The Flying Dutchman
In the fog of war Print E-mail
The Flying Dutchman

Flying DutchmanIn the fog of war - As recently as March 1939, the ghost ship was seen in False Bay, South Africa by dozens of bathers in neighbouring Glencairn who supplied detailed descriptions of the ship, although most had probably never seen a 17th century merchant vessel.

The British South Africa Annual of 1939 included the story, derived from newspaper reports : “With uncanny volition, the ship sailed steadily on as the Glencairn beach folk stood about, keenly discussing the whys and wherefores of the vessel. Just as the excitement reached its climax however, the mystery ship vanished into thin air as strangely as it had come.” 

On the third of August, 1942, H.M.S. Jubilee was on the way to the Brittish Navy base at Simonstown, near Cape Town. At 9 p.m., a phantom sailing ship was seen. The second officer, Davies, was in charge of the watch. Sharing this duty was the third officer, Nicholas Monsarrat. Monsarrat signalled to the strange ship, but there was no response.

Davies recorded in the log that a ship, of a class that he did not recognise, was moving under full sail, even though there was no wind. The Jubilee had to change course to avoid a collision. Davies' superiors would have been in no mood for nonsense, and he had to weigh that against the danger, especially in wartime, of not recording the strange things he saw. According to Nazi Admiral Karl Doenitz, U-Boat crews also logged sightings of the Flying Dutchman off the Cape Peninsula. For the crews, these sightings proved to be a terrible omen.

Inspired by the legend Print E-mail
The Flying Dutchman


Inspired by the legend - The Flying Dutchman is the most famous ghost ship inspiring Wagner's opera Der Fliegende Hollander. Wagner, however, calls the captain himself "The Flying Dutchman". The air miles club of Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) is also, predictably, called "The Flying Dutchman". A popular class of yacht is called "Flying Dutchman" and in Amsterdam there is a cannabis seed shop called “The Flying Dutchmen”. The ghost ship provides the name for traditional English pubs, and even a great American baseball star, Honus Wagner, was nicknamed "The Flying Dutchman". You may have seen the old movie Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, starring Ava Gardner. Even cartoon hero, Sponge Bob has a nemesis called the Flying Dutchman. And then of course there is the ghost ship (complete with skeleton crew) in the blockbuster ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ starring Johnny Depp.


Other Dutch ghost ships Print E-mail
The Flying Dutchman


Other Dutch ghost ships - Versions of the Flying Dutchman story are numerous in nautical folklore and are often related to earlier medieval legends such as that of Captain Falkenburg who was cursed to ply the North Sea until Judgment Day, playing at dice with the Devil for his own soul. Almost forgotten nowadays is another phantom Dutch East Indiaman that haunts the Cape. This ghost ship is the Libera Nos, aboard which Bernard Fokke captains a literally skeleton crew. The Van Diemen, another Dutch ghost ship, haunts seas close to modern day Indonesia.


Possible explanations for sightings Print E-mail
The Flying Dutchman

Possible explanations for sightings - Recently, scientists have offered a new explanation for the Flying Dutchman sightings. A common effect known as looming occurs in optics when the rays of light are bent across different refractive indices. This could make a ship just off the horizon appear as if it were hoisted in the air.

Origins of Captain Vanderdecken Print E-mail
The Flying Dutchman


Origins of Captain Vanderdecken - According to some sources, a 17th century Dutch captain called Bernard Fokke is the model for the captain of the ghost ship. Fokke was renowned for the uncanny speed of his trips from Holland (around the tip of Africa) to Java in Dutch-India. He was suspected of being in league with the devil to achieve this speed.


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