For hundreds of years, the story of the “Flying Dutchman” has grabbed the attention of many
people around the world. A story told from generation to generation. A ship is making a
treacherous journey back to port, but never makes it back. A ship, now cursed, must sail the sea
forever, and ever, and ever...! According to William DeLong, in his article, “The Mystery Of The
Flying Dutchman Explained By The Physics Of Light”, the captain of the ship, Captain Handrick
van der Decken, who went by “The Dutchman”, said in the midst of the storm, it was too late to
retrace the route from which he came from, and decided to keep pushing forward, which led to
the sinking of the vessel
The Flying Dutchman
Legend has it that the myth of the “Flying Dutchman” has been in existence since, as early as the 17th century. Stefan Andrews, in his article, “For 250 years, people have spotted the Flying Dutchman... doomed to sail the Seven Seas forever”, says writings about the ship started in the 18th century, but official sightings of the ship were not recorded up until the 19th and into the 20th century. It is believed that the ship looks “ghost-like” and not like normal ships that normally sail the seas. Author of “Ghost Ships”, Daniel Loxton states, “A strange ship slides by. It is silent and empty, without a living soul on board. Passing like a phantom, it vanishes into the night.” (Loxton 64). The use of solid descriptions in this article, bring the “ghost-like” nature of the ship to life.
It is said that the ship will destroy any other ship that sees and/or approaches it. The article,
“Ghost Ship: The Mysterious Flying Dutchman”, written by Shamseer Mambra, says, “the
Dutchman is called the harbinger of death and destruction for those vessels which have sighted
it. It has also been retold countless times that letters and missives used to be passed onto those
ships that passed the Dutchman in their route. The opening of these letters and missives by the
crew resulted in the ships getting destroyed and the crew parting with their lives.” (Mambra).
The lives of those who crossed paths with the Flying Dutchman, were sentenced to a death
provided by the vessel itself.
The story of the “Flying Dutchman” has been so heavily discussed around the world that many
types of media have picked up on the legend and have put their own twist on the story. Natasha
Sheldon, author of the article, “The Truth Behind the Legends of the Flying Dutchman”, says
that the story of this legendary ship has inspired many creators to put their own twist on the
story, through plays, paintings, poetry, and even motion pictures. In “The Story Of ‘The Flying
Dutchman’”, written by National Public Radio, it is said that the story of the ship is told through
an opera written by Richard Wagner, and it tells the story but with its own unique twist. Kerri-
Ann Bevis, who wrote the article, “The Legend of the Flying Dutchman, the Ghost Ship of the
Cape”, talks about how the story of the Flying Dutchman was featured in an opera, written by
Richard Wagner, with a story of a man on the hunt for love. This brings forth the question, what
is the true story of the Flying Dutchman? The answer to that is that the world may never know.
Andrews, Stefan. “For 250 years, people have spotted the Flying Dutchman, the phantom ship
doomed to sail the Seven Seas forever.” The Vintage News, 12 Jul. 2017,
Bevis, Kerri-Ann. “The Legend of the Flying Dutchman, the Ghost Ship of the Cape.” The
Culture Trip, 30 Nov. 2017, https://theculturetrip.com/africa/south-africa/articles/the-
DeLong, William. “The Mystery Of The Flying Dutchman Explained By The Physics Of Light.”
All That’s Interesting, 2 Apr. 2018, https://allthatsinteresting.com/flying-dutchman.
Accessed 13 October 2021.
Life’s Biggest Questions. “What If The Flying Dutchman Was Real?” Youtube, 21 February
Loxton, Daniel. “Ghost Ships.” Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine, 2017,
Mambra, Shamseer. “Ghost Ship: The Mysterious Flying Dutchman.” Maritime Insight:
Maritime History, 3 Sep. 2021, https://www.marineinsight.com/maritime-history/ghost-
Ryder, Albert Pinkham. “Flying Dutchman.” Wikipedia Commons, 24 October 2006,
Sheldon, Natasha. “The Truth Behind the Legends of the Flying Dutchman.” History Collection,
14 Sep. 2018, https://historycollection.com/the-truth-behind-the-legends-of-the-flying-
“The Story of ‘The Flying Dutchman.’” National Public Radio, 7 October 2011,
For Further Research:
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “Flying Dutchman.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 26 April
2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Flying-Dutchman. Accessed 19 October 2021.
This source gives basic information on the legend of the ship. It also talks about pieces of
literature that were written based off the legendary ship and the story behind it.
“Flying Dutchman.” Wikipedia, 5 October 2021,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Dutchman. Accessed 19 October 2021. This
resource talks about the origins of the Flying Dutchman and the sightings of the ship. It
also talks about optical illusions and how the story is recreated through many different
types of media.
Sullivan, Kerry. “Legend of the Flying Dutchman, Ghostly Apparition of The Ship of Captain
Hendrick.” Ancient Origins, 20 May 2021, https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-
legends/legend-flying-dutchman-ghostly-007285. Accessed 19 October 2021. This source
talks about the legend of the Flying Dutchman and the voyage and curse of the ship. It
also talks about the legacy that the Flying Dutchman holds and how the story continues to
be told through operas.