is for Flying Dutchman.
Spectral ships are a popular tale. I'll be talking about another famous one later on in the alphabet (bet you can guess which one!).
The Flying Dutchman has long been said to be a portent of death to any ship who sights her. Sailors speak of her in hushed voices. Tales have been told through the centuries of an old tattered ship pulling abreast of another ship. Some say they try to pass letters to the modern ship, hoping that they will be passed on to loved ones in real life.
Whether you believe in the Flying Dutchman or not, she has been sighted by sailors and beach-goers alike, as well as those working lighthouses. Sightings have been recorded in ship's logs. George V, while still a Prince of Wales, sighted her in 1881, along with crew members. The next day, one of their crew died. In 1923 a British Navy crew saw her for fifteen minutes and turned in documentation, which included a drawing.
Funnily enough, though sightings are numerous, there are no reports of a ship actually being sunk after seeing the Flying Dutchman. Who knows? Maybe she's just warning people away from something bad. Some of the reports said the ships had to change course, as the Flying Dutchman was heading straight for them. Why hasn't anyone thought of that possibility before?
|The Flying Dutchman. By Creator:Charles Temple Dix () |
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The thing about the Flying Dutchman is that it's been told so many different ways that there is no one origin story, so I'll tell you the main one.
Captain Van D (many Dutch names have been assigned, so I'm just going with a nickname) and his crew were rounding the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa when they ran into a storm. He was sailing for the Dutch East India Company, and was determined to get his shipment to its destination in time. Faced with a massive storm, he forged ahead, ordering his crew to keep going. Some say they perished at sea, and for his behavior toward his crew, he is forced to sail the seas forever. Other say he challenged the heavens, or possibly Satan, and they were all cursed to stay on the ship forever.
Our mystery here is why groups of people have reported seeing this ship for centuries. Is she really a ghost ship? Is it a real ship that's been sailing all these years? A mass hallucination? How about an optical illusion, as has been suggested?
What do you think? Is she real? If not, how do you explain Naval officers, lighthouse keepers, and sunbathers seeing her at the same time?
May you find your Muse.
Letter F courtesy of Mohammed Ibrahim, clker.com