The Flying Dutchman, according to folklore, is a ghost ship that is doomed to sail the oceans forever. There have been numerous sightings of the ship, and it is usually spotted from a distance, glowing with ghostly light.
It is said that if she is hailed by another ship, her crew will often try to send messages to land or to people long since dead. In ocean lore, the sight of this phantom ship is reckoned by seafarers to be a sign of impending doom.
The legend of The Flying Dutchman is said to have started in 1641 when a Dutch ship sank off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope:
The Flying Dutchman was returning home to Holland after a trip to the Far East. As the ship approached the tip of Africa, Captain Van der Decken thought that he should make a suggestion to his employers, the Dutch East India Company, to start a settlement at the Cape on the tip of Africa to provide a welcome respite to ships at sea.
He was so deep in thought that he failed to notice the dark clouds looming and only when he heard the lookout scream out in terror, did he realise that they had sailed straight into a fierce storm. The captain and his crew battled for hours to get out of the storm and at one stage it looked like they would make it. Then they heard a sickening crunch - the ship had hit treacherous rocks and began to sink.
As the ship plunged downwards, Captain Van der Decken knew that death was approaching. He was not ready to die and screamed out a curse: "I WILL round this Cape even if I have to keep sailing until doomsday!"
Many people have claimed to have seen The Flying Dutchman, including the crew of a German submarine boat during World War II, many holiday makers and even a King of the United Kingdom.
On 11 July 1881, the Royal Navy ship, the Bacchante was rounding the tip of Africa, when they were confronted with the sight of The Flying Dutchman. The midshipman, a prince who later became King George V, recorded that the lookout man and the officer of the watch had seen the Flying Dutchman and he used these words to describe the ship:
"A strange red light as of a phantom ship all aglow, in the midst of which light the mast, spars and sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong relief."
Soon after on the same trip, the lookout who had spotted The Flying Dutchman accidentally fell from a mast and died. Fortunately for the British Royal Family, the young midshipman survived the curse.