Dutch Folklore Wikia

Slapend Hindeloopen is a story about how the city of Hindeloopen in Friesland "fell asleep". The story revolves around the lineage of the Wybesz family, starting with Auke Wybesz, his son Wybe Aukesz and his grandson Pytter Wybesz. It all starts when grandfather Auke was still a young captain of his transporter ship which was called "de Witte Hond" (translation: The White Dog) at the time.

Ships setting sail in the Hindeloopen harbor, by Gerard Huttinga (1883-1963)


In 1703 the mayor of Hindeloopen embarked the Witte Hond and handed Auke Wybesz a letter containing 7 seals carrying the mark of Amsterdam (Three X's). Auke was told to bring this letter to the tsar of st. Petersburg, a city which he then had not heard of before. Upon arrival Auke found the city still under construction and was the first to moor his ship. Auke followed the harbor master to a hut where he made himself comfortable. Unknowingly Auke ate, drank and smoked in the company of their majesty the tsar and tsarina who were dressed as commonfolk. Upon discovering the true colors of his company, Auke fell to the floor and begged for forgiveness.[1] This amused Peter the Great. He was very pleased with Auke's arrival and granted his ship all sorts of privileges for as long as his vessel was carried by the same keel. Upon that moment, he renamed Auke's ship "The St. Petersburg". Soon enough the two of them became business partners. Tsar Peter even became godfather of Auke's son who continued the lucrative family business.

The Wybesz residence in Hindeloopen slowly filled up with valuables from Auke's expeditions and his son Wybe Aukesz in his turn added more treasure to the pile. Eventually Wybe fathered a son of his own and named him after the tsar. He too continued the family tradition.

A gipsy supposedly told Pytter the st. Petersburg would sink one night, causing for the city of Hindeloopen to "fall asleep". As such Pytter carefully maintained the boat, making absolutely certain during reconstructions of his father's ship that the keel would remain unchanged. Eventually Pytter too became a father, but tragedy befell him. After one of his long trips he turned home to learn that both his wife and only son weren't alive. He found no consolation in words of the cityfolk, for his popularity was measured only by the size of his treasure and within their eyes he saw a deep desire to get a piece of the heirless fortune. Rarely did Pytter return to visit Hindeloopen at all but whenever he did, he loaded his ship with valuables. On his last trip to Hindeloopen he paid his crew a royal sum upon which they decided to celebrate in Amsterdam. Pytter stayed in Hindeloopen where he sneaked through the night with the last few valuables from his home which he dragged onto the ship. Then he threw a burning torch inside one of the cabins and loosened the ropes so that the st Petersburg made for open waters where the boat finally sank with the crack of its keel. The people of Hindeloopen were quick to warn Pytter but he did not respond. After inviting themselves inside his house, they found Pytter dead on the floor, amidst shards of porcelain that looked like it came from the tipped over closet that joined him on the floor. Alternatively Pytter had his ship demolished claiming that strangers are not to take advantage of his family's heirloom. [2]

Truth About The Wybes Family[]

A portrait of what could be Pieter Wiebes hangs in the Hidde-Nijlands museum in Hindeloopen but it may very well be the portrait of an unnamed sailor from Amsterdam. In truth grandson Pieter was the only person in this story to ever really exist. He did run a ship named the st. Petersburg which he had heired, but his real father was named Wiebe Syverts (or Wybe Sybes alternatively[3]) who used to ship medicine to the Russian tsar. A man named Jacobus Scheltema who was acquainted with Pieter's only daughter twisted the truth for reasons unknown. The registers of Hindeloopen have no record of Auke Wybes or Wybe Aukes. Besides, it has since been clear that the first person to ever moor in st. Petersburg was Jan 'brom' Hillebrandsen from Terschelling. [4]