Some ships from the time period historians typically refer to as “the olden days” surely didn’t make it to harbor due to sickness, fighting, weather, and what have you. Have these old ships just been floating around whole since they became deserted? Would they have fallen apart over the past few centuries? What happens if one is found? But wouldn’t we know about all of their whereabouts due to modern innovations like satellites?
A wooden ship on the ocean would have been eaten by shipworms and destroyed in a couple of years.
Wood also is not a very durable material in the long run. There are very few intact examples of old ships except for those that have had constant maintenance.
A sunken ship nearly always decays in a short amount of time. Only the metal parts survive.
I would imagine that those who didn’t reach their destination probably hit land somewhere, and those that were never seen again probably sank.
Wood doesn’t survive long unless the ship capsizes on its maiden voyage and sinks into very cold water that is free of woodworms. There it can survive in good condition for more than 300 years, as the 17th-century Swedish warship, the Vasa did. You can see it now in a museum in Stockholm.
A ship that has no one at the helm would hive likely sunk way before the worms got to it. They don’t last too long in storm when they’re adrift, though one could have beaten the odds.
And any ship abandoned in a shipping lane would be found by the next ship to come along and taken for salvage, as in the case of the Mary Celeste.
How old are these ‘olden days?’ Are you thinking of Nile River barges from the First Dynasty, ships of the line from the Pirates of Penzance era, or WWII Liberty ships?