Flying Dutchman - Encyclopedia




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"FLYING DUTCHMAN," a spectre-ship popularly believed to haunt the waters around the Cape of Good Hope. The legend has several variants, but the commonest is that which declares that the captain of the vessel, Vanderdecken, was condemned for his blasphemy to sail round the cape for ever, unable to "make" a port. In the Dutch version the skipper is the ghost of the Dutch seaman Van Straaten. The appearance of the "Flying Dutchman" is considered by sailors as ominous of disaster. The German legend makes one Herr Von Falkenberg the hero, and alleges that he is condemned to sail for ever around the North Sea, on a ship without helm or steersman, playing at dice for his soul with the devil. Sir Walter Scott says the "Flying Dutchman" was originally a vessel laden with bullion. A murder was committed on board, and thereafter the plague broke out among the crew, which closed all ports to the ill-fated craft. The legend has been used by Wagner in his opera Der fliegende Hollander.

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