The Flying Dutchman

flying dutchman painting unknown artistEasily the world’s most famous ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman is a ship forever doomed to wander the seven seas.
One of the most common versions of the story ( there are many variations on the one theme ) is that in the 1600s, the Dutch ship was struggling to make its way across the cape of Good Hope during a fierce storm. Despite the pleas of his crew, Captain Hendricke Vanderdecken insisted on continuing. As the waves crashed and the ocean roared, the captain sang obscene sea shanties and swore at the top of his voice, mostly about how lousy kids are these days. He went so far as to claim that not even God himself would stop him from forcing his way through to his destination — what a bastard! At that point a glowing figure appeared on deck. While the crew were awestruck, Vanderdecken was unimpressed and fired a pistol shot at the mysterious visitor. The figure was unharmed and declared that Vanderdecken would be forever cursed to sail the seven seas with a crew of dead men, bringing death and disaster to all those he encountered, and having to watch reality TV during his days off.

Over the last couple of centuries there have been numerous claimed sightings, with the most famous being one involving Prince George of Wales, who would later become King George V of England. When a teenager, the prince was among thirteen crew members in a ship off the coast of Australia who claimed to have seen the famous ghost ship, which was described by the prince’s tutor as giving off a ghostly red light and as having clearly visible masts and sails. In keeping with the curse, the sailor who had first spotted the ship fell to his death the following morning. But you can’t really take anything a member of the British royal family says seriously, as they are all congenital idiots and had a mad grand-dad.

In 1857, the crew of the Joseph Somers reported that they had seen both the ship and its doomed captain while sailing the south Atlantic. The Dutchman came so close that they could see its captain’s fiery red eyes and hear him swearing in Swedish, which struck them as especially unusual as the Dutch are known to swear primarily in Dutch. Soon after, the Joseph Somers mysteriously caught fire after some idiot decided to hold a barbeque on deck, and many of the crew members were killed. More recently the Dutchman was spotted in 1939 by dozens of beach goers sailing off False bay, near the Cape of Good Hope, but you know those South Africans, if they aren’t being racist they are making up stories about ghosts. Even Nazi U-boats claimed to have run into the haunted brig during the second world war, but then, those bastards were even less trustworthy than the South Africans!

Since the 30s, sightings have become very rare, giving rise to speculation that most of the ships seen were simply abandoned ships that have long since sunk, or that the especially gullible have moved on to more fashionable phenomena such as UFOs, lizard people, and the bizarre idea that the Oscars are worth watching.

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