Flying Dutchman Ghost Story – The Phantom Ship


flying dutchman ghost story

When it comes to the subject of haunted ships the Flying Dutchman ghost story always top the bill. Over the centuries it seems to have evolved into a legend but the story is actually based on fact…

Hendrick Vanderdecken

The Flying Dutchman ghost story is actually based on a vessel captained by Hendrick Vanderdecken in 1680.

Vanderdecken and his vessel were on a journey across the seas from Amsterdam to Batavia ( India ). His ship was trying to manoeuvre around the Cape of Good Hope when it got hit by the full force of a storm.

His crew warned him that this severe storm was some sort of sign from god and they should avoid it at all costs. He was having none of it and told them to proceed through the bad weather.

The ship did not get very far and sunk to the depths of the ocean taking Vanderdecken and his panic stricken crew with it.

It is believed that Vanderdecken and his ship were doomed to roam the waters for eternity as a punishment for causing the death of his entire crew.


Most people find the Flying Dutchman ghost story appealing due to the fact there has actually been reported sightings throughout history.

One of the initial sightings was reported in 1835 by a ship from the UK. When out at sea the captain and the crew witnessed a terrible storm approaching behind a ghostly outline of a ship.

The Flying Dutchman by Charles Temple
The Flying Dutchman by Charles Temple

There was a mass panic due to the fact this ship was heading straight for their vessel. As the phantom ship reached their position it disappeared with the storm as quickly as it had appeared.

In 1881 the Flying Dutchman was again spotted by two of the crew upon the ship H.M.S. Bacchante. This sighting was considered to be a curse due to the fact one of these crewmen perished at sea the following day!

In March 1939 the phantom ship was again spotted around the coast of South Africa. This time there were numerous witnesses on the beach area that claimed they had seen it float past. They all provided detailed descriptions of the ship and what had happened.

The ship had apparently appeared out of thin air causing quite a stir with bathers on the beach. Everyone stopped what they were doing and ventured towards the water’s edge to get a closer look.

Just as the excitement reached its climax the ship disappeared as quickly as it had appeared!

The Last Contact

The final report that concludes the Flying Dutchman ghost story came about in 1942. This time the phantom ship was spotted off the coast of Cape Town by four witnesses.

They all stood in amazement as the ship suddenly appeared in the distance and then sail it’s way into Table Bay. As it approached it suddenly disappeared into thin air!

If you have any questions or opinions on the Flying Dutchman we would love to hear from you. Please leave them in the comment section below!


4 comments on “Flying Dutchman Ghost Story – The Phantom Ship

  1. Love your site! Very enjoyable read. One question though…how would anyone know what his crew thought? Apparently they are all dead. Was just wondering if you had any further information on that part. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

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