The ocean holds almost as many mysteries as outer space, even though humans have spent more time exploring and traversing it. From animals of the deep to rare weather patterns and even ghost encounters, the unexpected is a way of life for people who work on ships. Some of the stories shared by ship crewmen on Reddit are ghostly while others are explainable, but they’re all unsettling.
Each of these stories comes from someone who probably had to keep on working through their spooky conditions without returning home immediately, but such is the life of someone who's given themselves to the sea. Whether you’re an experienced seafarer or a landlubber with a desire to find excitement on the high seas, these stories will send a chill up your spine and perhaps keep you out of the water for a while.
From Redditor /u/dgblarge:
I was on a research vessel south of the Solomon Islands after a cyclone had torn the place to shreds. Come 3 am it was time to lower the instrument (a CTD with Nisken bottle rosette, for those interested ) and turn on the searchlights over the quarterdeck.
The ocean surface was awash with coconut palms, bits of wood, outdoor furniture, and so on. The islands had been swept clean and the ship was sitting in a vast field of floating debris. Mesmerized by this, I kept staring at it all when I noticed a small pink shape with what appeared to be arms, legs, and a head. My heart almost stopped beating. A child? Closer inspection revealed it was a child's doll. But for those few seconds... horrific.
From Redditor /u/Lake_Throwaway:
Two friends [and I]... rented a boat on Lake Okeechobee in Florida. We get a 30-foot pontoon boat that had a cover, although there was no cabin or anything under the main deck. It was winter in South Florida so it was cool but not cold, so we decided to just sleep on the boat instead of setting up a camp. We planned on spending three days and two nights on the lake. We spent our time drinking, fishing, and playing games.
On the second night I woke up, still drunk from our previous activities, but my senses were on overdrive and I just felt aware of something. I was sleeping toward the back of the boat while my friends were at the front. It was eerily calm with no waves in the water.
We were about 250 feet from shore with land on our port side. I started scanning the tree line looking for... something. Nothing on land, so I scanned the water on the port side. Nothing. So I scanned the water aft of the boat. Nothing. I didn't want to disturb my friends up front, so I scanned the water on the starboard side. That's when I saw it: a skull floating in the water with just the eye sockets and part of the nasal cavity sitting there in the water, looking right at me about 50 feet away.
An immediate sense of dread took me; it was the most scared I'd ever been in my life. Then an even worse feeling took over: calmness and the sudden urge to jump in the water. I had the notion that I would be at home and at peace if I just jumped into the water. Before I could act on it, I think one of my friends stirred in their sleep because I heard a beer bottle start rolling near the front of the boat.
This snapped me out of it and the feeling of dread returned. I yelled at them to get up while I moved to start the engines. One didn't respond at all while the other drunkenly told me to f*ck off. I yelled again that I'm not f*cking around, and nothing. I was about to pull the starter on the engine/yell again at my friends when I heard something. I froze and listened closely... a very faint splashing sound was slowly getting closer.
I forget about yelling at my friends and focused on starting the engine. I pulled and pulled and pulled on the starter, and nothing. In between the pulls, I heard the splashing getting closer but I didn't dare look in the direction of the noise. Finally, the engine started and I punched it out of there. I must have gone 30 miles before I came to a stop to conserve fuel. Until the sun rose and my friends woke up, I spent the rest of the night scanning the waters just in case.
I had to make up a bullsh*t excuse to explain to my friends why we were so far away from our previous spot. I wanted to tell them, but I doubt they would believe me. When I got home I did some research, and apparently Native American tribes possibly used the lake as a burial ground, plus there are thought to be the bodies of many victims of hurricanes throughout the decades lying in the lake. Fishermen have found many human bones over the years.
This was over six years ago and I have yet to set foot near any body of water larger than my shower. No lakes, oceans, rivers, water parks, pools, hot tubs, nothing. I don't blame you if you don't believe some random guy on the internet. Many times I tried to write it off as my drunk self seeing things. However, I can't write off the feeling of wanting to jump into the water with something, real or not, that struck me with terror just a moment ago. Thinking about that feeling of wanting to go into the water with whatever was out there chills me to this day.
From Redditor /u/Randy_shackelsFord:
I was an ABE [US Navy aviation boatswain's mate - equipment] on board a carrier in the middle of the ocean somewhere. We launched the last bird of the night and started wrapping everything up topside. It was midnight, and pitch black out. [We used] only the light from the stars, and the dim yellow tinted lights off the island. My goggles were scratched to sh*t, so everything was just foggy and dark.
Out of nowhere, it was as bright as day for a few seconds. Caught off guard, I looked up... in the sky and saw a massive f*cking white light with a long... trail of fire. It looked almost like a jet with full afterburners shooting flames, but was so f*cking massive, it just couldn't be a bird. I started thinking it was just a big f*cking [incendiary device].
[It] eventually went behind some clouds for about five seconds, then we saw it again. This time you could see the fire forming around the front of the sphere-shaped thing. It was so massive in size, and going so fast, it didn't take but a few seconds to go across the whole horizon of sea. Two weeks later in port we saw that a big comet struck Russia. Not sure it's even possible for something like that to stay in orbit for two weeks... but it was definitely a weird thing to see.
From Redditor /u/Coastie071:
[I] came upon an empty life raft in the middle of the Atlantic. In all likelihood it was probably an "accidental discharge.” Maybe a crew member was f*cking around with the release or something...
The implications otherwise are very disturbing though. Did a ship go down with all hands without anyone making it to the raft? Was the raft abandoned for some reason? It left me feeling vaguely disturbed for a while afterward.