ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Legends and Lore: The Flying Dutchman

Updated on April 29, 2019
lindseyburek profile image

Lindsey is a paranormal investigator and researcher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with ten years of experience in the field.

The Flying Dutchman by Charles Temple Dix
The Flying Dutchman by Charles Temple Dix | Source

The Flying Dutchman

When you are standing on the white sands of a quiet beach, staring out into the deep blue of the ocean, do you think of what is out there? Do you think of the thousands of ships that sail the vast waters? The merchants, the yachts, the cruise liners? Do you think of the ones that have never returned? What about the ones that are cursed to sail the seven seas for all eternity?

The Flying Dutchman has been a legend and warning since the early 1600s. The tale is a sorrowful and powerful warning that has taught sailors and passengers alike to respect the might and authority of the ocean. Legend says that Captain Hendrick Vanderdecken (roughly translates to “The Dutchman”), commanded a ship in the early 17th century. Some say the ship was named the “The Flying Dutchman” and some say the title belongs to the captain himself.

The Flying Dutchman set sail for India for the East India Trading Company, as it had numerous times, to pick up supplies to bring back to Holland. As the ship made its return voyage, it encountered a violent and terrifying storm as it rounded the Cape of Good Hope. The winds were fierce and the waves lashed the sides and deck of the ship. The crew began to fear it as a superstitious warning that they needed to return. They begged the captain to turn back and wait out the storm in Africa.

As the winds picked up and lighting lit up the ink black sky, the crew began to grow more fearful. They pleaded with their captain who demanded they still keep sailing. Talk of mutiny began amongst the crew. One member decided to take matters into his own hands and attacked Captain Vanderdecken. The captain defeated the mutinous crewmember and threw him into the angry sea. The captain turned to his crew and shouted his curse, “We won’t give up! We will sail for eternity! We will sail until doomsday!” Lightning lit up the sky, blinding the crew. As the storm dissipated, the ship disappeared into the fog, never to be seen again. The captain had damned his crew and himself to an eternity of sailing the ocean and never being able to make port.

Model of The Flying Dutchman
Model of The Flying Dutchman | Source

Sightings on the Sea

The ghostly ship is said to emerge from the fog on stormy nights. Its tattered sails and ghostly green glow are harbingers of doom. The ship is said to appear on the ocean near shore before a tragedy strikes or heralds the sinking of a nearby ship.

Sightings of the ship have been reported for over four hundred years. In 1951, Nicholas Monsarrat supposedly saw the ship in the Pacific during World War II. In 1881, Prince George (later King George V) and his brother were sailing for Australia when a ghostly ship suddenly appeared in front of them, bathed in an eerie light. They watched the ship glide past them and disappear as quickly as it appeared. Beach goers have also reported seeing The Flying Dutchman. When storms approach the Cape of Good Hope, it is said you can see the outline of a 17th century ship in the storm clouds.

Did you know that the Cape of Good Hope used to be called The Cape of Storms? No wonder The Flying Dutchman is stuck there!

Science!

This legend has been passed around the sea faring community for hundreds of years as a warning to those who would challenge the power of the ocean and put pride before them in the face of danger. As most myths and legends do, this story could have a scientific explanation.

Fata morgana, a complex type of mirage, could explain sightings of The Flying Dutchman. Hot, flat surfaces such as the horizon over the ocean or a long stretch of highway can create illusions. These mirages trick our eyes into seeing images that are not really there, such as an oasis in the desert or a large old ship on the surface of the water. As the viewer gets closer to the object, it disappears. This could account for people on the beach seeing the ghost ship on hot stormy days.

Boredom and fear can also explain sightings. Imagine being a sailor in the 17th century. You’re simply floating on a calm, empty sea, nothing around for hundreds of miles. The imagination can go into overdrive to keep the mind entertained. Now imagine you’re sailing into a raging storm. The ship is being tossed mercilessly in the waves. Fear overtakes you. Extreme fear and panic attacks can cause mild hallucinations. Perhaps these scientific explanations can explain The Flying Dutchman, but it doesn’t make the story any less entertaining.

The Flying Dutchman in Spongebob Squarepants by Nickelodeon
The Flying Dutchman in Spongebob Squarepants by Nickelodeon | Source

In Entertainment

The entertainment industry has used the story of The Flying Dutchman in different formats for years. TV shows such as Spongebob Squarepants have cast the Dutchman as a goofy and lovable ghost who’s trapped in the sea. Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean have been more focused on the darker side of the tale. Numerous books, poems, and artworks have been created with the Dutchman as inspiration.

Watch the Water

The next time you’re out at sea with a drink in your hand, relaxing and letting the salt air blow through your hair, look out into the distance. You may just see The Flying Dutchman.

© 2019 Lindsey Burek

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)