Sea Serpents and Maritime Monsters
Tales of terrible creatures sighted at sea abound, after all “Worse Things Happen at Sea”
Hans Egede, who founded Greenland’s capital Godthåb, now known as Nuuk, gave one of the oldest descriptions of a sea serpent – commonly believed to have been a giant squid. On 6 July 1734 he wrote that his ship was off the Greenland coast when those on board “saw a most terrible creature, resembling nothing they saw before. The monster lifted its head so high that it seemed to be higher than the crow’s nest on the mainmast.
The head was small and the body short and wrinkled. The unknown creature was using giant fins which propelled it through the water. Later the sailors saw its tail as well. The monster was longer than our whole ship”.
The witches who control the wind
According to legends witches were believed to be able to control the wind. One method was with the use of three knots tied into a rope, or sometimes into a handkerchief. When the three knots were tied in the proper magical way, the wind was bound up in them. Witches gave, or sometimes sold, these magic knots to sailors to help them experience safe voyages. The release of one knot brought a gentle, southwesterly wind; two knots, a strong north wind; and three knots, a tempest. In the folklore of the Shetland Islands and Scandinavia, some fishermen were said to have commanded the wind this way. The belief in controlling the wind by tying it goes back to the legends of ancient Greece; Odysseus received a bag of wind from Aeolus to help him on his journey.