Star of India

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Some entities who died on board have never taken shore leave.

These spirits who were not ready to die just yet and are restless souls.

Suicide doesn’t bring peace.

A negative entity lurks in the bottom level of the Star of India.




The Star of India (originally known as The Euterpe), the oldest working sailing ship, is described as an 1863 era iron, ship-rigged, sailing ship, with a long life history in the merchant trade business, hauling cargo, transporting emigrants, and as a salmon fishing boat and cannery.

From 1864 to 1923, The Euterpe/the Star of India transported lumber, Australian coal, Hawaiian sugar, natural Indian jute fiber, cotton, grain, Asian Spices, Alaskan Salmon, and emigrants.

It has a plain bluff bow and a full stern with windows. The original ship, The Euterpe, was a full-rigged ship, which meant it was a square rigged sailing ship with three or more masts.

As of Tuesday, June 15, 2021, the San Diego Maritime Museum opened once again the indoor exhibits, located below in the ship deck galleries and the USS Dolphin submarine. The maritime vessels of interest on display, besides Star of India are the 1898 steam ferryboat Berkeley, Navy Frigate replica H.M.S. Surprise, Spanish galleon replica San Salvador, Official Tall ship of the state, Californian, 1904 Steam yacht Medea, and USS Dolphin submarine. The Russian Foxtrot class attack submarine B-39 remains closed because the outside hull took a beating last winter and awaits to be repaired.

Raymond Ashley, Ph.D., K.C.I., the President/CEO of the Maritime Museum of San Diego describes these exhibits with great enthusiasm. “Nested below deck are hidden historical treasure stops taking visitors back in time. The Museum’s below deck gallery space cannot be seen by visitors when looking at the fleet from the embarcadero. These are truly unseen treasures worth a visit.”

“Permanent exhibits found as visitors move from ship to ship include San Diego’s Naval History, Harvesting the Ocean, Age of Steam, Age of Sail, Charting the Sea, Wind and Water Photography, Man-of-War, and the Wish You Were Here postcard and photography display.”

Tom and I visited the San Diego Maritime Museum, starting with the Star of India recently in the summer of 2021. She is a well-preserved sailing ship; quite a beauty! Stepping onboard this fine vessel was like a step back in time! Each area of the Star of India tells a story of each era that the Star of India was a working vessel. While the steep steps were built long ago for younger people, the museum has provided sturdy handrails for those of us who are stair-challenged.

The top inside level of this sailing ship housed the captain and his top crew managers, the captain’s office, their eating area, and a quick walk to the bridge and the outside deck. the whole space is upscale, with wood paneling, and other decor that I’m sure the captains and officers appreciated. The first deck also was where first class passengers stayed.

They were not the only ones who enjoyed this space. The Star of India was featured as a British battle ship in Peter Weir’s film, Master Commander, starring Russel Crow. There are pictures taken from the filming that are on displayed around the first levels of the ship. The producers of the film Master Commander, thought it was perfect for the interior shots for their film, as well as the outside shots.

While the captain, the ship doctor, and his top crew managers had very small cabins, the cabins were elegant with lovely wood paneling, upscale wooden beds, and desks big enough for the necessities of life, as well as offering a little privacy. Rooms aboard big battleships and USS aircraft carrier fleet today for the captain and officers also are small and practical but there is no elegance or wood paneling!

The crew had sleeping quarters between the top level and the bottom area of the hull. In this in-between world, we found interesting information about life aboard a ship, personal stories of sailors, and other accounts about the work done on board. Also, there is a section about the dangers of working on such a merchant ship.

When the Star of India became a transport for emigrants going to New Zealand, Australia, California and Chile, large bunkbeds were put on the same floor where the crew slept. This in-between floor had to be remodeled to provide room for these bunkbeds, for individuals and families. Replicas of the bunkbeds and a large wooden picnic bench type table were on display. Personal stories of various families, through diaries and letters, make interesting reading, giving an insight into what it was like.

A Surgeon Superintendent, hired by the owners of the Star of India, had almost as much authority as the ship captain to travel with the emigrants, hoping to decrease the deaths of emigrants. He had a cabin on the same floor as the captain and the officers. The Surgeon Superintendent who was on board during the 1879 voyage was Dr. W R. Davies.

His duties involved treating of the illnesses of everyone on board, delivering babies, and keeping an eye on the sanitary conditions, and diet. He investigated injuries and kept a full medical log. For every emigrant who made it to their destination healthy, the Surgeon Superintendent got a bonus; a perk that I’m sure insured the best of care for travelers.

Other maritime vessels of interest on display with exhibits below deck are the 1898 steam ferryboat Berkeley, Navy Frigate replica H.M.S. Surprise, Spanish galleon replica San Salvador, official tall ship of the state, Californian, 1904 Steam yacht Medea, and USS Dolphin submarine. The Russian Foxtrot class attack submarine B-39 remains closed because the outside hull took a beating last winter and awaits to be repaired.

Raymond Ashley, Ph.D., K.C.I., President/CEO of the Maritime Museum of San Diego describes these exhibits that are found below the decks of these fine vessels. “Nested below deck are hidden historical treasure stops taking visitors back in time. The Maritime Museum’s below deck gallery space cannot be seen by visitors when looking at the fleet from the embarcadero. These are truly unseen treasures worth a visit.”

“Permanent exhibits found as visitors move from ship to ship include San Diego’s Naval History, Harvesting the Ocean, Age of Steam, Age of Sail, Charting the Sea, Wind and Water Photography, Man-of-War, and Wish You Were Here postcard and photography display.”

We enjoyed visiting the Star of India and the other vessels. There is plenty to see in this maritime museum and it is a delightful way to spend time. The San Diego Maritime Museum survived the Corvid pandemic beastie thanks to its many supporters: generous donors, members, community of supporters, dedicated staff, and volunteers.



The original ship, The Euterpe, named for a Greek goddess, was built in the shipyard at Ramsey in the Isle of Man, England in 1863. It was one of the first ships made of iron, as most ships of the day were made of wood. The company who built her immediately put her to work as a cargo ship in the Indian jute trade. The Euterpe had a rough first voyage, suffering both a ship fender bender collision with another ship and an attempted mutiny!

The second voyage was a hair-raiser as well. The Euterpe was caught up in a nasty cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, but she managed to limp into port, after having to cut away her topmasts! The stress caught up with The Euterpe’s first captain. He pulled the ship through, but wound up dying on board soon afterward.

After four successful, uneventful trips to India as a cargo ship, The Euterpe was sold in 1871 to the Shaw Savill Line of London. For the next twenty-five years, the ship brought emigrants, a tough, hardy lot, to New Zealand, Australia, California and Chile, making twenty-one trips, through all kinds of weather. The first class immigrants slept in the old officer cabins, like the First Mate Cabin.

In 1894, The Euterpe was chartered by explorer Archibald Campion for his polar expedition, because of the her iron hull, and because she had both crew quarters and cargo holds. Interestingly, Archibald brought along his own invention, an electric motor with a variety of interesting attachments, which allowed the crew to power the ship through the ice and also provided light and heat.

The Euterpe was modernized in 1901 by her new owners, and given a barque sailing system. This system resulted in superior all-around performance with far smaller and less skilled crews. The new mast and sail arrangement featured three masts, fore and aft sails on the aftermost mast, and square sails on all other masts.

In 1898, The Euterpe was sold to an American company, The Alaska Packers and began sailing from Oakland, Calif. to the Bering Sea in the Spring, with fishermen, cannery workers, box shook and tin plate on board. When they returned in the following Fall, they brought back canned salmon.

In 1906, The Alaska Packers renamed The Euterpe, to The Star of India. By 1923, sailing ships were replaced with more reliable steam ships, so The Star of India was taken out of service and “laid up.” Her future looked grim until a group of San Diegans, led by reporter Jerry MacMullen, raised $9,000 dollars to buy The Star of India and tow her to San Diego in 1926. A grand restoration was planned for the ship, but then the depression came, followed by WW2.

So, for thirty years, The Star of India sat there, slowly deteriorating into a tattered remnant of its former self. Luckily, her fate was changed yet again, this time by an experienced, highly thought of windjammer skipper, Captain Alan Villers, who while on a speaking tour came to San Diego, in 1957.

Incensed by the bedraggled state of The Star of India, Captain Alan let all of San Diego know how upset he was that the people had neglected such a great ship for so long, making a lot of people very ashamed of themselves. A fund was established to collect money for its restoration. Skilled workmen on the waterfront volunteered and began to repair the aging hulk, making other much needed repairs.

Not only was The Star of India fully restored to its former glory, it was made seaworthy once again. In 1976, The Star Of India was once again sailing around for an enthusiastic audience! She goes sailing about once a year and has a trained crew of volunteers.


Accidents aboard ships have long taken lives, through all the eras.

USS Lexington, TX (A Petty officer backed into a propeller).

USS Hornet, CA (Sailors working on the plane deck were beheaded by loose landing cables).

USS IOWA, CA (In 1987, a violent explosion in Turret 2 was the start of paranormal activity).

Star of India, CA (Working on a merchant sailing ship unfortunately wasn’t without risks, serious illness or accidents, which does make sense after thinking about it).

(Sailors can lose their footing and fall. Accidents of all kinds can happen to people while at sea. A moment of not thinking can mean the difference of life or death. Unfortunately, people did die while working on board The Star of India).

People who suffer painful, unexpected deaths sometimes stick around where they died, not willing to give up what they wanted in life. Sometimes, they try to find another goal while being a spirit.

Moravian College, PA (The spirit of a young college-aged man who was killed in a war, has been attending classes he needs to earn credits to finish his degree).

Waverly Hills Sanatorium, KY (Patients had high hopes of being cured of TB. When they died, they were very disappointed and their spirits still stay there hoping to be cured).

The Scarlett O’Hara Pub, FL (Mr. Colee was looking forward to living his life with a new bride, but was murdered by his spiteful ex-wife who had left him and married another man).

Star of India, CA (Emigrants and sailors died from disease and accidents. Emigrants were looking forward to a new life while sailers who were earning and saving money for their goals in life).

(There were two reported incidents that happened on board. Two men who had goals for their lives died painfully and unexpectedly; stopping what they wanted for their lives).

(One of them was John Campbell. In 1884, this teen-aged boy, seeking adventure, stowed away on The Euterpe. He was eventually discovered and put to work to earn his keep. While tending to the masts, about 100 feet above the deck, his foot slipped and he fell to the deck below, breaking both legs. He died three days later in great pain).

(The other reported accident victim was a Chinese worker who was caught in the anchor chain and was crushed to death because no one heard his screams).


Spirits can be possessive of their favorite place in this world. When something is taken or changed by the living, spirits can complain and let the living know their displeasure in no uncertain terms.

Booth House, University of Vermont at Burlington (The spirit of John Booth is fit-to-be-tied with the renovations done to his forever home, and lets the living know about it in loud noises, and spectral lectures).

Bodie Ghost Town, CA (Tourists who illegally take artifacts found in the ghost town are spied by the spirits who guard the town. Tourists will soon mail back ill-gotten items because of all the bad luck they suffered from the theft).

Bullock Hotel, SD (The spirit of Seth Bullock reacted strongly to the idea of bringing one armed bandit gaming machines into his hotel. He appeared in the room of the gaming machine salesman and tried to throttle him. If Seth had a body, he would’ve thrown the gentleman out of the hotel).

Star of India, CA (When a new water system was installed, a round piece of the hull had to be cut out. The manager took this piece of wood back to his office, much to the annoyance of a group of spirits; one of whom let him know how he felt).


Captains have a hard time sometimes giving up their command of a ship, and may visit or reside there as spirits.

Queen Mary, CA (Senior Second Officer William Stark, who accidentally drank from a whisky bottle full of a poisonous liquid, died on the bridge).

USS Constellation, MD (The spirit of a captain still enjoys his favorite place of work).

Star of India, CA (The Star Of India’s first Captain, who died from stress, may also visit or reside here, to be sure that the living take care of his ship, and perhaps look for peace in reliving the mishaps that caused the stress that killed him. He must be upset that he had such a rough time being captain, and that his body paid the price).

Suicide is meant to be a way to escape torment but it seldom works out this way. Spirits still find themselves in pain and often stay where they did the rash act.

Whaley House, CA (Violet Whalely shot herself in the shed trying to escape her grief, but still grieves today on the second floor of the Whaley House).

Saint Francis Inn, FL (A young officer hung himself over a love that was forbidden. He finds ways to amuse himself and feel better, as well as being reunited with his beloved who also is still there).

Hotel Adolphus, TX (A bereft bride hung herself on the staircase after it became apparent that her beloved had gotten cold feet and never showed up to be married).

Star of India, CA (First class passenger, English Army Captain McBarnett, was in the First Mate’s Cabin on his way from New Zealand to Great Britain. He had been acting strangely for several days, deeply depressed. When he tried to cut his own throat, the Ship Surgeon got there just in time and stitched him up. A few days later, Captain McBarnett pulled out the stitches and bled to death).


People who do wicked things while alive, often find themselves stuck in the very place that they did their evil deeds.

Shanghai Tunnels, OR (The spirit of crips are stuck here for their dastardly kidnapping of women and men, mistreating them and selling the survivors to Brothels or ships in need of crews).

Old Faithful Inn, WY (The husband who beheaded his wife here, is stuck at Old Faithful Inn).

Mission San Miguel, CA (The evil robbers who cruelly murdered an entire family, their servants and guests, are stuck here, doomed to keep looking for the gold they was never found).

Star of India, CA (The man who served on board as the cook during the emigrant years would force emigrant women and girls and rape them in his cabin).



The Spirit of John Campbell

The oldest known entity is believed to be a young man by the name of John Campbell, the stow-a-way who fell from the mast and died three days later.

Sometimes when the living stand near the mast where young John fell off, they feel a cold hand touch them, as if to warn them not to climb the mast, or perhaps just to let them know of his presence.

He likes to play tag by making an “S” on the back of the living person. Staff members have had this experience.

His full apparition has been seen by staff walking around the boat, going about his chores.

One staff member saw a see-through apparition of John, who appeared in front of him on deck. The spirit mouthed, “Hello.”

Death by Anchor Chain

In the area around the chain locker, the spirit of the crushed Chinese crewman creates a persistent cold spot which is often noticed by the living.

The spirit of this crewman is still upset and restless about being not noticed and makes sure the living know that he is still there, perhaps wanting an apology for his needless death that stopped his future plans.

He may be the spirit who pushes the living when they come down the stairs to the lowest level.

The Spirit of Army Captain McBarnett

This spirit was still very upset, gives off uncomfortable vibes, and is one of the spirits that has claimed the space of the First Mate’s Cabin.

People who try to sleep in this cabin, were awakened by a semi see-through male spirit, dressed in full British Army uniform, standing by the bedside, glowering at the bed usurpers, wondering why they are sleeping in his bed.

One ghost hunter from a paranormal group went to sleep in the bed in the First Mate Cabin. He was awakened by two hands throttling him.

The Spirit of an Immigrant Little Girl

She is looking for members of her family.

She likes to play on the in between level and the officer’s deck.

She liked to visit the spirit of Army Captain McBarnett, perhaps seeing him as a daddy type.

Her voice has been recorded on an EVP recorder by paranormal investigators.

Mishaps, Disease, and Neglect

Beside horrible accidents, some crew and emigrants wasted away from fatal illnesses, spending their last hours alive in the cramped crew quarters or the emigrant bunk area, despite the best efforts of the Ship Surgeon to save them.

A sense of fear and anxiety as well as cold spots and a chilly room temperature are reported by the living and psychic-sensitive people, when they visit the crew’s quarters and immigrant bunk area.

Spirits Still Waiting

On the officer’s deck quarters, an apparition appeared to a staff member, wearing a top hat and dress attire was seen walking down the hallway and entering the First Mate’s Cabin; obviously a first class passenger who never made it to his destination.

Though there is no hard evidence or personal experiences reported, it seems that at least one former Captain would want to spend his after-life here.

For instance, the spirit of the first captain who died from stress on board may visit or reside, probably upset that he had such a rough time being captain, and that his body paid the price.

Dark Presence

A dark spirit seemed to stay here as well. He called himself the Devil.

Evidence of him has been picked up by staff and paranormal investigators on the lowest level.

The spirit of the cook who raped many an emigrant girl and woman in his quarters may be stuck here because of the things he did here.

The aura in his old room in the lowest floor is thick with negative energy, and the living have a hard time staying there for too long.

Haunted Item on Board

The Director of Marine Operations, Jim Davis, kept the piece of original round wood that was cut out of the hull when the new water system was installed and put it in his office on the bottom deck.

Four or five spirits have been seen, visiting his office to visit this piece of wood that belonged to the original ship. All of the ship belonged to them, even this piece.

One spirit who was offended that Jim had claimed it as a souvenir, pushed Jim into his office one day, as Jim was entering his office.

Paranormal Findings

The manifestations listed above are common experiences have reported by the living many times. Other experiences were tailored by the spirits for the individual.

Many paranormal groups have caught hard evidence that specifically back up the personal experiences reported. Here are three results of investigations.

October 28th, 2001 – Dr. Joe Nickell of CSICOP — A well known Paranormal Investigator, Dr. Nickell took a tour of Star of India and visited known areas of manifestations on the ship, and found that entities were indeed haunting the ship.

South Coast Paranormal investigators caught on film a shadow of a man coming out of the First Mate’s Cabin.

March 3rd, 2016, Season 15, Episode 6 – The crew of Ghost Adventures seen on Travel Channel and Discovery Plus, caught some hard evidence, and reported having personal experiences on the Star of India, with all the known spirits listed above.



Yes indeed.

Most of the Spirits are still restless over their painful, unexpected ends, wanting to continue somehow in their old life if even just through their memories, and to work out their personal issues by staying on board of the Star of India.

The spirit of Army Captain McBarnett is probably not there anymore as Zac and the members of the Ghost Adventures crew were able to communicate with him. The spirit of Army Captain McBarnett told them that he was a slave here in his Hell because he killed himself.

At his funeral at sea so many years ago, a Prayer of Attrition was not read. He wanted them to read one that was on board so he could receive the grace of God. The Ghost Adventures crew member who read one, had chills all over his body. Zac and the others filmed a spirit rising to hopefully move onto the other side.



1492 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 234-9153

The Star of India sailing ship is docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.


  • Season 15: Episode 6, year 2016, Ghost Adventures, produced by Zac Zabin, Travel Channel.

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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