Halloween’s ghosts and goblins will be out a little bit early this year. October’s calendar includes a Friday the 13th—the perfect time to cruise to some of the boating world’s spookiest haunts and tell a few of its ghostly legends.
Sleepy Hollow, New York
What better place to cruise in and tie up on Friday the 13th than Sleepy Hollow, New York? Right next to Tarrytown in the shadow of the Hudson River’s Tappan Zee Bridge, the village is home to the fictional Headless Horseman from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Author Washington Irving’s Sunnyside home is in Tarrytown is open for tours; sometimes, the docents lead walks into the woods, where they tell ghost stories after sundown for a creep-o-riffic effect.
In his 1953 play “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller immortalized the infamous witch trials that took place here during the 1690s. So many women were hunted and killed as suspected witches that today, some people believe their souls haunt the entire waterfront city. The Wicked Good Books shop has reported titles flying off its shelves, and more than a few patrons at Murphy’s bar and restaurant say they’ve seen a Victorian-era woman in a powder blue dress hanging out with a boy and a picnic basket. The Jonathan Corwin House—open for seasonal tours—was once home to the judge who sentenced “witches” to their deaths. If that place isn’t haunted, it should be…
St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida
They say that this lighthouse, built in 1874, is the most haunted place in all of St. Augustine, which was established in the 1500s. Ghost tours are even available, along with ghost-themed private parties. Who’s doing the haunting? Nobody knows, but a lot of deaths have occurred here, both from onshore and just offshore. Sometimes, people say they can hear children laughing where no kids can be seen.
John Wayne's Wild Goose
Hornblower Cruises in Newport Beach, California, offers dinner cruises aboard legendary actor John Wayne’s former yacht, the 136-foot Wild Goose—and some people say the ghost of “The Duke” is still aboard. Hornblower staff say they’ve heard their names being called, while other people have reported rattling glasses filling the yacht with noise and apparitions becoming visible in mirrors. One former captain says he was thrown out of what used to be Wayne’s bed—scaring the skipper so much that he never returned to the yacht alone.
Al Capone's Duchess III
The mystique surrounding the 76-foot Duchess III is so thick with rumor and innuendo that nobody is even sure whether the gangster Al Capone actually owned her during the 1920s. But assuming that he did, and that either he or some of his victims are haunting the vessel, would help to explain why the people who owned the yacht after Capone nicknamed a space “the ghost room.” They heard so many voices and saw so many apparitions on board that they couldn’t come up with any other explanation. The yacht survived until 2006, when she was destroyed on the West Coast, so unfortunately, you can’t tour her today—but you sure can wonder just how many of the deceased took their turns aboard trying to get revenge against “Scarface.”
Searching for more creepy tales? Check out these Boating Superstitions that just might give you chills.