February 12th Writing Prompt: Sailing

A terrible storm strikes at sea, threatening to send a ship to the ocean floor. As the sailors work at maintaining the rigging and keeping the vessel afloat, they see another boat through the rain. This huge barge seems unmanned except for a single figure in black who stands near the aft. Despite conditions, the stranger’s ship seems impervious to the storm. Who is this uncanny sailor, and what are they doing there?

Ideas and questions:

There are many phenomena that happen on the sea that can at first appear to be unexplainable. It could be that this ship is not really present, but may have some sort of supernatural grip on the region of the sea. Perhaps it is a memory stuck in time, or a view into another world.
Running a ship effectively by oneself—especially of that size—would be impossible. That would seem to imply that the rest of that person’s crew were holed up below deck, or that they have some magical control over the ship. Otherwise, it might be that the person is a mere trick of the eyes, and the other sailors watching from afar are seeing a ghost ship, devoid of any crew.
Magic can certainly have its hold on people. It’s possible that the ship that seems to easily survive the rough waves and battering storm could have a powerful artifact aboard. There could also be magic that is used against the sailors who watch the strange phenomenon. Perhaps the violent storm is not present at all.

Is the impressive figure a mere mortal who has somehow mastered their understanding of the storm? Or are they a supernatural being, such as a deity, a demon, or death itself?
Is what the sailors are seeing truly there, or is it a trick of some sort? Is illusory magic being used for some reason to have the seafarers believing that some mighty ship sails the oceans without any problems, no matter the weather? If so, will that reason be divulged during your story?


Spotting a strange ship like the barge in the distance—somehow surviving against the rough waters with ease—would be peculiar enough. But surviving the weather and finding oneself on that ship might be even more unique. Write about a sailor who is tossed from their ship, only to find themselves aboard the other one, either after the storm has passed, or still in the midst of it.

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