The Wreck of The Lady Lovibund

by MJ Wayland

The wreck of the Lady Luvibond (sometimes spelt Lovibund) is another persistent Goodwin Sand’s ghost story. During the evening of February 13th, 1748, the schooner Lady Lovibund, loaded with a general cargo for Oporto, and under the command of Captain Simon Reed, sailed down the Thames to safely clear the North Foreland. Captain Reed was particularly happy on this trip, for he had his new wife aboard along with her mother and their wedding guests. On deck, however, while the guests were drinking toasts to the newly married couple in the captain’s cabin below, first mate, John Rivers, who had been a rival for the affections of Simon Reed’s wife, nursed his hatred and jealousy.

A fair wind blew that night and the Lady Luvibond sped across the water. But, as he stood in the wind, something must have snapped in John River’s mind. He walked casually aft and drew a heavily wooden belaying-pin from a rack. Deliberately he strolled towards the helmsmen and, pretending to peer over the man’s shoulder at the binnacle, River’s shattered the poor sailor’s skull with the belaying pin. Rolling the lifeless body into the scuppers, Rivers took the helm and swung the Lady Lovibond hard over.

In the captain’s cabin the bridal party still made merry, too pre-occupied to notice the ship’s change of course, until, with a grinding crash, the schooner hit the Goodwin Sands. The masts snapped and toppled into the sea, and the timbers rent like matchwood with ear-splitting groans. Down in the cabin the captain and his guests were trapped and helpless. Above the din of the dying ship rose the hideous cacophony of River’s revengeful laughter.

By first light on February 14th, 1748, the Lady Luvibond had been sucked into the Goodwin Sands forever. At the subsequent court of enquiry, John River’s mother gave evidence that she had heard her son say he would get even with Simon Reed if it cost him his life. The case of the Lady Luvibond was logged as misadventure.

Fifty years later to the day, Captain James Westlake, aboard the coasting vessel Eldridge, was skirting the edge of Goodwin Sands, when he caught sight of a three-masted schooner bearing down on him with sails set. Shouting to the helmsman to slam the Eldridge’s wheel hard over, Westlake watched the other vessel sheer past. As it did so, Westlake heard the sound of female voices and merrymaking coming from the ships lower decks.

Reporting the incident to the ship’s owners, Westlake discovered that the crew of a fishing vessel had seen the same schooner go ashore on the Goodwins, to break up before their eyes. Making to rescue any survivors, the crew of the fishing vessel found nothing but empty sand and water. The Lady Luvibond had made her first phantom appearance.

On February 13 1848, Deal Hovellers watched the spectral Lady Luvibond go aground once again. They too set out to rescue but they found nothing. Again on February 13 1898, shore watchers saw the Lady Luvibond re-enact her pile up on the Goodwin Sands. They launched off but found no trace of the wreck.

Other ships at sea have seen the lady Luvibond go aground, and, during early January 1948, the 2,327 ton Italian vessel Silvia Onorato was wrecked on the Goodwins, some said that this time the Lady Luvibond had demanded a live sacrifice for her anniversary.

Consistently, the locals point out, every 50 years, on the exact anniversary of her doom, the phantom Lady Luvibond has re-enacted the consequences of a madman’s deed of violence. No doubt on February 13th 1998 on the 250th anniversary of her wrecking, researchers with the sophisticated equipment for ghost-hunting which might have been developed by then, will set out for a sight of this ghost ship, this time to put her appearance on visual record.

Many strange sounds are still borne on the wind from the yeasty smother of the Southward Goodwin Sands. ‘Gull cries’ say the sceptical. But those who live thereabouts know that no gull hatched on the seven seas’s ever made such a noise. Only the moans of the walking dead devoured by the Goodwins, the old folk aver, could ever utter such heart-rending and forlorn cries.

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