"like Sinbad's Old Man of the Sea"

 

Illustration from Sinbad the Sailor
Public DomainIllustration from Sinbad the Sailor

The story of Sinbad the Sailor appears in One Thousand and One Nights (sometimes known as Arabian Nights).  The Old Man of the Sea was a monstrous sea-dwelling figure whom Sinbad met on his fifth voyage.  He clung to Sinbad's back and could not be shaken off.  Eventually, Sinbad made him get drunk so that he fell off and Sinbad could escape.