A spectral ship, seen in stormy weather off the Cape of Good Hope, and considered ominous of ill-luck. Sir Walter Scott says she was originally a vessel laden with precious metal, but a horrible murder having been committed on board, the plague broke out among the crew, and no port would allow the vessel to enter. The ill-fated ship still wanders about like a ghost, doomed to be sea-tossed, but never more to enjoy rest. Captain Marryat has a novel called The Phantom Ship.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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