A noble (and did I mention handsome?) 17th century sea captain, Wolfaert Dircksen Van Ness, featured in my latest novel, Heart of the Storm, inspired me to write about "Ghost Ships..."
|Painting of the Flying Dutchman by Charles Temple Dix (1838-1873)
The Flying Dutchman...almost everyone recognizes the name. But did you know the moniker refers to the Captain of the ship, and not the ship itself?
According to legend, Captain Hendrick Van Der Decken set his course for Amsterdam. During the voyage he encountered a fierce, tumultuous storm while rounding the Cape of Good Hope. The tempest threatened to dash the ship to pieces and end the lives of all aboard. Despite calls from the crewman to turn the ship about, he swore an oath to round the Cape “even if it took him ‘til Doomsday.”
While giant waves hammered the ship, Van Der Decken smoked his pipe, quaffed his ale, and sang obscene songs. In a last ditch effort to save their lives, the crew mutinied. Enraged, the captain took hold of his pistol, killed the chief mutineer and tossed his body into the sea. In that same instant, the clouds parted, and from the heavens, a roaring voice accused him of obstinance.
Since that fateful day, many reputable and experienced sailors have spotted The Flying Dutchman, including Prince Albert Victor of Wales and Prince George of Wales, to name a few. Several U Boat crews reported sighting The Flying Dutchman off the Cape Peninsula as well. Then, on the 26th of January, 1923, four seamen sighted the Dutchman—or at least they believe they saw the Dutchman. At precisely 12:15 A.M. they saw a strange light out in the distance. With the aid of binoculars they made out what they believed to be the hull of a luminous ship with two masts. An eerie mist, created the sails. As the ghostly ship neared their position, the vessel suddenly disappeared...
|The Ghost Ship by John Conroy Hutcheson
And then we have the Lady Lovibond. As the story goes, Simon Reed took his lovely bride aboard this ship on the 13th of February in the year 1748. He and Annette were bound for a honeymoon in Portugal. But as fate would have it, Reed's first mate, a man by the name of John Rivers was deeply in love with Annette as well. During the voyage his jealousy turned to rage. His fury led him to murder the helmsman. He took the wheel and steered the ship toward the unforgiving, Goodwin Sands. These deadly shoals have claimed over two thousand ships, the Lady Lovibond among them. Everyone aboard perished that day.
There are several other ghost ships sailing the waters... We have the Carrol A. Deering, The Young Teazer, The Octavius and of course, the infamous Mary Celeste. Lest I bore you to tears with too lengthy a post, I'll save those for a later day.
So tell me, if you were planning a cruise, which ship would you book passage on? (Do remember, the cuisine on the Dutchman really sucks...)