The ocean holds a special place in human hearts. It is a completely inhospitable environment, yet we are drawn to it. 71% of our planet is covered in water, so it’s not crazy to say that human life is explicitly linked to the ocean. From transportation, relaxation, and food, we spend so much of our lives in and around water it can become mundane.
That is, until you are in the middle of the ocean, with no one around, and it’s dark.
It can be a scary feeling knowing the only thing standing between you and certain death is the boat you came here on, and any number of things could cause you to become “lost at sea”. So, with that in mind, we asked people who had spent lost of time on the water what some of the wildest stories they had and picked out a few of the best ones to share with you.
Saw a bright light once at the edge of the horizon at sea level that was moving very slowly that I assumed was a ship. It suddenly moved across almost my entire field of view in just a couple seconds. Way too fast for ship. Could be a jet plane flying near sea level that went from barely moving to maximum acceleration I suppose, but why?
29. Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you
The creepiest thing for me is when you’re out there in the ocean, in the water, and you look down. There’s nothing below you, maybe for miles. Just a black abyss, and then you’re brain starts to play with you.
You start to see things in the abyss and I’m not talking mermaids or friendly seals. You start to see large monsters down there, sharks as big as your boat, man-eating whales, whatever. Of course, you know none of it is real, but…
28. The water is also breathtaking, but that’s a downside
The actual dark. It is pitch black out in the middle of the ocean. That can be quite unnerving. On the upside on cloudless nights, the night sky is breathtaking.
27. Give the whale something to sing about
50-odd miles offshore on a sailboat, pitch black. Suddenly we hear a loud “CRACK” and the boat shifts an inch to port. Then silence for twenty minutes followed by another loud “THUMP” and boat shudder. Made our way quickly back to the coast. In dry dock, there was a 2-foot diameter dent in the hull.
I’m guessing we hit a sleeping whale.
26. Overboard in the dark? No thank you
We had a man overboard at 2am, 8 days into a 21-day sail from the Galapagos to Polynesia. Really heavy weather and couldn’t snuff out parasail and someone came forward without being clipped on and got knocked overboard. Took us about 25 minutes to get them back onboard and 3 hours to sort out the lines etc.
In terms of encounters, huge groups of luminous jellyfish are pretty weird to see at night. Curious whales/dolphins are really cool.
Probably the sketchiest is coming close to container ships during the night, those things don’t change course unless it’s essential.
25. Was that a UFO? Sounds like a UFO
I was on a tanker somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Graveyard watch, fairly good weather, good visibility. I notice a lighthouse light ahead of me, looks far but it is very distinct, flashes rhythmically, quite bright. I check the Radar, nothing. I check the chart nothing for at least 400 miles. I continue to observe until it just stops abruptly. Freaked me out a bit.
24. Nobody expects the Spanish Finquisition!
Out at sea at night no moon, pitch black. I’m talking just having a good time with a shipmate and out of nowhere whap!!!! The loudest slap I have ever heard. My buddy literally screams.
A flying fish, right in the face. That was 40 years ago. I’m still laughing.
23. That’s no moon
Coming through a part of the Mediterranean with a lot of oil platforms, at night, I was conn, one of the other ensigns was JOOD, and our Navigator was OOD. Nav ducked into the chartroom, so it was just me and the JOOD when we saw what looked like another oil platform on the horizon. Only it wasn’t showing up on either of our radars, it wasn’t on the chart, and the laser rangefinder wasn’t working.
So the two of us are watching this thing get closer and closer, and we were about to call the captain up to the bridge (JOOD had just picked up the phone) when Nav walks back into the pilothouse, takes one look at the two of us freaking out and goes “…you guys know that’s the moon, right?”
The quartermasters left that one out of the deck log.
22. Good thing it was Shark Week
While guiding a night dive once, we had a massive female seven-gill shark follow us for the whole dive, just occasionally coming into our visibility before darting off. She was probably just curious about our lights or maybe using them to hunt but it was just really unnerving to know she was around but unable to see her.
That being said, I love sharks, and she did us no harm. They’re usually super chill and not to be feared. But you can’t help but respect any predator bigger than you are while it follows you around in the dark.
21. It was a ghost ship!
I used to have a summer job working on a Ferry (a small barge tug that pulls a platform for moving cars and trucks across bodies of water) and I was 3 hours from my home and was staying with my grandfather, but on days I had to work really early the captain would let me sleep in the break room on the boat.
I woke up one night on the boat to a bright light coming through and thought it was a barge spotlighting the edge of the river, but after a minute or two it was still there and started blowing a deep horn and I jumped off the couch I turned into a makeshift bed and ran out to see what was happening.
I didn’t see anything and when to the radio and tried to radio nearby vessels and the closest thing to me was a barge 10 miles down the river and I didn’t see any smaller boats (fishing, flat bottoms, or pontoon sized boats) on the water. It made local news and 2 years later we still have no answer to what it was.
20. The ocean is a pretty big place, easy to get lost
If the water is warm enough to not freeze to death, there will be sharks.
I’m a sailor and once did a man overboard drill. Instead of a man or puppet, we threw a jerrycan that was painted bright orange. We went around completely, but halfway through the maneuver, we lost sight of the jerrycan. When we got closer to the position where we dropped it, finally someone found it and we fished it out of the water. This was in the tropics, with no wind, clear sky, middle of the day. Perfect circumstances. And we could barely find a bright orange drum that was bigger than a hat. Now think of the fact that a head is a lot smaller than a drum and a lot better camouflaged. Also, we knew the exact time and position where we dropped it. So imagine going missing at the end of the day. The ship might have traveled 200 nautical miles since you went overboard. The exact location isn’t known and you are difficult to spot as it is.
Long story short. Don’t go overboard at sea.
19. Must’ve been a fan of Down Periscope
October 1986, early morning (0730), steaming on the rhumb line from the Cape Cod Canal to Mt. Desert Rock, skirting Matinicus.
It was dungeon thick’a fog; visibility about 200 yards. No radar so we were steaming along at 5 knots.
All of a sudden my depth sounder showed a shoal below is at 140 feet. We were in 600+ plus foot depth water according to the charts. I’m in a panic in the wheelhouse trying to figure out how we could be so far off course to be in 140′ water. This was BEFORE GPS!!! We were getting satnav fixes every thirty minutes.
About two minutes later, the sounds of hovering helicopters were on both sides of us. (Vietnam vet, Marine Corps, Air Wing, I know what a chopper at low altitude sound like!)
After a few minutes, the choppers lifted and went forward of us. My depth sounder had returned to 600+ depth.
I am standing in the wheelhouse scratching my head, trying to figure out what was going on when the fog lifted. Ahead of us was a Carrier Battle Group, BIG carrier, lots of auxiliary ships, choppers everywhere. Sonobuoys in the water all around us.
We were in the middle of a Carrier Battle Group doing exercises and an attack sub had just used us as a decoy to try to attack.
18. What a way to go
The scariest thing that ever happened to me was in port. I was a sailor on the USS Carr. Stationed in Norfolk. There was a shipmate who had gotten himself in trouble and was being kicked out of the Navy. He was not allowed to leave the ship.
I saw him on Friday carrying weights out of the ship’s gym, odd but I didn’t pay much mind, I had to come in for duty the next day and he had vanished overnight. We searched the entire ship from top to bottom three times over. No sign of him.
We found out later he tied the weight from the gym to his feet and jumped overboard the night before. He washed up three weeks later when his corpse detached from the weight and floated to the surface.
17. Death is whimsical today
So I’m a US Navy guy. We were somewhere in the Pacific and it was warm so I am assuming the Indian ocean, this was circa 2004. I worked nights and it’s supersizing how quiet an aircraft carrier can be at night.
On this night there were no flight operations and about 80% of the crew is asleep, no one even thinking about flying around. The sea wasn’t too rough that day, however, I do remember the sound of the random thuds of slightly larger waves. So, at about 1 am we decide to cut through the hanger bay to lunch. There were two guys in-front of us. I could see them moving in back and forth in an “s” type pattern meaning the ship was rolling gently port to starboard (left to right). As the two guys in front of me “S” snaked toward the open aircraft elevator door (side door about 50x40ft).
I could see the top of a wave coming right at us. That wave had just decided to join us in the hanger bay. The bottom of the wave hit with that vibrating thud, the top of the wave sheered off and rolled right into the hanger bay. Knocking over the two guys and as it turned from a wave into a puddle, the wave decided to return to the ocean sucking the two guys out toward the dark ocean.
Fortunately, one sailor stopped short and the other managed to grab on to the post and wire that loosely guard the elevator door opening.
That was 100% sketch!
16. You really should have better lights for your own safety
Waters near the Philippines, quiet watch, few fishing boats in the area. Suddenly I notice a very faint light dead ahead of me, looks very very far, nothing on radar can barely see it. I thought I have some time until it shows up on Radar but something was telling me to alter course to starboard. So I did and 1 minute after the alteration I was passing a tiny fishing boat by about 200m with one guy with a weak torch on board. If I didn’t act on my instinct I would have run him over.
15. I just want to point out that the first USS Reuben James sunk on Halloween in 1941, and 100 men died
I was onboard the USS Rueben James in 2012. I was standing watch in combat and decided to take a smoke break on the starboard side windbreak at 3 am. It was cloudy so almost pitch black. I had gone down at this time on many occasions and there are usually 1 or 2 other people up that late going out for a smoke break.
When I got out there I could see nothing but the cherry of someone else’s cig. I face outward and leaned on the break and lit my camel gold and asked how his night was going, having no idea who I was speaking to but figuring I would find out when I heard his voice/description of his night.
I got no response. I turned around to see if he had heard me and with my eyes adjusted I would have been able to make him out leaning against the steel wall. As I turned around the moon cracked out from the clouds and slightly illuminated the small confined area I was in and the only 2 directions anyone could have walked away. There was no one there. I was alone.
I had seen the exhale of smoke from someone on that windbreak but no one was there and no one could have left the smoke deck without my hearing or seeing them. I don’t believe in ghosts or the afterlife or any of that nonsense but needless to say, I didn’t stick around outside for long.
14. Bear-y exciting
While Fishing in Alaska, after a late opening we didn’t have enough time to deliver our catch before the tide changed and had to let the boat go dry on the bottom until the next tide brought back enough water so we could get to the offload.
We went to bed around 2 am and woke up to the boat rustling about at about 3:30 am. The tide wasn’t due back that soon so we knew it wasn’t the water. We slowly crawled up and looked out the back door to find a full-grown bear on the back deck. The bear had already thrown a 40-50 lb deck plate off the boat onto the sand and was eating out of one of our fish holds.
With the boat only being 32’ you can imagine the bear took up about 1/2 – 3/4 of the entire fish deck. Luckily we were safe in the steel boat but never the less it was a very close encounter.
A different season during a very low tide our captain ran straight into the top of a reef and set the boat sideways and sinking. We had to escape overboard and be rescued by the coast guard. Luckily we saved the boat, got hauled out and we’re back finishing the same day.
As fun as Alaskan Fishing is there are plenty of moments like this every season.
13. Makes me glad I work from home
Working on a longliner fishing for Pacific Cod roughly 220 Nautical Miles north of St. Paul Island and I was the bait boy. And I mainly worked aft mid deck in the gear room, where we set all of our gear out. There was an incinerator top deck aft where we would burn all of our trash and the big sodium lights had burned out that usually illuminated the entire aft deck. Well, the processors who work mid deck in the factory had been cleaning and brought a bunch of garbage bags up to me. Since I work bait and I’m closest to the incinerator it was my job to always climb the ladder top deck and put the trash into the incinerator and burn it. It was about 3:30 AM in the morning and it was pitch black outside, I mean so dark you can’t see your hand an inch away from your face. But I had worked on the boat for a while and I pretty much knew aft top deck blindfolded so I decided to climb the ladder with the garbage bags and throw em into the incinerator, so the guy who relieved me would only have to start the incinerator up when he started his shift.
It was typical bearing sea weather meaning the boat is rolling pretty heavily and the occasional wave will break over the top deck. But it wasn’t a nasty storm or anything so I decided to take the trash up before I got off shift. I climb the ladder to aft top deck with the garbage bags and stand up. The incinerator is roughly 50 ft from the aft deck ladder, I start to walk towards the incinerator and opened up the latches, throw the trash inside, and latched her back up. As I’m climbing back down that aft ladder to the gear room I get about two rungs down the ladder with my waist below top deck and my chest above the top deck. A nice size wave breaks over port side top deck and engulfs all of aft top deck in water. (Mind you from water level to top deck is about 35ft). I couldn’t even see the water it was so dark, I just heard the noise of it. It sounded like I was standing at the foot of a huge waterfall.
I get showered in sea water and am soaking wet, the water was so cold it felt like I had stuck my head into the incinerator while it was burning trash. Literally felt like someone poured gasoline on my head and lit it on fire. Stinging needles all over my face and chest. My skin immediately turned bright red. The force of the water smacked my head against the side of the access hole. I was holding onto the ladder with every inch of strength I had and I still fell about 4 ft down into the gear room.
The worst part about the whole situation looking back at it now is we had just hauled both of our strings of gear that we set. All the gear was onboard because the captain was steaming us to another fishing spot about 35 miles from where we had set our last strings. So all of the deckhands were catching the little bit of sleep they could get, in their bunks before we had to set our gear again. I was alone in the gear room and alone on the top deck. If I had decided to take that trash out just 60 seconds later I probably would have gone overboard starboard top deck into that black void of frozen fire. And nobody would have known I was gone for at least 3 to 4 hours. That water is so freezing that I would have been hypothermic in 10 minutes flat. With the rolling waves, they never would of found me.
The thing I kept thinking about was the coast guard knocking on my mom’s door and telling my mom that she won’t be able to bury me because I was lost at sea. It just made me really sad to think about that. I’m not one to believe in higher powers, and I’m not super spiritual. But that moment I really felt like something was watching over me.
Needless to say, it was a good reality check for me that I’m working one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. And I need to think about literally everything I do and think it over twice or three times before I actually decide to do it. No matter how small and meaningless it might be, such as taking the trash out. When you are on the bearing sea every single thing you do could be your last.
Image by Bruce Bouley from Pixabay
12. The old “I accidentally ‘rescued’ a murder” story
I was on a small fishing boat last summer in Alaska (Seining for anyone curious), and we were heading to a new spot so we could wait for the shootout (the day when fishing opens and everyone sets their nets). While we were on our way there, it was my turn for wheel watch. I was watching ahead and the deck boss was watching tv behind me. I heard static from the radio and it was the coast guard calling to other ships in the area alerting them of 2 missing skiffs (smaller power boat) in the area and asking people to keep an eye out.
We were all kind of interested so we were looking out not expecting to find anything however remaining somewhat hopeful, as we were close to the area they were thought to be near. We all took turns with the binoculars but as night set in we started to get bored. I started to walk down to the kitchen where I had to go down a ladder that had a window next to it (near 360 view, we were in the wheelhouse, lots of windows) and I caught a glimpse of something red, I asked the deck boss who was next to the ladder looking out, and he looked through the binoculars to see 2 boats beached on the coast beside us.
We hail the coast guard and honk our air horn (3 mile audibility radius) to try to alert them that we are coming for them. Once we get close enough we detach our power-skiff and our skiff-man starts going out to bring 1 man from the beach, along with 2 smaller, single occupant skiffs. He returns and we wait for the coast guard to come and pick up the man. We talked with him for a bit, and he told us he was out here with a family member fishing when one of the engines died. He tethered him to his boat but because he was pulling another boat, he ran out of gas much quicker or encountered some other engine problem.
He said that his relative went to follow the coastline to look for help which was weird. I’m not from Alaska, however, I still found it odd that someone who is would go explore an island alone, in an area teeming with wildlife (not the friendly kind). Also, we blew the air horn with that has a 3-mile audible distance and no one returned for the almost hour we were there. the coast guard came and picked him up and we started on our way, the deck boss and the skiff man also had the same thought that the whole situation was really weird. The theory we went with is that he went fishing intending to come back alone for some reason or another. I never heard what happened after that, but it was definitely a tense situation while it was going on.
11. This guy sounds like a Scooby Doo villain
It was early October on a lake in NH. My uncle had a brand new boat and offered to take us all across the lake to a bar. It was my aunt and uncle, myself and two friends of mine. It’s about a half hour boat ride between the bar and home.
We go – have a great time – start to head home about midnight. My uncle grew up on this lake – knows it like the back of his hand. But he also doesn’t always make good choices. We realized we were all going to suffer from uncle’s bad choice syndrome when about five minutes into the ride home, fog rolled in – bad fog. I can barely see the bow of the boat. And uncle had neglected to move all his equipment from his old boat to the new boat. So – no depth finder, no radio, nothing that would have helped us get home. Having no choice, we tied up to the last buoy we found and prepared to spend the night. Friends and aunt go below and there was no room for anyone else so uncle and I used the boat tarps as blankets and lay down on the bench seats and back of the boat.
I doze off and wake up to see this old guy, wearing a yellow rain slicker and rowing a small rowboat approaching us out of the fog. It’s like 3 am at this point and we’re in the middle of this huge lake – not close to shore at all. Where has this guy come from? I swear all that was missing was a hook for a hand. I shake my uncle awake and at this point, the guy is like 10 feet away. Uncle calls out – no response. Now the guy is grabbing for the boat. He finally says hello. We say hello. My uncle asks him what he’s doing and after a very long pause, the guy says he’s practicing his nighttime fog navigation. My uncle asks him where we are on the lake – long pause – the guy says he has no idea. Then he lets go of our boat and slowly rowed away.
I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night.
10. Can’t fall off the ship if you are inside the ship
While I was on 31st MEU, one night at like 0100, I walked down the starboard outside gangway that runs from the Marine maintenance shops, to the gym on the starboard side. It’s about 150’ feet long, and since we were in blackout conditions, it was pitch black outside.
About 2/3 the way down, there was this “Cwhiz” part of the defense system, that sticks out off the gangway so the hand rope cuts out through there.
As soon as I let go of the rope to grab the wall on the opposite side, the ship, which was in otherwise calm, flat water, decided to suddenly drop 10’ as if it ran across another ships wake.
As I struggled to hold on, I swear I could feel something pulling me, almost as the ship suddenly rocked 45 degrees and I was getting shaken off like water on a dog.
Once it recovered, and I got my footing, it was back to flat, calm water. I blindly scrambled as fast as I could to the end, got inside and no one knew what bump I was talking about.
Mind you this is a several hundred-ton warship and home to thousands. If there was chop; we’d know.
Nevertheless, I took the interior passages after that.
9. Sounds like it’s a Pass/Fail class
I’m a graduate of a four year International Rescue and Relief program. Part of the program was an international semester in a developing country and a two-week survival course in Jungle, Coast, and Open Water. We were in Nicaragua/Honduras along the Rio Coco River and moved onto the small islands for the survival training. The jungle and coastal portions sucked but nothing compared to open water.
Five of us were anchored 100 meters off the coast of Corn Island right in the surf line for a few days/nights in a 10′ open top dugout boat. By this point in the course, we all were really weak and had lost weight. The sun and constant buffeting of the waves wore us down. We used a tarp to collect rainwater and had pieces of bamboo/surgical tubing for Hawaiian Slings. Every time someone had to vomit we collected it and used it to chum the water around the boat to attract fish. We took turns jumping off the side and trying to spear food but we sucked at it. But night two the storm showed up…and so did the sharks.
The wind and waves picked up enough to make us concerned the boat would capsize at any moment. We started feeling a knocking against the boats haul and began seeing fins right as the sun went down. Some sharks bump and would thrash/fight each other. The boat line was anchored about ten feet down to a concrete footing with a metal cable. Needless to say, we became concerned and began questioning our life choices. Two members wanted to jump ship and try to undo the boat and paddle back to shore. However, we noticed the boat had turned in the direction, so the tide was flowing away from land. We could fight the current but we were so exhausted it would be a gamble. Getting pulled out further from land with no communication, and after already starving for two weeks would not be ideal.
We decided to stay the night. The storm moved off but every time a lightning strike would go off we could see the fins. It seemed like more and more showed up every hour, and we felt more and more bumps to the boat. We made it through the night and our instructor came out to get us. Turned out he heard the locals talking over breakfast about a 50+ group of Hammerheads moving through our area over the night.
As he pulled up alongside us and was staring at our gaunt faces a 14 foot Hammerhead swam up and tapped his boat… we ended the course there and he bought us lunch. I don’t swim anymore.
I was night surfing on an overcast evening where the moonlight would fade in and out so you would go from periods of pretty good visibility to stretches of darkness when the cloud cover moved.
There was a lull in between sets so the sea was relatively calm and quiet when out of nowhere there was a huge splash and the noise of displaced water. If the gods had thrown a boulder into the sea it’s what I imagine it would sound like. I was not expecting anything like that and I completely lost my cool for a split second. Of course, the waves started back up then obscuring any chance I had to hear anything further. Telling myself to remain calm and slowly paddle back to shore took every bit of effort I had. I’m sure any animal within a mile could hear my heart pounding.
Made it in without incident and sat on the beach for a while listening and looking. There was no other sounds or sight of whatever it could have been. Later I tried to research it and my best guess is that it was a right whale breaching as they migrate through our area during that time of year though they are rare so I will never know for sure.
7. Sleeping on the job are we?
I was heading west on at Atlantic crossing one time.
Coming through the straight of Gibraltar one night, I was on bridge watch with one other guy.
We have to closely monitor our Radars in heavy shipping lanes like that.
With radar, it constantly tracks targets and what not and calculates your CPA (basically if you and the other ship maintain the same track how close your ships will get while passing)
I want to say we follow a one-mile minimum CPA if my memory serves correctly.
Well. These guys on a transport ship, (I will refer to them as T/V Sleepy from here out I will refer to my Ship as M/Y LargeAqua) are about 20ish miles out when we pick them up on Xband, and begin tracking the target.
Well, CPA is about 2 miles, so, cool. We’re good.
We had previously picked up another target, another transport vessel. We squeeze the ship and turn to open up one CPA and close the CPA to T/V sleepy. Fully expecting them to make a turn because they are essentially on a collision course with other ships behind us.
Now we steam around 11kts so we’ve got some time, but we have a large T/V sleepy closing in at around 20kts.
If you know anything about ships, nothing happens quickly until you need it to. Turning takes a long time, stopping takes a long time.
I can’t close CPA to the other Transport any more than I already had, because it changed course. And was moving faster, much larger, fair enough we adjusted course, larger ship has the right of way.
We then begin hailing T/V sleepy on coms.
“T/V sleepy, T/V Sleepy, this is M/Y LargeAqua, M/Y LargeAqua”
About a minute later, again
“T/V sleepy, T/V Sleepy, M/Y Largeaqua, please acknowledge.”
Well, CPA is closing now, they’re freaking turning, into our track. Dope.
“T/V Sleepy, Large Aqua, acknowledge.”
“T/V sleepy, M/Y Large Aqua, our CPA is now within 1/4 mile, please acknowledge.”
I look at the guy I’m on watch with, “you think we should wake cap?”
“No need, we’ll be fine, I’m sure they’re on a shift change or something,” he says.
“Buddy I think these guys are sleeping”
I pick up the radio and hail port authority
“Port authority, M/Y LargeAqua here, I’m not sure if something is wrong with coms but T/V sleepy won’t respond”
Port authority calls back.
“M/Y LargeAqua, acknowledged, we will attempt to hail them.”
They begin the same thing, getting more and more frustrated. Eventually, they are screaming at them over coms to respond or they’ll be halted and boarded.
They finally come back on coms, “Port authority, we hear you, sorry about that we had radio issues”
the ship starts turning, CPA opening
I call them on radio, “T/V sleepy, M/Y LargeAqua, welcome back! thanks for adjusting track, I hope you had a nice nap. LargeAqua out.”
Our CPA Ended up being about 550Meters
T/V Sleepy was a 500M container ship.
Not even a full shiplength. Nice.
They got boarded about 15 minutes later.
6. Bio-luminescence is really cool
US Navy, Petty Officer in charge of Low visibility watch. Watch that is called when you are in the middle of the ocean and there is so much fog you can’t far from the ship. Watches are stationed in different places on a ship, to listen, watch and record any activity. It is to make sure no one sneaks up or we don’t run into another ship or boat.
Anyway, I had just made my rounds and making sure everyone was in place and awake because it was middle of the night and pitch black. I was just about to check in with the bridge watch and I get a call over the radio from 2 different watch stations. They reported movement in the water but was unable to see what it was, it sounded like something cutting through the water very fast. I called for the watch officer and I was already at the bridge so I reported it and went to investigate one station while the officer went and checked the other.
With us posting at each, we both heard it, but could not see anything. The fog was so dense you couldn’t see the water line. Two different stations hearing the same thing. (LHA is not a small ship).
We were all tense. We were thinking the worst. Just then a break in the fog reveals that there are huge fish swimming around us feeding on the algae. The algae were luminous and as the fish would swim through, it looked like hundreds of shooting stars in the water. It was beautiful! Even these words can’t describe the beauty.
So my report read that it was a huge school of fish. The only people to whiteness it was the people on the watch.
5. We are always watching
This happened in 1986, my wife and I was two days out of the Azores headed to Newport, RI. We were in our 60′ Dutch-built wooden trawler bringing it to the USA. It was green.
It was a gorgeous night, 1/4 moon, gazillions of stars, a big pod of dolphins playing in our bow wake, phosphorescent seas all around us, flying fish bouncing off the cabin. Our wake was visible for at least a mile behind us, glowing in the night.
That night I had the Middle watch, about 0330 I decided that since there were no running lights on the horizon and we were 200 miles south of the shipping lanes that it would be OK to turn our running lights off so I could really enjoy the spectacular light show Mother Nature was providing. I even woke the wife up early so she could see the light show outside.
About 5 minutes later an American voice booms over the radio; “Will the green fishing boat please turn your lights back on!” They didn’t answer my questions asking who they were.
There were no boats visible anywhere. No wakes, no glow! To this day I don’t know who made the broadcast. When the sun came up there were no ships in sight.
300+ miles from the nearest piece of dirt, someone was watching us!
BIG BROTHER IS EVERYWHERE!
4. This guy met Cotton-Eye Joe
In 2014 I did a lot of IT work on off-shore drilling rigs during their final construction phases. Basically, after the rigs went through most of their construction, I would be flown out there for a day or two to get all of the general networking and systems up and running. This included verifying the microwave data link back to shore.
Now this was only about 10-20 miles off the CA coast, but it’s still as dark as you can imagine out there. It’s even quieter than normal because, during this phase, there is maybe only one or two other people on board. Typically an electrician and a general foreman or similar. Sometimes only one of the two.
Anyhow, I was working on a rig about 20 miles out from Long Beach CA. I was going through some rough relationship issues at the time and wasn’t in a great place mentally or emotionally. We didn’t have the internet on the rig at this point so I was pretty bored and caught up in my head so I decided to go take a walk.
I ended up on the helipad just looking at the stars. About 2 minutes later I almost jumped out of my skin.
As I was sitting there, a very small Asian man tapped me on my shoulder from behind. He was wearing a high-vis vest and white construction helmet. He asked me for a smoke and where the closest bathroom was. I gave him one and pointed him in the right direction. Didn’t really think twice about it.
Walked back down to the living quarters and passed the foreman on the way. Told him about the guy I gave a smoke to and he stopped walking and immediately turned around. Told me no one else was on this rig but him and I.
I ran to the IT closet where they kept their security camera storage appliance but our PoE switch wasn’t installed yet. No video. Nothing.
We turned on every light source possible on the rig. Did a basic walkthrough but found no one or any traces of anyone.
We also contacted our transport company which also always typically has a search and rescue team available. They flew over 4 SAR and 2 security personnel. They did a walkthrough of the entire rig. Every possible inch they claim. Took almost a full day. Never turned up.
Still get a bit creeped out thinking about it. If given 3 wishes, one of them would be to know who/what that was and where they went.
3. This is what nightmares are made of
I was once on a small research vessel for 37 days.
I don’t know the specifics, but we were about halfway into our trip when we lost all power. It was night, and I was woken up by my people shouting and loud banging. It wasn’t panic or danger, it very clearly sounded like frustrated problem solving and crankiness.
Anyway, it’s totally black. Everything is pitch black. There some emergency safety lights here and there, but it’s mostly just red indicators with small strobes at the bottom of doorways.
People are walking around below deck setting up wind up lanterns, taping flashlights to water bottles (makes a nice lantern) and trying to figure out what’s going on.
It’s dead quiet except for what noise we are making. No current. No waves. No wind. No moon. We are in the middle of nowhere. Black and silence. It was deafeningly silent.
Grabbing my headlight I make my way up to the rear deck. It was like walking into a wall of nothing.
I’ve never felt so out of space and disoriented. My headlight illuminated the deck and the sky was brilliant with stars. It truly is amazing to be out there with no light and just the unimaginable vastness of space. The thing is my headlight messes with my night vision.
So I turned it off as I look out to the black horizon, where it ought to be. Shouldn’t take long for my eyes to adjust and then I’ll be able to make out the shimmer of starlight refracting across the calm waters.
The ships lights flicker on and my stargazing is cut short. Sucks. Holding the railing while walking back to the cabin door, the lights cut out again. I keep walking.
I feel, for a moment, the most intense disorientation overwhelm my senses. My eyes only see black. The briefness of the lights of the ship was enough to close down my irises. My inner ear, already uneasy from weeks on the sea, spun and flips as upper back smacked into the water.
I was overboard and it felt like forever entering that water. The panic of immersion and no direction. I flailed and I was underwater, cold and black.
That was probably one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had.
The ships lights came back on as I found the surface. I’m sure it was only seconds, and it was only minutes until I was hoisted out of the water and it was years ago yet everyone still won’t let me forget that time I fell overboard.
2. That is not where I expected this story to go
Sailing just a couple miles off the Norwegian coast, in an old 14’ dinghy all by my lonesome. Well, «sailing» is the wrong word; I was drifting in near zero wind, barely making a knot of headway. That’s why I was still out there; I had planned to spend the night on a small island but getting there took forever and it got pitch dark.
No matter, I was safe enough and it was kind of nice to have the nighttime ocean all to myself, not a ship in sight anywhere. I had oars and could have rowed to my destination in an hour or so but didn’t feel like there was any need to hurry (had left the outboard motor ashore because of hunting laws against shooting from a motorized vessel, and I was going after migrating geese). At my position, it was calm and quiet, but all around the horizon, I saw flashes of lightning so far off that I heard no thunder.
As I relaxed and enjoyed the quiet spectacle of distant lightning, all of a sudden I heard someone or something draw a labored breath right next to me. It was unmistakably the sound of breathing, like from a half-strangled person taking a deep breath of much-needed air. Not gonna lie, I briefly panicked before I realized it had to be some marine mammal surfacing for air close to my boat. Guessing it was a harbor porpoise as they are common here, but I never saw it in the darkness. Heard it again a few times, sounded like it moved further away and there may have been more than one based on the frequency. Of course, sound carries far at night, but it really did sound like that initial breath was right behind me, close enough to touch.
Shortly after the breathing sounds disappeared, the wind picked up out of nowhere and I had to scramble to adjust rigging. Made it to the correct island and made landfall about 20 minutes later, having gone from idly drifting on the current to skipping over the waves in a few heartbeats. I guess that distant storm dropped by to say hello.
1. Water can be scary sometimes
This happened to me on Lake Superior. I was with my family going for a paddle in a canoe to check out some pictographs (old native American paintings on rocks). We got to the location and got out on the rocks, we pulled the canoe up and tied it to some rocks (all that was available) while we were on shore checking out the art, a wave caught the Canoe and it started to float back into the lake. We saw it happen, but it was far enough away that quick action was required. So me being a teenager ran back to where the boat was, stripped down and dove in.
If you’ve never been to Lake Superior, it is cold. Even at the end of summer, if you are not on a shallow Sand bar or somewhere the water can heat up a bit, it is like swimming in an ice bath.
So after diving in my first instinct is to immediately get out of the water it is so cold. My skin feels like it’s on fire. I swim over to the canoe grab the rope and swim back to the rocks we were on. When I get to the rock it is covered in algae and is just sort a large ramp going down into the water. I make a couple of attempts but it’s just too slippery.
I’m starting to panic now, I’ve only been in the water for maybe 30 seconds but I feel really fatigued. I’m a pretty strong swimmer and in great shape but it just feels like my body is shutting down.
At this point my dad can see I’m struggling and has started running down to give me a hand, knowing I can’t get up far enough to grab his hand I grab a paddle out of the boat and stretch it up as far as I can. It is now taking all my effort just to keep my head above water. My dad grabs the paddle and pulls me on shore along with the Canoe.
My dad can see that I’m pretty shaken and asks if I’m ok. I explain that if I had have been alone or if he had just waited up with the rest of my family for me to come back I would probably be dead.
Cold water is no joke, your body just gives up on you.