As a history writer, one brushes shoulders not only with the living, but also the dead. In researching this article I followed the journey of the Mirabita for the last months of her existence with an increasing sense of anguish, knowing what was going to befall her.
For the most part it was a life of loading and unloading cargo, waiting impatiently for tides and winds, following familiar sea routes, relaxing and enjoying a brief time in the ports across Europe before the the next voyage began, but at Hull, two of the crew found themselves in trouble,
Brothers Salvatore and Miletea, sons of Captain Mirabita found themselves detained on a charge of smuggling. The ship had just been cleared to leave the port for Sunderland but Mr Davis the customs officer, acting on information received, went aboard and searched her. At first he found nothing but then a package containing fine silk and lace was discovered hidden under one of the bunks and both brothers were charged. Miletea pleaded guilty but Salvatore said in his defense that being British citizens, they had every right to bring goods into the country without paying duty. It made no difference. They were each fined £100.
One can imagine the recriminations as the ship was held up for several weeks. Perhaps, had this not happened, the Mirabita might have sailed past the south coast of the Isle of Wight days earlier. Perhaps the weather would have been clear and calm. Perhaps...who knows?