The legend of phantom ship Flying Dutchman concerns the Dutch Captain Vanderdecken (or Van Straaten) and his vain attempts to enter Table Bay against impossible winds. It is the subject of Wagner's opera, Der Fliegende Holländer (1843) and Frederick Marryat's novel, The Phantom Ship (1839).
Around the world, this legend takes on other names. In Germany, there is the nobleman Falkenburg and his flaming ghost ship. In Chile, there is the Caleuche.
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'Twas on a dark and stormy night well southward of the Cape, And from a stiff nor'-wester we'd just made our escape. Like an infant in his cradle rocked, ihe breeze lulled us to sleep, While peacefully we ploughed along the bosom of the deep.
At last the helmsman gave a shout of terror and of fear, As if he had just gazed upon some sudden danger near. We looked all round the ocean and there upon our lee We saw the Flying Dutchman come bounding through the sea.
Take in all flowing canvas, now, our watchful master cried, For this for our ship's company great terror does betide. The billows tossed all white with foam and dangerous did appear, As the wind sprang to a hurricane and auld Van Dyke came near.
Here comes the Flying Dutchman, comes fast through the hissing spray, And proceeding by the tempest he heads for Table Bay. With bird-like speed he's borne along before the howling blast, But he never can cast anchor there, for the Bay, alas, he's passed.
Moan, ye Flying Dutchman, moan, for horrible is thy doom: The ocean round the stormy Cape it is thy living tomb; For there Van Dyke must beat about forever, night and day; He tries in vain his oath to keep to anchor in Table Bay.