Weird California
Weird California
Weird California - By Joe Parzanese

Ghost Ship Squando

Map Embarcadero, San Francisco, California 94105

Back in 1890, the Norwegian ship, Squando, docked itself off the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Sadly for the first mate (some accounts give him the name Lars Gunderson) of the ship, he was involved in an affair with the Captain's wife. While docked, the captain, named Nels Erikson, discovered the tryst, and convinced his wife (who somehow refound her devotion to her marriage, threat of murder from your husband can tend to do that) to assist him in the murder of the first mate. She plied him with liquor and after getting the first mate drunk, held his arms, as her husband, the captain chopped the first mate's head off with an axe. Other versions of the story have the Captain summoning the first mate to his cabin and before his horrified wife, cutting the first mate's head off with a cutlass. Other versions also have the wife not involved in an affair at all with the first mate, and instead have the first mate stalking the captain's wife.

The stories have the murderous couple tossing the headless corpse into the San Francisco Bay, and keeping the head in a bucket in their room, apparently under their bed.

It wasn't long after the headless corpse of the first mate was discovered in the San Francisco Bay that the captain and his wife subsequently skipped town (some accounts have the San Francisco police finding the missing head which the couple had stashed in their bedroom, and the couple is instead hung). The owners of the ship were forced to hire a new captain who shortly there after was killed during a mutiny of the crew. The next two captains met with similar fates, both being discovered mysteriously murdered in their own cabins.

Of course, if you want to compound the issue, and believe in the stories, the ship was supposedly cursed long before it suffered from an endless stream of dead captains or first mates. Supposedly several men were killed during the construction of the ship, and one of their widows cursed the ship and everyone who was to sail on it, and then she went and committed suicide to make the curse stick.

By 1893, the entire crew, fed up with the cursed nature of the ship, deserted it in Bathurst, New Brunswick. The ship's reputation as a haunted and cursed vessel made it impossible for the owners to hire on a new crew. The Norwegian consul finally stepped in and hired two night watchmen to guard the ship until plans were finalized on what to ultimately do with the cursed ship. The night watchmen quit on the first night, fleeing the ship in terror after running into a headless apparition that was roaming the hallway in front of the captain's cabin.

The story was the same for the next six night watchmen all hired and quitting over the next few weeks. Unable to hire any workers for the ship, the owners were forced to demolish it. Although, of course, another legend states the Squando tried to make one last transatlantic voyage in 1901, but disappeared completely on its trip never arriving at its final destination.

However, the cursed ship Squando wouldn't die. Now, occasionally on fog shrouded nights, if you look carefully, you can still once in awhile make out the ghostly outline of the ghost ship Squando sailing off the Embarcadero along the San Francisco coastline.

The Squando is not the only ghost ship around San Francisco. The Tennessee has been spotted numerous times sailing around the Bay, more specifically under the Golden Gate Bridge.


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Last Edited: 2009-04-03


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