There are many different versions of the legend. According to folklore, the Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship that can never go home, but must sail "the seven seas" forever.
The Flying Dutchman is usually spotted from afar, sometimes glowing with ghostly light. If she is hailed by another ship, her crew will often try to send messages to land, to people long since dead.
Following is one of the versions: The legend of The Flying Dutchman, is said to have started in 1641 when a Dutch ship sank off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope: Captain van der Decken was pleased.
The trip to the Far East had been highly successful and at last, they were on their way home to Holland. As the ship approached the tip of Africa, the captain thought that he should make a suggestion to the Dutch East India Company (his employers) to start a settlement at the Cape on the tip of Africa, thereby providing a welcome respite to ships at sea.
He was so deep in thought that he failed to notice the dark clouds looming and only when he heard the lookout scream out in terror, did he realise that they had sailed straight into a fierce storm. The captain and his crew battled for hours to get out of the storm and at one stage it looked like they would make it.
Then they heard a sickening crunch - the ship had hit treacherous rocks and began to sink. As the ship plunged downwards, Captain VandeDecken knew that death was approaching. He was not ready to die and screamed out a curse: "I WILL round this Cape even if I have to keep sailing until doomsday!"
So, even today whenever a storm brews off the Cape of Good Hope, if you look into the eye of the storm, you will be able to see the ship and its captain - The Flying Dutchman. Don't look too carefully, for the old folk claim that whoever sights the ship will die a terrible death.
Many people have claimed to have seen The Flying Dutchman, including the crew of a German submarine boat during World War II and holidaymakers.
On 11 July 1881, the Royal Navy ship, the Bacchante was rounding the tip of Africa, when they were confronted with the sight of The Flying Dutchman. The midshipman, a prince who later became King George V, recorded that the lookout man and the officer of the watch had seen the Flying Dutchman and he used these words to describe the ship:
"A strange red light as of a phantom ship all aglow, in the midst of which light the mast, spars and sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong relief." It's pity that the lookout saw the Flying Dutchman, for soon after on the same trip, he accidentally fell from a mast and died. Fortunately for the English royal family, the young midshipman survived the curse.
The name and legend of the Flying Dutchman has been used in many ways. In books, movies, Songs, paintings, amusement park rides in, nick-names. video games, airplanes, it is used as a slogan on the planes of the KLM. (Dutch airline) it is the mascot of several Universities, a ski-run, coffee shop, a seafood restaurant, sailing classification, winery, just to name a few.