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When the tide is at the turning and the wind is fast asleep, and not a wave is curling on the wide, blue deep, Oh, the waters will be churning in the stream that never smiles, where the Blue Men are splashing round the charmed isles.
-A Boatman’s Song About The Blue Men Of The Minch
The wind takes a nasty turn, the sky begins to darken as a storm moves in. The waters around the ship churn in the wind. Some onboard swear they can see faces in the waves, blue skin with gray hair. A flash of lightning illuminates the waters and reveals much more than faces. Dozens of long arms press on the sides and rock the ship as the storm rages in the sky. The Blue Men Of The Minch have come up from their caves.
The Blue Men, or Storm Kelpies as they are sometimes called, live in one particular place in Scotland. The Minch, a strait of water that divides two island chains, the Inner Hebrides and the Outer Hebrides. It is also called “The Current Of Destruction.” Due to how many shipwrecks have happened there.
Sailors had a fear of the Minch and some would avoid it, especially when the weather was bad. They said it was the Blue Men who caused those sudden storms so that they could capsize the ships. They had scouts which would float on the water until a boat would come near, then sound the alarm for their brethren to come up out of their underwater caves.
Although a popular topic in fisherman songs at seaside taverns and in hushed whispers on ship’s galleys, there are few stories about encounters with the Blue Men of the Minch. One deals with a curious way to defeat the Blue Men when they attack.
The Blue Men of the Minch have a leader, a chief of sorts, who seems to enjoy a good rhyme. The leader will call out to the captain of the ship in two rhyming lines if the captain doesn’t reply in kind, the Men swarm and sink the ship. If the captain has a quick tongue and sharp wit, he might manage to stump the chief. In which case the Men will depart and the crew will be spared.
Another legend tells of sailors who capture one of the Blue Men. They found him asleep, floating on the surface of the water. They managed to snag it in a net and haul the Blue Man onto the deck. There they bound it with strong ropes and planned to take the creature back to shore. However, before they could get very far, two voices called out in rhyming verse from the water. They called themselves Duncan and Donald, and at their voices, the Blue Man woke and snapped the ropes. It called back, named itself Ian and jumped over the side. This has led some to think that the Blue Men have their own names and possibly a society with similarities to our own.
The Blue Men Of The Minch is a fascinating case of localized monster sightings. There are other cryptids that share loose similarities with them, such as the Kelpies, and to an extent, the Selkies, but the Blue Men stand apart. They are seen nowhere else but the treacherous waters of the Minch. Which has led many to believe they are a personification of the sea itself. A way for sailors to make sense of the sudden storms that would sink their ships in that stretch of water known for destruction.
(If you enjoyed reading about The Blue Men Of The Minch, please feel free to check out other fascinating cryptids under the Creature Feature category.)