The vast expanse of the sea can be overwhelming, especially for people like aspiring crew-members who are looking at spending most of their working lives sailing. There are many myths – from folklore or general disinformation – that could cause unnecessary anxiety. Here are a few:
A powerful rip current can drag you out to sea
Rip currents are strong, fast-moving currents that occur on the surface of the water and move directly away from shore. It is true that they are dangerous, but it is certainly untrue that getting caught up in one will land you in the middle of the ocean.
They occur close to shore, and while it may be a bit of swim back, it is possible to get back to safety. The key is to not fight it. The undertow – which is the force that can make you panic – is short. It drags you underwater but throws you back out quickly, so the important thing here is to hold your breath and relax. Always swim perpendicular to the current and away from it, towards the shore. Don’t tire yourself out.
This is an important point to remember for crew-members who spend some time off swimming at the beaches in port.
The deadly Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda triangle is located between Bermuda, Florida and Puerto Rico, well in cruise ship territory. Disappearing ships and flights gave rise to myths about the existence of an unexplainable force of destruction, with suggestions from alien abductions to magnetic anomalies.
Thousands of ships have safely crossed through the Bermuda Triangle with calm seas and beautiful skies. While it is still uncertain what caused those disappearances, they were likely the result of bad weather, human error or technical failures.
Sharks hunt down humans
These poor creatures have borne the brunt of the effects Hollywood fiction portraying them as serial killers of swimmers. The fact remains that while they are ruthless hunters, humans are not their natural prey.
If they turn up in waters popular with swimmers, it is because we are in their home. Most shark bites occur because sharks are curious and exploring what we are. Since they don’t have hands and have the most sensitive areas at their snout and mouth, they take a nibble.
Sharks are wild animals and must be respected and protected in their environment. Crew-members relaxing at beaches off work should heed any shark warnings and swim calmly since they are attracted to thrashing animals that are most likely wounded.
Urine eases jellyfish stings
Some jellyfish can be deadly, others not so much. But any poisonous jellyfish sting is likely to cause at least irritation, if not painful welts.
Myths abound as to the most effective and immediate pain relief when stung by a far-reaching tentacle. One of these is that urinating on a jellyfish sting, made well-known by popular sitcom Friends, can heal it. The fact is that urine could cause more pain rather than relief.
Instead, it is more effective to wash the area with saltwater – not freshwater, or better still vinegar.