Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals

The Mystery of the Carroll A. Deering

By Bland Simpson

Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals

256 pp., 6.125 x 8.5, 38 illus., 1 map

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5617-8
    Published: April 2005

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In the misty dawn of January 31, 1921, a Coast Guardsman on watch at the Cape Hatteras Life-Saving Station sighted a mighty five-masted schooner, all sails set, wrecked on the treacherous Diamond Shoals. Rescuers rushed to the ship, but when they arrived they found the Carroll A. Deering deserted, with no trace of the captain, Willis B. Wormell, or the crew. When, several months later, a bottle was found on a nearby beach, purportedly containing a note from a crew member who ascribed the schooner's fate to its capture by pirates, a sensational panic in international shipping ensued. The captain's daughter successfully lobbied for a federal investigation, but months of inquiry failed to turn up either the missing crew or a reason for the ship's demise. To this day, the fate of the Deering has remained one of the greatest mysteries of maritime history.

Bland Simpson assembles the known facts into a compelling reconstruction of the Carroll A. Deering's final voyage and its baffling aftermath. Using contemporary sources including newspapers, FBI reports, ship's logs, and personal and official correspondence, he weaves together historical narrative with the voices of key participants in the drama. Simpson's haunting chronicle keeps the story of the Deering alive, an apt memorial to the ghost ship and its lost crew.

About the Author

Bland Simpson's books include Into the Sound Country, The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey, and The Great Dismal. A member of the Tony Award-winning Red Clay Ramblers, Simpson has collaborated on such musicals as King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running, Kudzu, and the Broadway hit Fool Moon. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For more information about Bland Simpson, visit the Author Page.


"In Bland Simpson's carefully researched nonfiction novel, the story of the Carroll A. Deering unfolds as surely and gracefully as a set of fore-and-aft sails in a fresh breeze."--Charlotte Observer

"Maintains a fine balance between fact and fiction and offers a true-life seagoing mystery."--Brunswick [Maine] Times Record

"Simpson has written the most detailed and engaging account to date."--Working Waterfront Book Review

"There have been differing reports on the mystery of the Carroll A. Deering ever since the five-masted schooner was discovered aground and abandoned on Diamond Shoals in 1921. Bland Simpson has merged those accounts with additional in-depth research to present in detail the fascinating story of the ghost ship of Diamond Shoals."--David Stick, author of Graveyard of the Atlantic: Shipwrecks of the North Carolina Coast

"What one of Simpson's characters, a newspaper editor, says is also true of him: 'Just give this boy a yarn, especially a yarn of the sea, and I'm off and running.' And a spanking good yarn it is."--Janet Lembke, author of River Time: The Frontier on the Lower Neuse