Scotland’s large coast line has given way to many sea-faring myths and legends.
Between the mainline of north-west Scotland and the Hebridean Islands of Skye, Harris & Lewis, lies a strait of water called “The Minch”.
This body of water is usually stormy with chopping waves and it is here, that live the, “Storm Kelpies”, usually known as, “The Blue Men of the Minch”. Only when they are sleeping & floating quietly under the surface of the water, which is very rare indeed, is this stretch of sea known to be smooth & calm.
The Blue Men live in caves beneath the turbulent, tidal waves around the Shiant Isles, which is known as the “Current of Destruction” as it is notorious for its shipwrecking tragedies.
These men are the size of a human, with blue caps upon their heads. They have grey faces and beards of a greeny colour. Their arms are elongated and they use them to stir up the seas where they abide. Once the ships are tossing widely about the “kelpies” fling their arms around to try and latch onto the ships and try to climb aboard.
It is unknown where the legend originated but it is quite clear as to what happens to the ships sailing in these dangerous waters. As the Blue Men’s leader, Seonaidh, (or Shony) approaches a ship he is known to offer the ship’s captain a chance to redeem his ship and save the lives of his crew. Shony will shout out the first lines of a poem and all on board must speedily reply with lines of their own.
e.g. Shony may say, “Man of the black cap what do you say, As your proud ship cleaves the brine ?
To which the ship’s crew might challenge, “My speedy ship takes the shortest way, And I’ll follow you line by line”.
Indignant the Blue Chief may quote, “My men are eager, my men are ready, To drag you below the waves”.
And defiantly the crew may answer, “My ship is speedy, my ship is steady, If it sinks, it would destroy your caves”.
The Blue Men on hearing these retorts from a ship’s captain and his men could possibly succumb, thus so defeated could signal to all the kelpies to retreat and with that disappear below the waves. Allowing the ship to resume its journey unharmed.
However, quick thinking sailors must be in a minority because many a ship has gone down to the bottom and been devoured by “the Blue Men of the Minch”.