Tales have filtered down through generations of a phantom ship, her masts broken and her canvas in shreds. Flying before the gale, Doomed to battle forever to round the Cape.

Sounds like a scene out of a pirate movie?

Legend has it that when the wind howls and the waves crash against the rocks, the world's most famous ghost is reputed to haunt the waters off the Cape of Good Hope –

The Flying Dutchman. flying dutchman

Some say the legend goes back to Bartholomew Diaz, the Portuguese navigator, who drowned when his ship sank of the Cape.

The most often told version of the tale claims that the ship is captained by a Dutchman, Captain van der Decken, who ran into a storm, while homeward bound in 1641. It is said that while his ship was sinking, he swore that he would round the Cape till doomsday. Seafarers believed that all who caught a glimpse of the Dutchman would perish!

Keepers of the lighthouse at the tip of the CapePeninsula have often reported seeing a sailing ship at the height of the storm

During World War Two, German U-Boats logged sightings of the ship and in 1939 a group of holidaymakers claimed to have seen a battered old ship suddenly materialize.

Perhaps the most famous sighting was on July 1881, when a young midshipman recorded in his dairy:

"At 4AM the Flying Dutchman crossed our bows. The lookout man on the forecastle reported her as close to the port bow, where the officer on watch clearly saw her… a strange red light as a phantom ship all aglow. In the midst of which light the mast, spars and sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong belief."

Soon afterwards, the lookout man fell from the mast to his death, but the curse of the Flying Dutchman left the midshipman unscathed.

He later became King George V.