In this two-part series, Albert Driescher explores stories from the maritime world – both factual and fictional. Read the first part here.
Many sightings of the Flying Dutchman have been reported over the centuries. On 6 April 1823 Captain Owen R.N. logged an encounter with the ghost ship in the logbook of H.M.S Leven. The location was off Danger Point enroute to Simon’s Bay. At first he thought it was his consort, the H.M.S Barracouta, and changed course, bearing down on her. Captain Owen quickly turned tail when this strange ship lowered a boat as he remembered the penalty for receiving letters from the ghost ship. Comparing logbooks two weeks later at Simon’s Bay, they found that the H.M.S Leven and the H.M.S Barracouta were 300 miles apart at the time Captain Owen spotted the mysterious ship.
“She first appeared as a strange red light, as a ship all aglow, in the midst of which light her masts, spars and sails, seemingly those of a normal brig, some two hundred yards distant from us, stood in strong relief as she came up. Our lookout man on the forecastle reported her as close to our port bow, where also the officer of the watch from the bridge clearly saw her…“
This entry into the logbook of H.M.S. Bacchante was made on 11 July 1881 by Lord Charles Scott, then captain of the H.M.S. Bacchante. A distinguished witness to this sighting was Prince George of Wales, later King George V, who served as a midshipman at the time. Sixty years later during WW II, Admiral Karl Doenitz of the German Navy reported that U-boat crews saw the Flying Dutchman off the Cape of Good Hope and said that they would rather face the combined strength of the Allied naval forces than know the terror again upon meeting that spectre.
EcoClipper and the Great Revive
Whether this be fact or fiction is not really the point. What is a fact, though, is that the sea has not lost her enchantment and mysteries. As we march towards Singularity where humans will transcend biology, according to futurist Ray Kurzweil, the disconnect from our environment and from the great stories of the past has left us poorer. However, there is a new awakening among the global community to care for and protect our heritage.
When EcoClipper takes to the waters again to revive the legacy of the old windjammers, it will be part of a green revolution and a reminder of another ancient myth; of the phoenix of the Arabian Desert that will rise again from its own ashes. The concurrency of reality and the many narratives around it is as old as humanity itself. We have an obligation to determine as best as we can where the truth lies (unintended pun!) and follow that narrative. You, dear reader, are part of this story and you have a choice to make as to the role that you will play. Fair winds mates!