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Old 25-06-2010, 16:49   #1
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Should you Placate Neptune ?

There are many rituals/superstitions that people follow, such as making an offering to Neptune when you cross the Equator or not leaving port on a Friday. But do any of them work? I wonder what rituals people are using and whether they find them of benefit? Has anyone tested them scientifically, such as experimenting to see whether making bigger or more frequent offerings to Neptune results in better sailing conditions? Is it all a waste of time or are there at least psychological benefits?
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Old 25-06-2010, 17:01   #2
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i have never seen it fail so far----but doesnt necessarily yield sailing conditions--more likely survival and such.......maybe the water spout might hit someone else instead of you .....like that......
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Old 25-06-2010, 17:14   #3
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I got my shellback and bluenose when I was in the US Navy. It's a way of noting the accomplishments from more experienced sailors (in my view). "Neptune" was always some greasy a-ganger from engineering.

Most good luck / bad luck stuff is garbage romanticism. If the weather window is good for Friday, you're silly for waiting on it. If you don't like the boat name, change the boat name. Learn how to swim, well.

I don't mean to be a downer about it, but it was commonly thought that the crew from Scandanavia were bad luck because they were wizards. Some of the "old wisdom" is still dead on like with "mares tails, mares tails, tall ships carry short sails". But putting silver dollars under the mast is just silly beyond novelity aspects.
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Old 25-06-2010, 19:02   #4
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As a golden shellback, I learned that it might not make sense, but I felt better doing it. I do the name change ceremony as well as crossing the equator initiation.

I was told that if you don't do the shellback ceremony, you're still a 'wog. Besides, what else are you going to do out there?

@rebel_heart - My "baby" was a 6'9" 400 pound 1st Class A-ganger when I crossed. I didn't think there was that much grease on board to cover that hairy expanse! But, not only was it fun and one of the most memorable moments of my sailing life, but I can say with complete confidence that Neptune got the respect he deserves.
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Old 25-06-2010, 23:16   #5
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I made a sacrifce crossing the equator but Nicolle swims fast and caught up.

The second crossing with her she locked herself below.

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Old 26-06-2010, 00:28   #6
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I generally placate my other self… you know…. the one who sits on your left shoulder and ask you if you secured that properly, or forgot some key spares, or did a last minute weather check.

I don’t know that Neptune fella, but maybe he doesn’t nag as much.....
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Old 26-06-2010, 02:05   #7
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We relaunched a yacht that we had rebuilt on a Friday. We found her on the hard, having survived a war by being sunk in the marina. All that was left of her (besides the hull) was the mast and the loo. Even the winches had gone. So, we took half a year and quite a few bottles of "Kuwaiti tea" to bribe the owners, the marina guys (ten years storage) and rebuild her from scratch. We even carried the winches back from Medemblik on the plane....

So, like I said, we relaunched her on a Friday. That very same day (did I mention it was a Friday), we put (edit: My HUSBAND put) the mast through the toilet. At least the mast survived. We had to get a new loo tho. And we've never relaunched a boat on a Friday since.
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Old 26-06-2010, 03:13   #8
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Should you Placate Neptune ?

If you don't ???????????????????++****!!!
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Old 26-06-2010, 04:50   #9
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Don't be silly. I would think that we have become educated and civilized enough to have outgrown such ignorant superstitions.

On the other hand, just in case, it doesn't hurt and who knows.
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Old 26-06-2010, 17:00   #10
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Some data points from RTW voyages I've been reading about. All of these people recorded passing the equator in their blogs, so if no ritual is mentioned I'm assuming none was done:

Jeanne Socrates: (two attempts at RTW non stop):
in 2008 crossed equator with no offering to Neptune: was shipwrecked 2 months later just before the end of the voyage.
In 2009 she did make an offering (cranberry juice), so far not shipwrecked (still underway) but she has had to pull in for repairs twice.

Abby Sunderland: no offering on crossing the equator, autopilot went haywire necessitatiing a stop for repairs, she then left Cape Town on a Friday and of course voyage ended not long after when she was dismasted in a storm.

Jessica Watson: offering of chocolate and dunked herself in seawater on the equator in the Pacific, good pacific weather and finished voyage unscathed and non-stop (though bad storm in the Atlantic, and more storms in southern ocean.)

Personally I think a small offering per ocean would be worth trying out on an experimental basis in addition to equatorial ones. If 50% of participants in the next RTW race could be persuaded to do a comprehensive set of rituals etc, whilst 50% refrain from doing any supertitious stuff at all, then the results could be analysed for statistical significance since the journeys would be comparable and there's be a decent sized data set.
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Old 26-06-2010, 17:24   #11
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I don't mean to be a downer about it, but it was commonly thought that the crew from Scandanavia were bad luck because they were wizards.
Being Scandinavian I can assure you it is Finns and not Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes Faroe Islanders and Icelanders.
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Old 26-06-2010, 21:22   #12
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In Pre-Christian Scandinavia Priests and missionaries were also regarded as bad luck on a voyage, and together with any Finn on board, were likely to be chucked overboard at the first sign of bad weather in order to placate Njord. Unless I am mistaken, such practices are generally frowned upon today.
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Old 26-06-2010, 22:13   #13
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Quite right, Astrid, 'twas the Finns that were anathema on board. I did not put a coin under the mainmast on my ketch and the vessel was beleaguered with bad luck. I left port [Neah Bay] on a Friday and was hit by one of the biggest storms of the season and wound up in Tofino instead of Monterey. Now it is true that I tend to be pretty scientific in my view of the world, but the facts are that there are many things in our universe that we know not. And my Celtic blood says these things are not altogether hogwash .... though I must apologize to the lovely Finn I used to spend time with ... and her very successful fishermen family ...
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Old 27-06-2010, 08:45   #14
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Logically it is nonsense, however......
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Old 27-06-2010, 21:32   #15
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About the only tradition I follow is a libation for Neptunus Rex. I usually pour a tot over the side when mixing the first round of the season. I've never been south of the equator yet, but I expect I will follow some sort of ceremony if I do manage to get that far south.

I think superstitions and traditions do have a place in our daily affairs, not because they are real in any sense of the word but because they keep our history alive in a small way.


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