Flying Dutchman

I was surprised that there was no mention of Philip Nolan (The Man Without A Country) in Matt Craver’s report. Was there any reason for that omission?

John

Here is a link to the staff report in question: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2853/who-or-what-is-the-flying-dutchman

I suppose there is a resemblance, but Philip Nolan was never anything but a passenger (apart from the one time he manned a gun) and there is no supernatural factor.

The last paragraph, however, omits the vital fact that you’ll receive a phial of invisibility if you call out, “Hello sailor!” at the right moment.

Dude, I tried it, but missed the precise moment, and got a kick in the nads for my trouble.

Story relaid by my Scoutmaster when he thought kids weren’t listening: A fellow aboard his ship im WWII heard that a way to make money during shore leave was to, while taking oral submission, kick the sender in the kidneys. He kicked too late and both recieved all his date had to offer but also the supreme sentence. He was labled as a 1944-version of LOSER!

Actually, given the various “exiles” he does refer to in the latter part of the report, it would seem that referring to “The Man Without a Country” would be a natural, if for no other reason than to point out that, as late as the time that story was written, “exile” was still a significant threat.

Nice report, Matt!

Good report.
Johan Cruijff was also called the flying dutchman.:smiley:
oops ! Posted in wrong place :smack:. Mods, please move this .

There was an echo of the old stories also in the 2004 movie “The Terminal”, about a stateless man unable to leave the air transportation system. It would have been a better parallel if he had kept boarding planes, but that would cost too much money!

I merged the thread you started into the ongoing one in Comments on Staff Reports.

Gfactor
Moderator

Actually, that movie was inspired by, (hardly based on), the travails of an actual person who lived at Charles de Gaulle Airport for several years. Merham Karimi Nasseri (aka Sir, Alfred Merhan), is an emotionally disturbed guy who was trapped, (sort of), without official papers.

Tom, Tom, Tom… Try http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/981/has-a-guy-been-stuck-in-the-paris-airport-since-1988-for-lack-of-the-right-papers

You are correct, of course, but I was a bit stunned by the sheer volume or exile stories from around the world. Almost every oral tradition I looked at had at least one. I could have included any number of others, but there’s no doubt that one would have highlighted the recentness.

Is that a new title I see under your name?

Welcome, Matt. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the welcome and thanks to Dex for inviting me.

I’ve been reading The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. In Chapter XXXVI, the hero runs into some Jacobites in France.

Ah, John – I haven’t read Peregrine Pickle since High School… Tried Humphrey Clinker?

I’m proceeding in chronological order, so Humphrey is last.

You read Peregrine Pickle in High School? Good Lord!

My old master (yes, I was his apprentice) served 30 years in the Navy. He was an Old Salt, joining the Navy at a time when it was filled with cutthroats and rapists (who joined to escape civilian authorities) and was taught to wield a cutlass in case of boarding by hostiles. He had many tales to tell. St. Elmo’s fire, horrible deaths including one sailor, returning stone drunk from shore leave in Asia, who, despite being warned off it, fiddled with the ships power supply and was electrocuted, falling to the ground and emitting blue flames from his stomach (the burning alcohol).

He picked up dead bodies on Normandy for three days straight, stacking them like cords of wood. He grew up in Chicago and knew Al Capone and was invited to join the gang due to his shooting abilities. A safecracker taught him how to break vaults.

He was 82 when I was his 17 year old apprentice and he was filled with stories. How many were true I will never know.

But he did say that, more than once, he saw ships in the sky. Naval battlecruisers and such. His explanation is that they were indeed there, but over the horizon and that through an atmospheric quirk, they were magnified and quite visible flying in the sky. I have always assumed the Flying Dutchman was linked to this phenomenon.

This is a fairly common mirage at sea, I’ve seen them myself sailing off Cape Cod. The image is confusing because of refraction in the atmosphere, but the seen vessel is really there. For all you could ever want as an explanation of mirages like this check out this web page. The quick explanation is that refraction bends the light below the apparent horizon, causing the viewed object to appear above the horizon.

All that said, The Flying Dutchman is not usually depicted or described as a ghost ship flying through the air. Other sailors are able to board her quite normally, for example. So I don’t think that this mirage has a lot to do with the origin of the Dutchman legend. As I said in the report, tales of exile are wove into the deepest levels of our collective culture, right back to Genesis and Odysseus.

On the gripping hand, there are other stories of ghost ships that might be related to this kind of mirage. Gunlayers at the Battle of Falklands, for example, reported seeing a tall ship under full sail glide between the lines of German armored cruisers and the British battlecruisers towards the end of the battle just before both German cruisers capsized and sank.

Not a ghost - this was the full-rigged Norwegian ship “Fairport”.

Similarly, at the Battle of the Dogger Bank a Dutch sailing ship passed down between the German battle cruisers and Admiral Beatty’s pursuing squadron, while the Norwegian barque “Candace” was briefly caught under full sail between the opposing British and German fleets at the Battle of Jutland (as was the small Danish tramp steamer “N.J. Fjord”).