25 Incredible Ship and Sailor Stories

Posted by , Updated on May 22, 2024

Since our ancestors first mastered the art of navigating water using boats, these vessels have been pivotal in the advancement of societies. This is largely why many civilizations developed near coasts and rivers. Bodies of water and aquatic routes have been vital for purposes such as fishing, transportation, and trade, their societal impact akin to the invention of the wheel. Unsurprisingly, much of our history is filled with tales of sailing and seafaring. Today, while the nature of maritime activity has changed—with oceans now predominantly traversed by military crafts, cargo ships, and cruise liners—the relevance of water bodies persists. Piracy and transportation have shifted to modern arenas—the internet and air travel, respectively—but the importance of maritime routes remains significant. Fetching items like the Nike sneakers you recently bought from the mall would be practically impossible without these shipping routes. While air freight is an option, it is considerably more expensive than transporting goods by sea. So, brace yourself as we delve into 25 remarkable stories about ships, boats, and their sailors!

Featured Image: public-domain-image.com

25

Robert Smalls was a slave that seized a ship during the Civil War and delivered it to the North. He was later put in charge of the ship. After the war he bought the house he was a slave in and became a congressman.

Robert Smalls was a slave that seized a ship during the Civil War and delivered it to the North. He was later put in charge of the ship. After the war he bought the house he was a slave in and became a congressman.Source: washingtonpost.com, Image: wikipedia
24

Quarantine is derived from the Latin word for "forty". This is the number of days a ship typically had to wait to dock because of the plague.

Quarantine is derived from the Latin word for "forty". This is the number of days a ship typically had to wait to dock because of the plague.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
23

In the Royal Navy there is a superstition that whistling on-board can cause bad weather. The only person typically allowed to whistle is the cook (because it means he's not eating the food!)

In the Royal Navy there is a superstition that whistling onboard can cause bad weather. The only person typically allowed to whistle is the cook (because it means he's not eating the food!)Source: hmsrichmond.org, Image: wikipedia
22

During the Battle of Samar in World War II, the USS Johnston charged a much bigger force of Japanese ships. It did so much damage that while it was sinking, some of the Japanese ships saluted it.

During the Battle of Samar in World War II, the USS Johnston charged a much bigger force of Japanese ships. It did so much damage that while it was sinking, some of the Japanese ships saluted it.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
21

In 1784, a Japanese sailor named Chunosuke Matsuyama sent out a message in a bottle from his sinking ship. It washed ashore in 1935 near the very village where he had been born.

In 1784, a Japanese sailor named Chunosuke Matsuyama sent out a message in a bottle from his sinking ship. It washed ashore in 1935 near the very village where he had been born.Source: wikipedia, Image: pixabay
20

In 2013, chef Harrison Okene survived underwater for 3 days when his ship sank. Apparently he took refuge in an air pocket where rescuers eventually found him.

In 2013, chef Harrison Okene survived underwater for 3 days when his ship sank. Apparently he took refuge in an air pocket where rescuers eventually found him.Source: huffingtonpost, Image: wikipedia
19

Jeanne de Clisson was a Frenchwoman who became a pirate in the 1300s to avenge the death of her husband. She sold her land to buy 3 ships and then proceeded to terrorize French nobility along the coast.

Jeanne de Clisson was a Frenchwoman who became a pirate in the 1300s to avenge the death of her husband. She sold her land to buy 3 ships and then proceeded to terrorize French nobility along the coast.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
18

Whenever merchant ships were stopped by pirates, quite often a number of the merchant sailors would join the pirate crew

Whenever merchant ships were stopped by pirates, quite often a number of the merchant sailors would join the pirate crewSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
17

In 1628, the Swedish warship Vasa sank. It was recovered in 1961 nearly 100% intact. It is the only such ship we have from the 1600s.

In 1628, the Swedish warship Vasa sank. It was recovered in 1961 nearly 100% intact. It is the only such ship we have from the 1600s.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
16

Ramon Artagaveytia survived the sinking of a ship in 1871. It wasn't until 41 years later that he mustered up the courage to get back on a boat. Unfortunately for him that boat's name was the Titanic.

Ramon Artagaveytia survived the sinking of a ship in 1871. It wasn't until 41 years later that he mustered up the courage to get back on a boat. Unfortunately for him that boat's name was the Titanic.Source: encyclopedia-titanica.org, Image: wikipedia
15

In spite of never having had any training, Admiral Yi Sun Shin defeated 333 Japanese ships with a fleet of only 13 Korean ships

In spite of never having had any training, Admiral Yi Sun Shin defeated 333 Japanese ships with a fleet of only 13 Korean shipsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
14

When researchers from Texas State University ran out of money while studying the pirate Captain Morgan, it was the Captain Morgan Rum Company that gave them money to continue!

When researchers from Texas State University ran out of money while studying the pirate Captain Morgan, it was the Captain Morgan Rum Company that gave them money to continue!Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
13

One of the most powerful pirates to ever set sail was Ching Shih. She was a Chinese prostitute who ended up commanding nearly 2,000 ships.

One of the most powerful pirates to ever set sail was Ching Shih. She was a Chinese prostitute who ended up commanding nearly 2,000 ships.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
12

The MS Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea in 1994 and all 852 passengers are still at the bottom. It is illegal to dive to the wreck.

The MS Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea in 1994 and all 852 passengers are still at the bottom. It is illegal to dive to the wreck.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
11

The Claw of Archimedes was an anti-ship weapon designed to basically lift ships and then drop them into the ocean. It was used by the Greeks against the Romans.

The Claw of Archimedes was an anti-ship weapon designed to basically lift ships and then drop them into the ocean. It was used by the Greeks against the Romans.Source: bbc, Image: wikipedia
10

Tommy Thompson was a treasure hunter that found the shipwreck of the SS Central America. In 1987 he recovered nearly $1 billion from the wreck and disappeared.

Tommy Thompson was a treasure hunter that found the shipwreck of the SS Central America. In 1987 he recovered nearly $1 billion from the wreck and disappeared.Source: forbes, Image: wikipedia
9

In 1969, the ship named Baychimo was spotted drifting in the Arctic. It was abandoned nearly 40 years earlier in 1931 near Alaska.

In 1969, the ship named Baychimo was spotted drifting in the Arctic. It was abandoned nearly 40 years earlier in 1931 near Alaska.Source: alaskadispatch.com, Image: wikipedia
8

During World War II the Dutch disguised the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen to look like a tropical island (to trick the Japanese).

During World War II the Dutch disguised the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen to look like a tropical island (to trick the Japanese).Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
7

In 2012, an Air Canada flight was about to land in Australia when it got involved in a search and rescue mission for a lost yacht. After about 30 minutes the passengers spotted Glenn Ey of Queensland adrift.

In 2012, an Air Canada flight was about to land in Australia when it got involved in a search and rescue mission for a lost yacht. After about 30 minutes the passengers spotted Glenn Ey of Queensland adrift.Source: cnn, Image: wikipedia
6

The actual crew of Captain Philip's ship claim he is a fraud who endangered their lives and that the film is inaccurate.

The actual crew of Captain Philip's ship claim he is a fraud who endangered their lives and that the film is inaccurate.Source: nypost.com, Image: wikipedia
5

In 1969, France canceled a delivery of 5 missile boats that Israel had bought. So Israel stole them in something that came to be known as the Cherbourg Project.

In 1969, France canceled a delivery of 5 missile boats that Israel had bought. So Israel stole them in something that came to be known as the Cherbourg Project.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
4

In 1988 a steamboat named Arabia was excavated. It was beneath nearly 50 feet of dirt in rural Kansas. But guess what? Some of the food was still edible!

In 1988 a steamboat named Arabia was excavated. It was beneath nearly 50 feet of dirt in rural Kansas. But guess what? Some of the food was still edible!Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
3

According to studies performed by the National Institute of Health, retiring to a cruise ship was often cheaper and provided a higher quality of life than in a retirement home.

According to studies performed by the National Institute of Health, retiring to a cruise ship was often cheaper and provided a higher quality of life than in a retirement home.Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, Image: wikipedia
2

In 2005, the driver for Dave Matthew's Band opened the tour bus's septic tank above a grate over the Chicago River. Unfortunately, there was a boat full of sightseers down below.

In 2005, the driver for Dave Matthew's Band opened the tour bus's septic tank above a grate over the Chicago River. Unfortunately, there was a boat full of sightseers down below.Source: chicagotribune.com
1

An abandoned Russian cruise ship has been adrift in the North Atlantic since 2013 (Lyubov Orlova)

An abandoned Russian cruise ship has been adrift in the North Atlantic since 2013 (Lyubov Orlova)Source: businessinsider, Image: wikipedia


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