Stories are usually based on an ounce of truth with the traditions of the time. Retelling the legend from generation to generation eventually turns the story into a popular myth – especially when the storytellers enhanced these stories to intrigue a person’s imagination. One such popular legend was of a seaman, Captain Hendrick van der Decken, who sailed for the Dutch East India Company, in a vessel built with a large cargo bay that would load up with teas, spices and silks from the far East Indies. This ship, and others, would also carry passengers and were armed to defend themselves from pirates. The Captains were total law on-board a ship, and they were no-nonsense men, hardened by their years at sea. Captain van der Decken was one such captain. The Captain left the East Indies loaded down with goods. As he began to round the Cape of Good Hope (at the bottom of Africa where the warm currents of the Indian Ocean mix with the cold currents from the water of the Antarctic), a violent storm came upon them. The Captain swore to the All Mighty that no matter what was thrown at him, he would brave this gale. He was the captain of the ship and in charge of the fate of the ship – not the Lord! The crew were exhausted and eventually mutinied. The Captain killed the ring leader and threw him overboard. As the story continues, once the man’s body hit the water, a voice arose and condemned the ship to sail the seas for eternity, thereby condemning the Flying Dutchman as a ghost ship – just seeing her became a warning of imminent death or danger. Through the centuries, there have been sightings of the ship, leading other ships to crash against the rocks in turbulent waters. Ships report sightings in the distance. The ghostly ship has been known to appear and disappear suddenly. The Dutchman has been known to appear in foggy weather, alongside another ship, wanting to exchange mail. When refused, it fades away. Many ships through the ages have reported seeing her with other ships beside her. The ships sighted near her have never completed their voyage. Lighthouse keepers and famous persons are known to have seen this phenomenon, too. Two famous people of the 20th century – Prince George of Wales (King George V) and Carl Donitz, Senior Commander of the Nazi U-boats, both reported seeing the ghost ship, along with other U-boat captains. The Flying Dutchman appears as a red-lit apparition, sometimes riding the waves, and others floating in the sky. Is it fact, fiction, legend or myth? No one knows. Whatever the apparition is, it is still seen throughout the seas, so sailors beware. But, leave it to Disney to put another twist on this foreboding ship. How so? If you have been to Disneyland, make sure you go aboard the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, where you will see the Flying Dutchman, larger than life, attacking the fort. And remember… “Dead men tell no tales!”
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.