons’s The Terror. Nevertheless, the macabre armada of maritime folklore that Mahnke gathers here is sure to float the boats of podcast’s devotees.


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