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Often, thoughts of life sailing large ships across the high seas feel like distant fantasies.


We encounter those scenes in novels, high budget films, old myths, and video games.

But we cannot forget that there are so many people across the world that earn their living working as a crew member on a large ship that crosses vast distances of open water.

The consumer products we buy and the food we eat is so often only at our door thanks to the hard work of freighters around the world.

And, as one recent Reddit thread illustrated, each of those ships has a crew full of people with stories to tell.

The unique conditions of exhausting, difficult life far from land can't help but make for some very eerie occurrences, whether they be real or imagined.

HijoDelSombreron asked, "Sailors, seamen and overall people who spend a vast amount of time in the ocean. Have you ever witnessed something you would catalog as supernatural or unusual? What was it like?"

Some people discussed the times they truly felt that they'd come into contact with a haunted, supernatural being. There simply was no other way to explain a horrifying feeling they got out of nowhere.

Saving Spirit

"Sailed on tallships for a good while, among other things."

"Saw some green flashes, a moon bow, lots of phosphorescence, big whales, st elmo's fire on our mast (steel ship this time)."

"But the only creepy story was at port. The only person who had ever died on the ship was over a hundred years ago, and he fell from the rigging. Went splat. One of the crew was up furling sails, and was about to step out onto the foot rope that runs along the yard. He said he got an overwhelming urge to not step on it, and felt a tug on his harness keeping him from stepping out."

"He was so freaked out he kept the other two guys behind him from getting on the line as well. The other guys started getting a really bad feeling too, and they decided to check out the footrope. It had been really degrading on the inside, even through the outside looked mostly fine."

"The line probably would have snapped as they climbed out there, and they would have fallen, as you are pretty much free climbing until you get to a stopping point."

-- ToTheSeaAgain

A Heaviness

"When I was roving patrol on a submarine I always thought I saw someone walking parallel to me down missile compartment upper level. If I was on the port side then I saw them on the starboard side and vice-versa. I always chalked it up to pipes and valves creating weird shadows. Additionally, it felt 'heavy' on that level like there was some sort of presence - the feeling you get when someone's watching you."

"I never told anyone, then one day a few weeks into patrol, one of the other rovers asked me if it felt 'weird' up there. He specifically said that he saw someone up there too just like I had. We shared stories and then talked to the third rover and he said 'I only go up there to do my rounds every hour then get the fu** out of that haunted level.' "

-- praxis4

Other people shared similar experiences, but often chalked it all up to the work of their own brains. Life on the open ocean is apparently very conducive to hallucinating.

Who's Out There

"In the Gulf of Aden having been at sea for a while and with absolutely blistering heat, I heard my nickname called 3 times. Clearly and loudly. It was my first time with this particular crew and none of them knew my nickname."

"My best guess is dehydration and stress but I'll never forget it."

-- imarriedanarcissist

Was Someone Left?

"Distress flares in the middle of the Indian Ocean sailing Nigeria-Japan at night when I was a Third Mate. Looked less than 4 miles away. Altered course to it, called the Old Man. Found nothing and no one over the course of two hours. I was the only one to see it, and I know what I saw. (My watchman was down closing cabin shades.)"

"I understand why we had to move on. Keeps me up some nights though. Did we come so close to saving someone's life, and just leave them there? Alone in the ocean. No food or water. Did someone think they were rescued but we ended up too far from them? Should we have waited until daytime? Did I just hallucinate?"

-- RoCNOD

Group Hallucination

"On my first deployment to south east Asia I was flying over the Sea of Japan and saw a large pulsing aura of red light far enough below the surface I could not make out a source. We were 30ish miles from shore and had not been briefed on any assets in the area that might make something like that make sense. No erroneous indications on instruments or radio chatter."

"Just slow steady pulsing red light. We saw it, circled it a few times, made a note of the time and location we encountered it and my crew chief asked if I wouldn't mind getting the hell out of there. So we finished our transit and I made a note of everything in my debrief. I passed it up the chain of command but they basically wrote it off as some sort of visual phenomenon we had from a long day of flying in dry suits. It's always been hard to imagine our entire crew hallucinating the same thing."

-- sanesteve2020

Night Duty

"I was a sailor in the navy. While I was on lookout duty on the bridge at night, a dude walked and stood beside me, breathing hard. I was looking out at sea and I was blocking the stairs going down, so I turned around to whisper 'sorry,' and what do you know, there's no one. I was tired so I chalked this up to hallucination, but it felt real."

-- wolf-bot

Others discussed experiences driven by the very real, believable aspects of the ocean's whims and all the air does out there.

Sometimes, the natural world can terrify us--while it calms us too.

Sudden Stop

"The closest to supernatural or at least something I can't explain, happened half way between Cornwall and the Scillies. We were sailing in a fresh breeze, 5-6 ft. swells maybe. That's perfectly fine sailing weather but the boat will rock and there will be quite a bit of noise from the wind, the sails and waves."

"So we sail happy along when suddenly the sea is perfectly flat and every thing is quiet, like somebody turned the sound off. I look around and the water is pitch dark. It only lasted for a minute and then everything was back to normal but I got a really eerie feeling."

-- SicarioCercops

Interrupted Glass

"The ocean water was so still, it appeared that we were sailing on glass; not one ripple. I have never seen this again." -- TheLatty

"Experienced the same while traversing Makassar strait going to Surabaya, Indonesia."

"It was like sailing through a lake and the only ripple you can see was from the wake of the ship. Wished all the of the seas were the same haha." -- Gunner000

Pin Drop Tension

"Spent a lot of time sailing commercially in the Irish Sea, on night watch you are always acutely aware of everything around you due to the silence and darkness. Some of the sounds you hear are deeply unsettling."

"I remember on a perfectly still night just hearing a gentle knocking noise coming from what seemed like the outside of the hull at the waterline. No idea what it was but it freaked me out all shift."

-- Brockers55

Blurring Horizon

"I was standing in the hangar bay waiting for morning muster at dawn somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Looking out at the ocean, I was intrigued by how smooth as glass the water was reflecting the clouds in the sky. Then the most beautiful, confusing, mesmerizing, and terrifying thing I ever saw happened. The water, for a moment, was so smooth that the horizon disappeared from view."

"The water was so smooth and reflective that it was impossible to tell where the water ended and the sky began. I honestly got dizzy knowing I was in the middle of the ocean floating on water, but my eyes were trying to convince me the ship was floating on nothing. Then the water started slightly rippling and the horizon was visible again. Every morning at sea after that I looked at the horizon hoping it would happen again, but it never did. I've never found out what caused this scientifically. The closest thing I could ever find was it was some sort of variant of the fata morgana mirage."

"I don't think I will ever see anything as beautiful in my life ever again. Words fall extremely short at describing the feeling in that moment."

-- rosso222


So if you were ever thinking about signing up for an extended period of time sailing on the open water, make sure you're prepared to encounter some or all of these bizarre events.

You never know what might happen when you're out there.

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