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The Isles Of Shoals Phantom Dory

by Thomas D’Agostino and Arlene Nicholson from the book, Pirate Ghosts and Phantom Ships.

Welcome to part 3 of our ghostly tales from the Isles of Shoals. The Isles have many tales of ghosts and ghoulish vessels that emerge from the thick of the foggy nights. This is the story of a boat and its ghostly tenant that still wanders the shores in search of interminable revenge.

In the early twentieth century, the Isles of Shoals became a regular port for many of the Guinea boats that angled the waters. Guinea boats consisted of Portuguese and Italian fishermen who sailed up from Boston to reap the bounties of the isles' plentiful waters. These vessels became a familiar sight bobbing and swaying in the ebb and flow of the tides that crashed along the rocky surfaces of the islands. They were accepted and welcomed, as the waters were rich for the taking.

One night a crew member on one of the boats became intoxicated and rowed ashore to seek revelry. The drunken man spotted the wife of an island fisherman and began to make advances toward her. He immediately accosted her but the woman would not give in. She fought off the sailor’s brutal advances until he pulled out his knife and plunged it into her, killing her on the spot. He scurried back to his boat. The crew knew something had gone wrong by the blood on his clothes and immediately shoved off to sea.The crews of the Guinea boats were a very close group. Each one protected the other at all costs.

The next morning the woman’s body was discovered and the authorities came to investigate. The fisherman returned to find his home in an uproar. There were officers and neighbors milling around everywhere. It was well documented that he and his wife did not get along very well. He was prone to a heavy hand due to a violent and quick temper. This was enough proof for the constables, who had no other substantial evidence to work with of his guilt in the evil deed. The man was immediately placed under arrest.

While preparing to transport their prisoner back to the mainland, a raging tempest rose out of the north. Travel became impossible so the group held fast in the fisherman’s cottage awaiting the storm to subside. In the full fury of the storm, the fisherman dove through the window out towards the beach. There he secured his familiar dory and made his escape into the squall. The police rushed towards the angry surf only to spy the misty figure vanishing amidst the fog and wind, into the great wide sea. He was never seen again, or so it seems.

Several months later, the same Guinea boat made port in the isles and began fishing once again. In the dead of the moonlit night, a thick fog overcame the region, blanketing it with an impenetrable shroud. Suddenly the sounds of the sea were shattered by a blood-curdling scream from below the deck of the craft. All aboard raced towards the agonizing shriek but were not prepared for what their eyes would behold. There on the floor, was their fellow crewmember lying in a pool of blood. His severed hand lay just inches from the stump of his wrist. They all knew he was the man who had enacted the ruthless crime on the island months before. During the melee, someone distinctly heard a set of oars lock into the tholepins of a dory, followed by the swishing of water as if someone was rowing into the thick of the night. Another crewmember swore that he saw a figure disappearing into the fog in a small boat. It appears the fisherman had returned to enact his revenge.

From that moment on, every Guinea boat that harbored at the isles met the same fate. The same unearthly fog would usher an ethereal tragedy as a poor innocent fisherman would be found hacked by a mysterious being. Each time, the sound of oars could be heard echoing through the ominous fog. Sometimes the dark shade of a man in a dory would be observed vanishing into the murkiness.

Guinea boats became scarce at the islands as the phantom dory prayed upon them in regular succession. Soon the fishing vessels were like ghosts, themselves. They became a faded memory among the Shoalers. No Guinea boat crew dared transgress the curse laid upon them by their fellow crewmember on the baleful night. As for the phantom dory, it is still roaming close to the isles watching every ship that enters its domain.


Tom D'Agostino has been a paranormal investigator for more than 30 years. He and his wife Arlene Nicholson live in Connecticut.