Flying Dutchman

In nautical legend, a Dutch mariner who was doomed to sail against the wind until Judgment Day for uttering a blasphemous oath. Seeing his spectral ship, which is also called by this name, was considered a bad omen by sailors. The ship was said to sail in the vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope with full sails in bad weather.

According to Sir Walter Scott, the ship was originally loaded with precious metal but after a horrible murder a plague broke out among the crew. Subsequently, no port would allow the ship to enter and it was doomed to wander about, never more to enjoy rest.

A different version of the legend depicts the captain and his ship sailing aimlessly in the North Sea while playing dice for his soul with the Devil.

The German composer Richard Wagner adapted the story for his opera Der fliegende Holländer.



  • Bonnerjea, Biren. (1920). A Dictionary of Superstitions and Mythology. Thomson Gale.
  • Cobham Brewer, E. (2001). The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Cassell reference.