From children’s stories to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the Flying Dutchman is one of the most popular ghost ships in folklore. In this article, you will also encounter tales of ghost ships that have been seen haunting the Great Lakes, such as the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The Flying Dutchman
According to the legend, the Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship guided by a captain that can never reach home and is doomed to sail the seas forever. Dating back to 1795, the ship is generally seen from far away , sometimes bringing the glow of a ghostly light into view. It is believed that if another ship hails the phantom vessel, the crew will attempt to send messages. Sailors believe that if they catch sight of this ghost ship, it is a sign of misfortune
If you’re looking for a valid explanation as to why sailors believe they are seeing the Flying Dutchman, it a phenomenon called a superior mirage (or Fata Morgana) , where refraction takes place on the water. Since the Flying Dutchman is typically associated with the North Sea, the icy conditions of the water provide the best environment for a superior mirage to take place.
When a superior mirage (or Fata Morgana) of a ship occurs, one may see a variety of faces. In some cases, boats appear as if they are flying, while others simply take on the form of a ghostly image. The appearance of ships representing of this kind are also known to change their look without warning. Real ships can also project the look of a dessert or distorted vessel. Sometimes, the angle of waves and other factors contribute to the sighting of imagined ships.
Ghost Ships in the Great Lakes
If you live near the Great Lakes, you have a handful of chances to catch sight of a ghost ship because three main examples have locals keeping their eyes out for any strange happenings at sea. The Griffon departed Lake Michigan’s Green Bay in September of 1678, but never returned. No remains of the ship have been found to this day. However, in the years to follow, it was said that a handful of sailors have claimed to see the Griffon traveling on the lake.
On November 10, 1975, the well-known Edmund Fitzgerald sank to the bottom of Lake Superior , taking the lives of all 26 crewmembers. Interestingly, a commercial vessel claims they sighted the ore freighter 10 years after its demise. In 1988, a recreational diver enjoying Lake Superior happened upon the wreckage of the steamer Emperor. While the depth of water could have altered his vision, the diver believes that he witnessed the ghost of a crewman who was lying on a bunk. As he swam inside the old wreckage, he claims the ghost turned and looked at him.