For travellers who like their paranormal activity, here is a story that would definitely get you motivated to visit the Cape Point area of Cape Town.
Cape Point offers more than just beautiful views and flora and fauna. It is home to ghostly tales and stories of shipwrecks.
Imagine, if you will, walking across the rugged rocks one morning in the calm after a storm. The mist rolls in, bringing with it an icy chill. In the distance, you hear creaking and a faint whistling sound.
Is it just the wind moaning? Or is it creaking wooden boards and the groans of the crew of the Flying Dutchman?
The legend of the Flying Dutchman was born after a ship captained by Hendrik van der Decken was reported missing at sea in 1641. The ship was on its way back from a successful trading mission to Indonesia – its cargo-holds full of silks and spices.
As the ship approached Cape Point, the weather turned. Whether it was the love of his family or the greed of his bounty that spurred him on is not known, but Van der Decken was determined to push forward through the storm. The stronger the wind blew, the more determined Van der Decken became to round Cape Point.
As the Flying Dutchman was tossed by the waves and turned by the wind, Van der Decken raised his fist to the roaring skies and swore an oath: “I shall round this damned Cape, even if I have to sail until Doomsday comes.”
For the crew of the ship, it certainly was Doomsday. It is said that Van der Decken’s wish was granted, and miraculously the waters calmed. Despite this, the ship went missing. It is said that the ship and its entire crew were doomed to sail the seas around Cape Point – forever cursed.
Another famous Flying Dutchman story is that one night, while it was sailing around the famously stormy seas of the Cape, a fight broke out between its drunken captain and the ship’s crew. The captain killed the crew leader and threw his body into the ocean, only to be cursed by a mysterious shadowy figure that suddenly appeared on board. Some believe this is where the ship’s woes began.
Many claim to have seen the ghostly ship and have heard the pleas of the crew, desperate to send word of their plight to their loved ones. There have been countless sightings over the years, with all descriptions bearing striking similarities.
Here’s what is known:
- She has a strange glow, even during the day.
- She attempts to make contact with other sailors, signalling her intent to lower a boat and deliver messages to home.
- Her sails are full, even in the calmest weather.
Sightings have been reported by sailors, passengers on ships, and even ordinary residents of the False Bay area. But one particularly notable sighting came from the King of England, George V, when he was a young man in the Royal Navy.
On 11 July 1881, aged 16, George V was a midshipman aboard the HMS Bacchante as it rounded Cape Point on its way to Australia. At four in the morning, young George saw a strange ship that glowed with a red light as she approached.
It is said to be bad luck to spot the Flying Dutchman, and certainly a terrible mistake to accept the letters for home that her crew wish to give to passing ships.
There were two other witnesses on that night aboard the Bacchante – the lookout, of course, and the officer of the watch. Seven hours later, the lookout fell from his perch on the rigging and died.