Sailors Describe The Most Unusual Thing They've Ever Witnessed At Sea

Many folktales and fairy stories began owing to unusual things sailors might have spotted out at sea.

Mermaids, sea serpents, lost colonies, the list goes on and on.

Sadly (or thankfully) there is no photographic evidence of monstrous sea life, such as giant squids or dinosaur-like sharks.

But that doesn't mean that sailors and people stationed out at sea haven't seen some unusual things.

Things they still have trouble explaining to this day, and will never forget for the rest of their lives.


Redditor suedemonkey was curious to hear about the strangest sightings sailors ever had while out on the open sea, leading them to ask:
"Sailors of reddit,what's the most unusual thing you've experienced while at sea?"

Don't Even Want To Know How It Got There...

'Out of a submarine periscope, we saw a fully inflated, pink, unicorn floaty toy."

"We were very far from any civilization."- mbreinich

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The Ordinary And The Extraordinary

"We were sailing (330ft. ship) from the North Sea to west Africa."

"I was off shift and sleeping."

"I woke up and for some reason decided to go up to the bridge, which is something I usually never did when I could be sleeping or eating."

"It was night, so all the lights were off on the bridge save for a few red ones, and I noticed how bright it was outside."

"I went over to starboard and the f*cking white cliffs of Dover were completely illuminated by a full moon."

"Just beaming moonlight."

"It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen."


"Of course the mate on duty was English and was nonchalantly like 'yeah, that's Dover'."

"This one isn't me, but a Welsh guy I met in the Caribbean."

"He had done a few transatlantic trips in a small sailboat so had tons of ocean experience."

"A big storm caught him, with huge rolling waves."

"He decided to heave to to ride it out (basically using your sail and the rudder to put the brakes on and give yourself a smoother ride)."

"He was in the cockpit and was riding up one of the bigger waves."

"The next part is wild."

"He swears to god on his grandmother's grave that a giant whale just below the surface cruised up the wave beside him and just stared straight at him."

"He describes looking into this animal's huge eyeball, just looking back at him, for what was probably a couple seconds but he said felt like minutes, from a few feet away."

"He's never lied or really even exaggerated otherwise, so I believe him."

"Can you imagine seeing that?"

"Sometimes I really miss being at sea."- Zebulon_V

blue whale sea GIF by Monterey Bay AquariumGiphy

Les Poissons!

"Flying fish timed a wave right and jumped out the water and through an open hatch directly into the galley."

"Freeboard was like 7 metres."

"The chefs sh*t themselves haha."- BassEvers

Not A Sight Anyone Wants To See

"I was on a run between California and Hawaii, and I was out on deck doing rounds on deck equipment, checking oil levels etc."

"I saw one of those free fall lifeboats just hanging out in the distance and was like wtf."

"I called the bridge, they said a ship accidentally dropped their lifeboat a few years ago and now it turns up from time to time."

"Was glad to know no one was on it, but it gave me a brief scare."- thecactuswrench

Heartbreaking

"Lots of crazy little things, but I was on a ship that lost a man overboard in the Atlantic."

"Reports were that a life saver was thrown immediately after he fell in, the lookout said he saw a swell overtake him as he was going toward the life saver."

"And that was it."

"We searched for hours, never seeing a single sign."

"Search lights in the water."

"Dark shaped swimming past them.'

"Makes you realize how small we are in nature."

"Still think about it to this day."- ConstantTheory255

A Literal Whale Of A Tale

"Was sailing off the coast of the big island Hawaii in February."

"We were mostly interested in fishing since the wind had died down."

"There were no other boats around that were visible and it was a very calm and peaceful day."

"Now often you'll see Humpback whales breaching in Feb and you can also hear them singing if you are underwater."

"That is cool enough, but this encounter was awesome."

"I was baiting a hook, and suddenly on the starboard side of the boat a pod of about 20 melon head whales comes up right beside the boat and they just start staring us down."

"I lean over and this one dude moves a little closer and just keeps moving his head so he can eye me up and down."

"They all just kept staring at us with an expression of 'WTF are these? Hoo interesting, don't look like they can swim at all'."

"They eyed us at close quarters for about 5 min and then just took off."

"The weirdest part of the encounter was the close eye contact I had with the first whale was definitely two individuals sizing each other up."

"Best part of the whole day."- CalEPygous

Ocean Wildlife GIF by BBC AmericaGiphy

A Unique And Magical Experience

"Was gently sailing down the northeast cost of New Zealand heading into Auckland at about 2-3 am."

"I was on watch and the other crew member was asleep below."

"It was a pitch black night, no moon, and the sea was very still so as soon as you look overboard all you saw was black!"

"Eventually you saw stars but it was impossible to distinguish sea from sky."

"As I was keeping a watch I saw what I thought was a shooting star just MUCH bigger!"

"It came again and again agin until there were about 30 of these shining glittering trails shooting around the boat."

"It was very disconcerting and it took me a few minutes to click what was happening."

"We had sailed into a patch of luminescence while dolphins were swimming around the boat planing on both it and our wake."

'I had not noticed them due to it being so dark!"

"For something so simple it was a very moving almost spiritual experience and it will remain one of my all time most fondest memories!"- Smh_nz

Never Leave Port If You're Not Prepared To Do So

"French Navy navigator here."

"A few years back, went underway from Toulon on a high sea patrol ship for a routine patrol."

"The sea was very rough out of the roadstead, coming from the west, which was completely contradictory with what our weather briefs were indicating."

"Captain decided to go ahead nonetheless."

"We took a heading towards the east to enter Hyères Bay, when we entered in the pass, sh*t went down."

"I was outside, starboard wing of the bridge to take bearings when the ship took a 35 degrees list on starboard."

"If I had held my arm out, it would have been underwater."

"I held on the compass for dear life, because going overboard in that weather would have probably meant death."

"Needless to say, I sh*t myself.

"When the ship leveled, my boss went out to check if I was still there, and ordered me to go below to check how bad the damage was to some of our gear."

"I went, and when I was at the main deck, the ship took a 43 degrees list to starboard."

'I was then blessed with the horrific sight of a washing machine that was strapped in a room by the hull on portside punch a hole through the bulkhead and go straight to starboard WITHOUT touching the deck."

"Also, a lot of the firefighting equipment (axes, hoses, pumps...) was just flying all over the place, with guys from the security department desperately trying to catch it and fasten it."

"At that point, we had entered the bay and had better weather."

"We had lost electricity in the bridge and CIC, so the captain decided to wait in the bay for the weather to calm down."

'When it did the next day, we pulled back into port for repairs."

"This little escapade resulted in a few bruises, the electrical network of the bridge and CIC being badly damaged (the guys that were supposed to strap down sh*t didn't do it correctly and got punished) and for me, a reminder of my mortality."

"On a more positive note, I once saw a stork land on our 100mm turret after a sandstorm off Libya, and stay there for several hours."

"Also, we had a couple of sperm whales with a calf swimming alongside, for almost a day off Ivory Coast."

"When you see that kind of stuff, it doesn't matter if you are 3 months in or 20 years in."

"You feel like a kid again."- Hans_Von_Seemann

All Aglow

"My area occasionally gets phytoplankton blooms."

"If you're boating at night and sail into a bloom, the wake of your boat will suddenly start glowing blue."

"It's pretty darn bright, easily seen with the naked eye, and appears out of nowhere."

"One minute you're sailing in complete darkness, the next you're in glowing water."- MyNameIsRay·

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