• Paul Coleman

Neptunes Ceremony Inspired Me To Go To Sea

I loved visiting my grandma's when I was a child. especially routing around in her cellar to find the old photo albums of my granddad, who spent 35 years in the Royal Navy, beginning as a 15 yr old deck hand at the Battle of Jutland in WW1 and ending with his last ship, as a Chief Petty Officer aboard the Merchant Ship Voltaire, which was sank off Cape Verde during WW2, an action that caused him to spend the rest of the war as a Prisoner of War in Germany.

A Crossing The Line Ceremony During WW2

I was enthralled by pictures that he took when in the early nineteen thirties, when he was in the far east, Japan in particular, but the one that caught my imagination was of the Neptune Ceremony which featured a swimming pool on a naval ship with sailors dressed as mythological characters from the sea. throwing other sailors into the water. This my grandma explained was the ceremony that happened to sailors when they first crossed the Equator. It looked like so much fun I wanted to experience it!


MV Medic, Shaw Saville Line

By the time I got to sea the ceremony had completely changed. When I 'crossed the line' in the middle of the Pacific, on my first trip to sea, onboard the 'Medic' it was not fun at all. I was tied to mast, covered with paint, and garbage and had my much loved hair hacked away by a bunch of drunken seamen with a blunt knife. Not at all romantic and with bad a sun burn, it was a painful experience that I was happy I would never have to relive.


MV Westminster Bridge

The next time I crossed the line in the Atlantic off the west coast of Africa, on the MV Westminster Bridge. I was sure glad I had been there and done that, but oh my gosh, did I ever feel sorry for the galley boy who had one of the worst sunburns and blistering that I had ever seen. and suffered in agony for weeks afterwards, as a result of removing the paints and oils that I had poured onto him.


By golly gum. Those were the days! Photo of the crossing the line ceremony was found on Wikipedia. Medic is from http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=2806919 and Westminster Bridge is from http://www.clydeships.co.uk/view.php?ref=11208#v

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©2018 Paul Coleman