By: David Rice
To: Drew Webber
Re: Perpetually non-dead Captians
>>RC> Don't forget the crew of the Flying Dutchman.
DW> Can someone PLEASE tell me what the hell the "Flying
DW> Dutchman" is?! I keep hearing it mentioned in here, but
DW> I've never figured out where it came from.
Read my book _Six_Ways_Damned_ when it comes out.
A Dutchman is a sailing vessel, short for "Dutch man-of-war" though
oddly enough some / most were merchant. They gave Nelson's Navy
quite a thump or two. It had long bow-chasers, with a total gun
compliment capable of casting anywhere from 700 to 900 pounds of
shot (total, both sides).
There are several legends that all claim to be the "original" Flying
Dutchman one, but very likely they all evolved from Norse legend.
The best known is of course the Gotterdamerung Captain Vanderdecken
from the Wagner opera.
Captian Vanderdecken was an arrogant, blasphemous tyrant who ruled
his vessel with an iron fist. He was struggling to beat his vessel
around The Horn into South Pacific waters and was not doing a very
good job of it. Ships in those days had a very nasty problem with
their "lee helm." Ballast and keel helped, but ships did not sail
anywhere near close to the wind (unlike most sailboats of today,
which may sail very close to the wind). This meant that The Foul
Captian had to beat back-and-forth into the wind (changing the
apparent wind's direction) in order to round the Horn without
having to go too far South and risk ice.
Try as he might, Vanderdecken would get up to the cape and be blown
back from whence he came, and he would have to make a large circle
to come around and try again. A less proud man would simply have
risked the Southing, but damnitall, he was going to go where he
willed, and nothing could make him veer from his chosen route.
Time and time again he would almost get past the rough and choppy
water of the Horn, and time and time again the harsh storms would
blow him back. He stood on his quarterdeck, rain and wind lashing
his upturned face, cursing god in an endless, relentless stream of
blashphemy. He cried out "Oh you my God! I -WILL- make this
crossing, Thou deny it me or no!"
At that, the storm fell quiet, the sea grew rapidly calm, and the
Archangel Gabriel decended on the bow, facing the Captian and his
crew. The members of the crew fell instantly on their faces in fear
and suplication, but the Captian retained his feet. Cabriel more or
less asks the Captain what the hell his problem is. Gab tells the
Captian to repent of his blasphemy. Vanderdecken picks up a belay
pin and throws it at Gabriel's head, telling the angel to get the
hell off his ship.
Naturally Gabriel damns The Foul Captian to forever attempt the
Horn, again and again, until Judgment day (with exceptions). The
crew eventually die one by one, but the Captian lives on and on
and on, cursing god. Every seven years he is allowed briefly on
shore to find a woman who's heart and soul is pure, but that's
another story added to the legend later.