The name Dutch is not quite correct. It’s based on Deutsche, which means “people” in German. The Dutch live in Holland, but that is the name of only one region of the country. Officially, the country is called The Netherlands, which means “low lands,” and the language is Dutch, which in Belgium they call Flemish. Now you know why most Dutchmen—oops! Nederlanders speak English so well.
The Dutch have been excellent sailors for a thousand years or more. If you own any kind of boat, you will inevitably be using Dutch words. Are you the skipper of a smack, a sloop, a ketch, or a scow? Maybe you’re the commodore of a cruiser or a yacht? You walk the deck up to the bow to check the jib and bang your head on the boom. You peer over the bulwark at the dock before you hoist sail. You yell “Avast there, you lubbers!” at your crew and watch for the buoy that marks the shoal that has not been dredged. As a precaution, you test the pump. You don’t want a leak if you meet an iceberg. That freight you have onboard doesn’t mean you are a smuggler. Best of luck, and put a shot of brandy or gin in your coffee.
The “Flying Dutchman” is the name of a phantom ship that sails round and round the globe, never to dock. There have been historical sightings of the ship over the past two or three centuries, but skeptics say these were optical illusions. In 1843, German composer Richard Wagner wrote an opera in which the ship’s captain, who once invoked Satan, is doomed to sail forever until he is redeemed by the love of a woman.
A little known historical fact: In 1688, Prince William of Orange (a royal family in the Netherlands) led a fleet of more than fifty warships and hundreds of transports loaded with 40,000 men and 4,000 horses that landed in Kent, England, where he had been invited to take the English throne because he was married to the daughter of James II, who had been overthrown. William was crowned William III, and James II (last of the house of Stewart and a Scotsman) was sent packing. William’s fleet was the biggest ever to be seen in the English Channel until the Normandy Invasion during World War 2. It was also the last successful “invasion” of Britain, which neither Napoleon nor Hitler was able to do.