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Old Stormalong

A Massachusetts Tall Tale


Now everyone knows that Alfred Bulltop Stormalong was the ultimate sailor. He was the captain of a mighty ship known as the Courser, which was so wide that she couldn’t sail into Boston Harbor and so tall that the mast was hinged into the middle so it could be taken down to avoid the sun and the moon whenever they passed by. Her keel was so deep that no harbor in the world could take her, so she spent all her time in deep water.

The Courser only went through the English Channel once. It was a tight squeeze, so Old Stormalong had the sailors coat the entire outside of the ship with soap. Even then, Old Stormalong barely slid the boat through, and so much soap scraped off one side of the boat at Dover that the cliffs there became permanently white. After that, the English very politely asked Old Stormalong to go around the long way, and that is what he did.

The deck of the Courser was so long that the sailors had to ride horses at a full gallop from stem to stern when it was their turn to keep watch. Old Stormalong was the only man strong enough to handle the wheel of the Courser, and it took all of his muscle to prevent the ship from knocking down the smaller Caribbean islands whenever a hurricane blew into the ship.


You can read more Massachusetts folklore and ghost stories in Spooky Massachusetts by .


S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. 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.