Tall Tales

Old Stormalong and the Octopus

A Rhode Island Tall Tale

retold by

S.E. Schlosser 

One day Old Stormalong, the ultimate sailor, was sailing the Courser through the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean when a particularly large wave knocked the anchor loose. The anchor plunged right down to the bottom before the sailors could reel her in, and it got caught on something. The big ship lurched to a halt and the sailors rushed hither and thither, back and forth trying to figure out how to shake the anchor loose.

Finally, Old Stormalong pushed the sailors aside and gave the anchor a tug himself. But that anchor was stuck firm, and the sailors begged Stormie not to pull at it again, because they were afraid that he would wrench a hole in the bottom of the world and all the water would spill out into space. So Old Stormalong he decided to go down to the depths to see if he could unhook the anchor from whatever it was tangled to.

Taking a knife between his teeth, Old Stormalong dove into the water. For a few minutes nothing happened. Then the waters below the massive ship began to bubble and churn. The waves grew higher and higher until the ship was tossed around like a rubber duck in the bathtub. Even the old sailors grew seasick and clutched the rail, groaning aloud. After a few minutes the waves started to calm, and then Old Stormalong popped his head out of the water. "She's good to go, boys. Hoist anchor!" he shouted.

Old Stormalong climbed aboard while his men hoisted the giant anchor. As soon as they caught their breath, the sailors asked their captain why the anchor had gotten stuck on the bottom.

"It was a giant octopus playing games down in one of the canyons," Old Stormie explained. "It took a-hold of the anchor with four legs and was using the other four to hold onto the bottom of the sea."

"How did you get the anchor loose?" asked the first mate.

"Well, I just arm-wrestled the old whale-bait until it shouted for mercy and then tied its arms into double carrick bends. It will take the better part of the month for all the knots to come undone."


You can read more Rhode Island stories in Spooky New England by S.E. Schlosser.


Famous characters Ghost Stories Folktales


Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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