14 of the scariest stories from sea

STX FilmsThe sea can be a scary place.
  • Monster storms, giant waves, and even heavy fog can make for hair-raising experiences out on a boat.
  • Animals, from sea creatures to birds, can also create some bizarre boating adventures.
  • The vast expanse of the sea itself can be harrowing in its own right.

Not every trip on a boat turns out to be a pleasure cruise. In fact, if something can go wrong while you’re on a boat, then it probably will go wrong.

Anyway, as these manyReddit threads prove, boaters can have some eerie, awe-inspiring, and downright terrifying experiences out on the water.

Of course, this is just for fun, as INSIDER cannot independently authenticate these stories.


“The swells get huge and rough.”

pixabay‘Whenever you’re in the middle of a storm, it’s quite exciting.’

“I’ve been on large container ships up and down the coast here.

Whenever you’re in the middle of a storm, it’s quite exciting. It’s hard to describe the sea in the middle of a storm. The swells get huge and rough. When lightning hits the sea you see it light up a huge area and start to froth.

“The scariest though is being on the bridge in a trough between two swells and seeing the water rising up on either side of you like a wall.” – Reddit user Pagan-za


“I have been hit by a rogue wave once.”

Max Pixel‘One person made it out without shedding blood or broken bones.’

“I have been hit by a rogue wave once. Of some twenty people on deck, one person made it out without shedding blood or broken bones.

“I was on late racks (where you sleep in because you were on watch from 0000-0400) and was thrown out of my rack and banged up my side really well on the air conditioning unit on my way down.” – Reddit user Coastie071


“I was caught in an electrical storm while fishing.”

Tim Regan/Flickr‘I was standing on the deck watching the rods… ‘

“I was caught in an electrical storm while fishing. This was in Lake Ontario, running eight-foot graphite rods on downriggers.

I was standing on the deck watching the rods, and I noticed blue sparks start jumping from rod to rod. A split second later, lightning struck directly behind the boat. That was probably the loudest natural sound I will ever hear in my life.” – Reddit user Dogebase


“Jellyfish everywhere.”

redchanka / iStock‘These were not the usual jellyfish… ‘

“I was sailing by the coast of Okinawa, when a thunderstorm started up in the middle of the night. Strangely, the ocean was completely still and the weather was giving us a wonderful light show.

Lightning would strike the water and light up everything around us. Suddenly, lighting struck near our boat and we saw the most incredible sight. Jellyfish. Jellyfish everywhere.

These were not the usual jellyfish that you see around the United States, these things were HUGE. The lightning would strike the water, and the jellyfish would light up. The ocean literally looked like it glowed purple and red that night.” – Reddit user Friendlyvoices


“… all you can see are ghostly trails of the light in the water… “

Patrik Jones/FlickrThe Reddit user witnessed dolphins when there was bioluminescence.

“One of the strangest and most beautiful things to see is when dolphins are swimming around the ship at night, and there is bioluminescence.

If there’s no light pollution or moonlight, all you can see are ghostly trails of the light in the water and hear something breathing in the water below you.” – Reddit user closetocelot


“I witnessed meteorites.”

“Merchant seaman here. I have travelled worldwide with over 50,000 miles under my belt, having crossed the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans multiple times.

“The things I have seen that really creeped me out were whilst on watch at night. And on several occasions, I witnessed meteorites similar to, if not bigger than, the ones caught on dash cams in Russia. Also, they were seemingly close to the ship, and even audible to the human ear outside on the bridge wings.

Spectacular sights but also kinda terrifying.” – Reddit user Mikey4021


“You start hearing engines creeping up on you.”

PX Here‘You can’t see anything but the boat immediately around you.’

“Fog at sea at night really f—- up your senses too. Everything is quiet and you can’t see anything but the boat immediately around you.

You keep looking for lights on other ships and listening for fog horns or the sound of engines in the distance, and your brain starts playing all manner of tricks on you.

In a busy shipping lane it’s a serious business, and in a very real way it could be life or death if you miss a ship that hits you and sinks you.

You start to see lights everywhere around you. You start hearing engines creeping up on you.

You stop your boat and cut the engine to see if you’re hearing anything real and you enter an even stranger world of sensory deprivation. It’s eerie as hell.” – Reddit user robbersdog49


“I’ve heard a lot of weird, unnatural, disturbing-sounding fish that nobody can identify.”

“I’m a United States Navy submarine sonar tech. I’ve heard some strange-sounding fish that people can usually identify, or at least fish that have a colloquial name (such as the boingfish).

Then I’ve heard a lot of weird, unnatural, disturbing-sounding fish that nobody can identify. Fish that sound like an opera singer singing while puking into a paper shredder.” – Reddit user SeriousMichael


“Our ship at the waterline disappeared into the same uniform grey.”

Pixabay‘The sea and the sky visually became just one thing.’

“The strangest thing I’ve ever seen was off the coast of Africa when the sea and the sky all just became the same. They were not just the same colour, but the sea and the sky visually became just one thing.

Other ships in the vicinity just appeared to be floating in the air. Our ship at the waterline disappeared into the same uniform grey.

It’s what I imagine things would look like in space. I have no idea what caused it and can’t find any pictures of it. It was the single weirdest thing I have ever seen at sea.” – Reddit user EskimoNorth


“The birds just started dropping dead out of the sky.”

“Last October I was on a survey vessel between the Shetland Islands and the Faroe Islands.

The sea was like a mirror, unusual for the Atlantic, and a thick fog had surrounded us for days. We were collecting core samples from the seafloor, and I was working nights.

Out of nowhere, thousands of tiny birds appeared out of the fog. Some settled on the boat, all silent. Others flew clockwise around the boat, darting in and out of the fog.

This continued for a few hours, until around 4:00 am the birds just started dropping dead out of the sky. Thump! And a tiny, fragile dead bird landed next to me.

This continued until daybreak when the fog finally lifted and the birds disappeared along with it.

We were finding the bodies for days afterward.” – Reddit user theclockticks


“The boat was rising and falling way beyond the neutral.”

Warner Bros.‘Their sailboat was going over some GIGANTIC swells.’

“I have family who sailed around the world. One day in the North Atlantic, their sailboat was going over some GIGANTIC swells. They didn’t have breaks at the top, so it was safe, but the boat was rising and falling way beyond the neutral.

At the bottom of a trough my uncle looked up to see the sun behind a wave and the silhouette of a whale inside, above him.” – Reddit user Atlasnew


“Upon this raft was not a soul.”

Wikimedia Commons‘The chances of coming across a raft, to begin with, are small enough in that part of the ocean.’

“I found myself, on my ship, somewhere in the vast expanses of the South Pacific Ocean. We had been cautiously avoiding big storms which I knew to be all around us (out further than the eye can see), although our local ocean area was calm and peaceful.

I was on watch when I noticed something out there, in the distance, bobbing along. It was something that I had never seen before, especially this far from land.

As I got closer, I identified what was clearly a makeshift raft, made from lashed together bamboo, with a snapped mast, and an empty cooler moored to the deck. Upon this raft was not a soul.

The chances of coming across a raft, to begin with, are small enough in that part of the ocean. Thinking about the person(s) who once sailed that raft, why they sailed, and how they met their fate – that was what creeped me out.”- Reddit user Trev0matic


“I’m not sure how an adult spider even got to that pole anyway.”

Wikimedia Commons‘… it was full of spiderlings… ‘

“There was a pole we moored off to in a shallow bay, quite a ways from any land, and it was full of spiderlings who desperately moved themselves to our boat.

We spent the rest of that day covered in fine silk and picking spiders out of each other’s hair. I’m not sure how an adult spider even got to that pole anyway.” – Reddit user Saltwaterblood


“A huge wave hit the ship, and he went over the stern of the ship and hit water.”

Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions‘He submerged completely… ‘

“Obligatory not me but my dad. He joined up with an oil tanker crew in the Gulf of Mexico for a year while he tried to figure out what to do after college. He says he had a lot of fun and made some great memories, but for a while, he wouldn’t tell me why he quit. Eventually, I convinced him to tell me when I got older.

One night, they hit bad weather and he had to go up on deck to do some b—- work real quick. He had his life vest and the bungee cord on securely, so he figured he’d be OK.

A huge wave hit the ship, and he went over the stern of the ship and hit water. He submerged completely, came face to face with two propellers bigger than he was, got pulled out of the water by the bungee cord, and was then slammed back hard on the deck.

He finished that job, quit immediately after they hit land, went back to college, and enrolled for his second degree.” – Reddit user scotchycharm

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