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.
"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."- mbreinichblow up summergram GIF by SummerfestGiphy
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_Vblue whale sea GIF by Monterey Bay AquariumGiphy
"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
"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."- CalEPygousOcean 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
"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·climate change animation GIFGiphy
Life out on the open sea is unpredictable, and sometimes scary.
But those brave enough to venture into it, always return with a story to tell.
Sailors Break Down The Creepiest Thing They've Experienced At Sea
I love the ocean. I love the sea.
But it freaks me out. I hate going to the beach at night because you never know what is lurking in the dark waters.
That's why I could never be a sailor or in the navy. I'd be too nervous about what lies beneath.
Sailing was made fun by Johnny Depp, but you'd have to be as drunk as Jack Sparrow to navigate the life at sea.
We have no idea really about the waters that surround us.
Redditordeaddamselwanted to hear from all the sailors out there, tell us some stories.
It was asked:
"Sailors, what's the creepiest thing you've ever seen or experienced at sea?"
I once was on a fabulous cruise.
I loved the days at sea, but I had a few moments where I feel like I saw and heard some things on the open waters that were questionable.
Especially at night.
"Hundreds of sea snakes feasting on the bloated corpse of some kind of animal." ~ goat-of-mendesGiphy
"On a boat in Alaska recording humpback whale sounds, we picked up an odd, rhythmic noise on the hydrophone. We were on a 100 ft schooner around Admiralty Island, near Juneau."
"Nothing seen on the surface, just this odd repetitious mechanical sound. The skipper contacted the local authorities who seized the tape and spent several hours interviewing him. Not that scary, but surely weird." ~ dvmdv8
"We had a noise "shine" down on us my second time out. We were smoking and our bridge also saw/heard/ confirmed it."
"It was a pretty bright starry night, but this one area was a little brighter and had this dull washed out shaft appearance to it, a lot like seeing the Milky Way overhead in the sky."
"We passed right by it and there was a cyclical sound like 'WEEwahwahwahWEEwahwahwah' somewhere between a humming and a sort of siren. It wasn't loud, almost more of a frequency, about 3 or 4 miles wide maybe, coming down not quite vertically."
"We could see it every time we checked for over an hour behind us, then we checked and it was totally gone."
"I wasn't horrified or anything, but the creepy part was how quiet everyone was. We all just kind of looked at each other and cracked a few nervous jokes."
"Not as juicy as seeing The Flying Dutchman or something like that, but I still think about it every time I see the night sky."
"Scariest thing? No doubt the 40-50-60ft crests and being at a 45 degree angle for like 10 seconds at a time." ~ AlienSasquatchhunter
floating at the top of a big nothing...
"Not a sailor, but I've spent more time out at sea than most because of my fondness for most boat related stuff. Even though I enjoy being out there, it always has kinda of an eerie feel. I live in the south of Norway, and the North Sea is really dark, even on the most beautiful days you can max see a meter down."
"Well this one time I was out by myself, in a pretty small, about 14 feet boat. It was one of these "not sunny" but still adequate weather days. Well, long story short I lost control over the engine and my boat spun around, landing me just underneath it."
"As I saw mentioned in another post, I have never felt as vulnerable as just then, floating at the top of a big nothing. You know there is nothing for possibly hundreds of feet underneath you."
"Probably the worst part of it is when you have to duck under the boat to get up and away. You just stare down into the abyss. You can choose not to look, but then it's almost just worse. There are no big sharks or that sort here, but still."
"You feel like there is just something, down there in the dark. I managed to keep calm and after about half an hour someone must have spotted me, cause I was soon picked up by the local SAR boat. I still don't like to look down into water, but I will continue enjoying the sea, as long as I am above the surface." ~ VelocityTM1
"Not creepy, but saw the Green Flash one morning when I was in the Navy." ~ DEdwardPossumGiphy
Free Willy is not out there just waiting for us.
That was one whale in one movie.
There are a lot more dangerous creatures swimming about.
"Sailing at night and hearing the dolphins surround the boat. You can hear their wakes and blowhole sounds all around you, but you can't see them. It's creepy." ~ upeepsareamazballzGiphy
"Was sailing on a tall ship in the open sea. Good breeze so making 12+ knots and heeled over so hard that, over the rail, you were almost looking straight into the water."
"Out of nowhere a dark gray shape, maybe 20ft long, pulls right up along side us. Just paces us, for 1-2min, right over that starboard rail and keeping up like it's nothing."
"Then it rolls over and we see a bright white belly before it disappears under the waves. To this day I have no idea what it was." ~ Nephroidofdoom
"I woke up to take a piss. Head was occupied, went to the stern. The entire sea behind the boat was glowing glowing blue."
"My piss stream made these beautiful colors of aquamarine and violet. Thought I was hallucinating or dreaming and went back to bed."
"I stayed awake petrified I had died and was in some sort of alternate reality or something. Told no one for years."
"Found a video online, apparently it's a type of bioluminescent algae. It f'ked with me for far longer than it should." ~ the-goku-special
The Ship Speaks
"Leading Seamen here, nothing scarier then doing a round (walking around exterior decks checking rooms for fires and such) when the ship is under way at night so it's pitch black and only a red flashlight for light and the ships engines are very loud, I always get the sense there's something following you in the dark/if you fell in no one would know for at least 20 minutes or much more." ~ DistributionUpper634
"My great uncle never talked about his time in the Navy, but I can absolutely answer this for him. He was at Pearl Harbor during the attack. He also participated in the shelling of Iwo Jima." ~ Abadathawar hbo GIF by Game of ThronesGiphy
I'm good on dry. land.
But mad props and thanks to the people who make their living on the sea.
We need sailors and fishermen.
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Never miss another big, odd, funny or heartbreaking moment again.
The vastness of the ocean remains an elusive wonder that continues to inspire exploration.
The one time I was certified and immediately went scuba diving in Cozumel, I was blown away by everything I saw while underwater.
All the National Geographic specials and documentaries about the depths of the ocean and its secrets could not have prepared me for what I witnessed firsthand.
I was captivated by all of the innocuous aquatic life that were alien to this nascent diver. I must admit, however, how much the silence creeped me out.
But those who have spent significant hours at sea probably have a whale of a tale – or two – to tell about rare sights and encounters they've witnessed and would chuckle at my amateur observations.
GeneralJagers visited askReddit and encouraged sailors to share their anecdotes by asking:
"The first time you see a large sea turtle is kinda strange they look like floating boulders."
"But the sea for as strange as it is is an amazing place as well seeing a flying fish or looking in the water and seeing fish as far as you can see is incredible."
"I saw this quote on one of these once: 'The sea gives and takes in equal measure.'"
"Blase About Dolphins"
"My absolute favourite thing to see on a four month trip in the Gulf and Indian Ocean was flying fish and a huuuuuuuuuuge Leatherback sea turtle I spotted sunning on the surface one evening."
"Get rather blase about dolphins, don't you? They're not at all a rare sight, especially out that way. Even UK coastal, I can guarantee to see dolphins and porpoises at least a couple times a day."
Curious White Shark
"I worked on a cage-diving boat off South Africa. I saw plenty of incredible things, but one day we had a 5+ meter female white shark come up next to the boat. She was completely uninterested in the cage, the chum, or the baitlines, but just kept hanging around, checking us out. The size of her was just incredible; every time she came back to the surface, my brain would refuse to process what I was seeing for a second. Like 'What IS that? Jesus, it's huge.' She was so calm and curious. For me, it was the first time that I had a clear understanding that there's some kind of intelligence going on in that brain, even if it's completely alien."
Sphere Of Stars
"I used to be in the Navy, and out in the middle of the ocean at night can be calming and odd at the same time."
"One night, I recall the sea was incredibly flat and calm, even out 1,000 miles from shore. The sky was clear and you could see every star in the sky. The really neat, creepy, and vertigo inducing thing was the stars reflected in the water and it looked like I was standing inside of a sphere of stars."
"It really was incredible but it actually made me a bit dizzy because of the rocking of the ship and the feeling of not really knowing which way was up."
"A dolphin swimming with a sponge in his mouth."
"The crew member I was with asked if I knew why the dolphin has a sponge in his mouth. I didn't know, of course. He said because dolphins have no hands."
"I was out sailing alone and a couple of huge ocean sunfish came up next to my boat. They are so derpy, but the size of those things up close is pretty shocking."
They're Magical And Some Are Dumba**es
"I've always sailed around Europe, so the first time I came into waters where flying fish are a thing was a trip. I thought I'd seen flying fish before but it turns out those were just jumping fish. Flying fish really do skim over the water really long distances! They're magical."
"And overnight some of the dumba**es end up on your deck and then die there. That's kinda sad."
"Was out boating one day and a harbour seal flops up onto my boat (which was moving at the time, albeit not particularly fast) and displays absolutely no interest in getting off. At first I thought he just didn't want to jump off a moving boat, so I slowed right down, but he still stayed put. Then I thought he was disoriented or something and I got down towards the stern to shoo him away."
"It was then that I noticed that I was being tailed by a pod of orcas, which was presumably the reason why my new guest had made himself at home on my boat. They encircled the boat and stayed there for ~30 minutes, which was both amazing (closest I'd ever been to an orca by far, nevermind a whole pod of them) and somewhat terrifying (the boat I was on was a 20 footer, so reasonably sized, but not so large that I liked my chances of not capsizing if the orcas decided they 'really' wanted their dinner)."
"They eventually lost interest and moved on; the seal hopped off and swam away in the other direction a few minutes later."
Well, I Otter...
"Left my sailboat anchored off the coast of Saturna island. Go visit friends, spend the night on land. Next day, on my way back, as I'm rowing and getting closer to my boat, I can swear there is a sound coming from my boat. Some sort of small commotion is happening. As I go up my ladder, in ninja mode, I'm trying to figure out wtf...I see 2 otters, laying in a bed of fish carcasses , f'king...on my deck. They haven't noticed me yet and so I do the polite thing and cough a bit. That was not the best idea as they freaked out when they saw me, starting panicking and insuring that the fish guts would get absolutely everywhere in my navigation tools and seats. There was no real damage but I'll never forget the sound of otters f'king."
"I wouldnt say strange, more just amazing and pretty rare. I saw the green flash one morning while on watch somewhere in the Mediterranean sea. Sea was smooth as glass, sky was gorgeous. I was on the bridge wing drinking my coffee and having a smoke just before sunrise and I happened to be looking at the right spot at the right time as the sun crested the horizon. The smallest brightest flash of green and then the sun started climbing."
Coolest And Most Surreal
"Algae blooms. North Red Sea in 2003. Pitch black night (no moon or cloud cover), except for a billion points of starlight reflecting in the ocean's obsidian. The sea was calm, no whitecaps or even any swells really. I was a Quartermaster in the US Navy and was standing the mid watch (0000-0400 and a Quartermaster or QM is a specialist in nautical navigation for those who aren't well versed in the Navy)."
"So we're transiting the Red Sea headed south toward the Bab-Al Mendeb straight, I'm on the bridge wing shooting stars, and all of a sudden the ocean starts exploding with bright green algae. Starts off in a ball the size of a basketball or volleyball, and very quickly blossomed out hundreds of feet on any direction. Our ship was 505' (154m) long and these blooms were easily encompassing the ship. Bright a** green circles of algae, glowing like you dropped a neon green highlighter under a black light. It happened towards the start of my watch and went on for at least two hours. All around us. Photo-plankton reacts to itself (maybe as a defense mechanism?) and it wasn't just in our wake, or in our immediate vicinity. It was for a couple hundred yards in any direction. To this day it was easily the coolest and most surreal things I've seen on the ocean."
"Other things include millions of dragonflies (Northern Arabian Gulf), a rescue at sea (Virginia coast known in the Navy as the VACAPES), giant manta rays breaching that I almost ran over in the Captian's Gig (Cuba), huge sea turtles at the surface (various places), clearest water I've ever seen (like 100' crystal clear vis, Souda Bay, Crete), and I'm sure a whole host of things I've forgotten. I miss the ocean."
Most of Earth is made up of water. Literally a vast majority of the planet is covered in a wet majesty. The oceans spread far and wide and there is still so much we don't know about what stories the water keeps, things we'll never know. Living and traveling on the tides can be an incredible experience, but it can also be like something out of movie thriller. There are many who live to tell quite a tale and many who have not. The water has it's ghosts as well.
Redditor u/Jarsquat wanted all the sailors out there to tell us a tale or two from their time exploring open waters by asking...
Sailors, what's the creepiest, scariest, or most unnerving thing you've seen/witnessed while at sea?
The Unknown Sounds.
I'm not a sailor but my family owns a boat and I frequently go out on fishing trips in the sea with my dad (it's usually more us talking about life with him doing most of the fishing).
Well, on one trip, we were out about I think ten miles from the beach. My dad was telling me about how he got into and won a bar fight and I was just silently listening when a weird whistling/howling sound sort of surrounded us.
I can't really describe it. It was like a cross between a wail and the sound of someone blowing air over an open bottle.
My dad looked pretty calm but I could tell he was freaked out too. It went on for about another minute, slowly becoming stronger, until it just abruptly ended with a screech from somewhere in the water.
We never talk about it and I still wonder what was making that sound. LockedPages
The Feeding Frenzy...Giphy
Not scary, just odd. but one time we were docked in Bermuda and somebody screwed up and dumped the galley waste into the harbor.
I have never seen so much marine life in one place. Every type of fish imaginable, turtles the whole whack, all on a feeding frenzy. It got so crazy that you couldn't really see water anymore for about 5m off the ship. Just a mass of crazy writhing fish. stuwoo
I was pulling a small sail boat mast from the bottom of a lake during a storm - waves had turtled the boat. So I was about ten feet down and pulling the mast up and the weight of it pushed me down so I was basically standing at the bottom of the lake and could see the waves up top. It was an overall weird/frightening/stimulating experience. And then something big swam past me and brushed my leg - must've been at least 3 feet long. I eventually got the boat turned back over and the mast on board and we got towed in. As we hit land I laid down on the beach and decided I wasn't going to go in the water for a couple days. FBIFreezeDontMove
The scariest is always finding unmarked half sunk boats. You have to check them to make sure there are no people or bodies and report them. Every time I pull up on one though the hair stands up on my body as I am hoping there are no bodies. So far so good but every time it unsettles me. whiskeyfordinner
This thing was a killer.
2 years ago I was about 150 miles offshore from long island NY, in a 31 foot boat. We were trolling for yellowfin tuna. In the distance we saw 2 hug fins coming out of the water so we headed towards them thinking it was a couple of sharks. As we got closer, we realized it was one big shark... there it was just cruising slowly at the surface, not even the slightest bit disturbed by us approaching.
Once we got up next to it we realized that this shark was almost as big as the boat. It had to be at least 25 feet long and several thousand pounds. I was in absolute shock as we passed it. I'd never seen a shark even close to that big. I've seen plenty of whales, turtles, dolphins, sharks, all kinds of crazy things out at sea. But never a predator this large. It was definitely not a whale shark. This thing was a killer.
I want to say that it was a tiger shark but the internet says they don't even get close to that big so I really just don't know. I wish I could have gotten a picture of it, but I was just frozen, I couldn't even move. I will never forget that moment. The ocean is an incredible place. Bred_Stix
3 Years Later.
I did a double-handed overnight race last summer and had a 45 minute conversation with my grandfather while on watch. I was the only one on deck and my grandfather had been dead for three years at that point. I'm fairly certain hypothermia, dehydration, low blood sugar, and exhaustion were all in play, but it was super weird. zwiiz2
One of my co-workers fled to the US from Vietnam in a small boat as a young child. (She was one of the Boat People.) We were complaining about little shit when she explained why she almost never got upset.
She was only 7 when this happened. She and her sister, father, mother and grandfather were in a small fishing boat in the middle of the ocean. They had been out of food for several days. She and her sister (5) managed to catch an albatross on the boat.
Her father said it was bad luck to kill one and released it. She said as she watched it fly away, she knew then that she and her family were going to starve to death. She hated her father at that point too.
The next day they were picked up by a trawler and taken to California. She still wears an albatross necklace for good luck. mel2mdl
The weirdest night of my life.....
Pacific ocean. Complete cloud cover and no waves, so the sky completely blended in with the sea. Four hours of lookout watch had me hearing my name called and struggling with some dissociation. The only way to get it to stop was think aloud and talk to myself, which freaked out the people inside the bridge.
The weirdest night of my life.
Edit: this was at night so everything was utterly black. The hairs on the back of my neck were perpetually up. Masterdarwin88
Law & Order: Maritime Edition....Giphy
When I was a kid I got really freaked out by this human hand that was floating in the harbor. It was just a rubber glove with trapped air. munkijunk
in my bones......
I was on the Enterprise (CVN65), and we sailed around South Africa toward Australia deep in the Southern Ocean. It was June and we went through a large winter storm that was rolling us all over and making the ship creak.
We had all the water-tights closed, including the hanger bay. The curtain doors for the elevators have smaller people sized doors in them. Snuck up to see the storm first hand. Go through the inner door (close it) and open the outer door in time to see a crazy big wave peaking as it is about to crash over the flight deck. Closed and dogged the door just as it hit. I could feel the impact in my bones. TimO4058
Off the Coast....Giphy
A mate of mine I was working on a Tuna boat with came across an airplane emergency life jacket floating in the water about 200miles out at sea, east coast of New Zealand. 1kz_akl1kz_akl
In the Sea of Cortez.....
My dad and I were sailing in the Sea of Cortez, it was early morning with some patchy surface fog. I was 14 or 15 at the time. We heard what sounded like applause in the distance, but becoming louder. We could soon see a patch of disturbed water getting closer and closer and hundreds of objects flying out of the water and splashing back down. A few of them flew out, hit the deck of the boat and bounced back into the water. Stingrays. A whole school of them, jumping out of the water for some reason. It was weird and awesome. Tyree_Callahan
a towering spike of death....
Giant spears plunging in and out of the sea lol.
In the gulf of Alaska, I have seen some crap. But one of the most terror inspiring things I've seen are what can happen with some of the loose logs from the logging trade.
Sometimes when a big log gets loose from a raft, it becomes partially waterlogged and floats small end up. So you have this 4 foot diameter telephone pole in the sea, sticking up 40 feet into the air. No biggie. Shows up on radar, and easy to spot.
Now, giv le that pole 20 years of floating around or so. It rots in such a way that it becomes filed to a point by wind and waves, and looks quite menacing.
Now, put it in a gale with 25 foot waves (50 feet trough to peak)
.... And it becomes a towering spike of death that shoots up from the sea every 15 to 20 minutes, out of nowhere, 60 feet into the air, only to plunge down into the dark depths waiting to skewer some unsuspecting boat in a few minutes when it thrusts out of the ocean again.
It is a genuine terrifying sight, rare, but not so rare that I haven't seen 2 in one season. It's like the spiked tip of neptune looking for an opportunity to mess your stuff up in a particularly terrifying way. bidet_enthusiast
I worked on tug boats for about 6 years. The back deck is considered a "wet deck" meaning it isn't unusual for it to be under water at times. We were making tow with an oil rig at sea with waves that were 14-16' and one hit us just right, taking my coworker George and pulling him out to sea. Now it's 3am and pitch black.
This is nearly always a death sentence. About 20 seconds later (which felt like an eternity) another wave brought George back on deck, plopping him safely on his butt right next to the winch. George laughed and got right back to work without missing a beat.
Edit: I'm mostly a lurker on here, didn't think this would take off the way it did.
Thanks for the silvers! Let me know if you wanted to hear some more sea stories. I've got some about drunk people getting on our boat, a small boat filled with half crocked pirates trying to get on our barge and a bonus story of one of the times I almost drowned in the rudder room. daniel1310
A couple of years ago I was sailing as a cadet on a merchant vessel and I was scheduled on the evening watch. The rest of the crew was enjoying dinner and I was to call if anything went wrong. We were sailing over open ocean, no land within a day sailing around us and all of a sudden I notice a island coming up on my bow. It was still far away but it shouldn't be there. I looked at the maps, checked my position multiple times and then I noticed the island did not appear on my radars. I called down to the messroom to tell there was a weird island in front of us.
The chief mate came up and checked again the maps and positions. He also noticed that the radars did not see the island. We called the captain and when he came up he started laughing. He was a old sailor with over 40 years of experience under his belt. He explained us it was a fata Morgana. The real island was more than a day sailing away in the direction we were heading at that moment. After that incident he took over the watch and I went down. It wasn't really creepy but it was strange. chief970
Not a sailor; however this was at sea... My dad went boating with some friends down near Rocky Point in Mexico in the mid-90s. They went out late at night to drink. It was incredibly dark apart from the boat lights when suddenly a helicopter flew above their boat and the local who took them out shut everything off immediately. The helicopter hovered over some water in the distance and dumped a few bodies into the water before flying off. When it was out of sight the local turned everything back on and shrugged it off saying, "they do that all the time, never seen it so close up before." Sleepyfalcon9
Not a sailor, but a marine on a ship. We were cruising through the pacific when we received an SOS from a boat (from what I heard he was trying to cross the ocean by himself). Took a few days to find him.
I remember watching off the side of the ship. The sails were imprinted with the Chinese flag. a small team was sent to board the small sail boat.
But when they arrived no one was one board. We searched for a body for the following days but found nothing. Still don't know what happened to him.
Edited to post a link. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/27/us-coast-guard-suspends-search-guo-chuan-chinese-sailor-lost-mid-pacificBigironjoe117
The Calm Before.....
Worked the shrimp boats in the Gulf back in the '70s. 100 miles off the coast of Louisiana and the sea got dead calm. I mean dead calm, not a ripple or a swell. The sea was so calm that vibrations from the engine idling would make little ripples in the water. The surface of the sea looked like a huge never ending mirror extending out in all directions. The visual memory I have of seeing that perfectly flat sea in the moonlight is deeply etched in my memory and I can see it today in my mind just as real as if it was happening now.
I could talk about 25 foot seas in the middle of a hurricane, or a half dozen water spouts dancing around us during a summer squall, or sargassum seaweed as far as the eye could see so thick around the boat that you could walk on it, or flying fish all taking flight at the same time like a flock of birds skimming across the water. but none of that stuff had the impact on me like the dead calm of the sea 100 miles offshore. oops77542
On a navy ship, we were out on patrol and took a massive lightning bolt to the aft mast at the same time as the wind picked up significantly. We started listing quite heavily and the thunder made it sound like we hit something. Most of us got really fired up and immediately ran below the waterline to do damage assessment, one guy ran to the bridge to check out what had happened. Luckily it was only lightning and not something we'd hit, but it really felt like we had.
Apart from fire alarms I've never been so ready to do damage control in my life! Crossroots
When I was about 19, maybe 20, my mom's boyfriend at the time decided to take us out on his boat one afternoon so that we could lounge around and swim in the ocean far from the shore. We were super excited because the water was turquoise, completely see through and the perfect temperature that day. So we found what seemed to be the perfect location, dropped the anchor and had a snack.
Before long, we were completely surrounded by hundreds of giant milky white jellyfish. There were so many that we couldn't see clear water anywhere around us. Their bells were easily 5 feet in diameter, if not more. We did not swim that day. kinkyp3ach