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Old 15-12-2016, 19:26   #1
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Eyes on the bow of a boat

The eyes have it?

I gather that in many cultures, the bows of boats are adorned with ‘eyes’.
Here is some kind of explanation, a 202 page thesis by T.J. Nowak, that is if you prepared to read it all.
http://nautarch.tamu.edu/pdf-files/Nowak-MA2006.pdf

I have also added some photos of boats in Vietnam.Click image for larger version

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I invite others to post more photos, information, history, stories, myths etc. on this subject.
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Old 15-12-2016, 20:34   #2
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

I have read that they represent the "Eyes of Horus" or "Osiris" and are from Egyptian tradition, supposedly bringing good luck to the men on board, and I have also heard that they were from Phoenician vessels, supposedly to intimidate enemies in battle, but who knows? I have seen them in the Pacific as well, some cultures claim they scare sharks or bring the shark god to the vessel's aid or protection. Humans are odd creatures indeed...

I liken these traditions to the bowsprit lady, who watches over her crew and vessel with loving hand and disdain for any who would bring them harm, while representing the spirit within the wood of the sailing vessel's very hull.
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Old 15-12-2016, 20:56   #3
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

Some:


























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Old 15-12-2016, 21:18   #4
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

In this day of UV awareness do we also need to paint a pair of sunglasses on the bow?


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Old 16-12-2016, 00:36   #5
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

There were TWO genuine Mk1 Eyeballs on the bow of Andrew Shorts 80 footer on the night of ? C. 11th Oct 2009.
Racing as they approached Flinders Islet ( north of Port Kembla) the bowman, a gun, frantically screamed "bear away, bear away" but it was too late and PriceWaterhouseCoopers struck the island.
It was a moonless night, moderate seas and swell.
Short was the owner, skipper, helmsman, known risk taker (told to me by a fellow competitor) that night.
His chart plotter was apparently giving poor (1.2 to 1.4 or worse h.d.o.p's.... good is .6 to .8) all the way down from Sydney.
Anyway, Andrews boly was found clutching the wheel, the body of his navigator, Sally Gordon, another gun, was recovered too. Fortunately for his widow his sons were saved by fellow racers.
I am anything but superstitious, but the more eyeballs on the bow the better, I think.
Know what Matt? Before I cross Bass Strait in February I'm going to get a couple of EYE stickers for the sharp end. True story.
P.S. NOBODY on that vessel that night, including Andrews sons, were wearing life jackets.
Presumably a democratic boat.
Skipper culpable was suggested to me. Black night, racing and there was no 'life jacket' rule.
Thanks for listening all.
Lessons to be learnt, racing, cruising.....Natalie Wood, drowned, no life jacket !!
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Old 16-12-2016, 10:23   #6
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

Brian, I am with ya!

A couple pair of Mk1 Mod0 eyeballs on the bow and the cockpit make boating safer only if those key pieces of equipment are used.

Additionally, communication between the users is important, and most of all, the grey matter quotient comes into play, and must be considered when afloat.

If your vessel captain (presumably, YOU) is not mandating life jackets underway, or if you as a passenger or mate is not standing up and telling folks to don them, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT, you are not only taking your life into NOBODY's hands, but you are (in US waters) in violation of the law that was placed to protect you from yourself (because you are too proud or too obstinate to follow basic safety precautions without being forced to do so under ultimate threat of the point of a spear, or bullet if we are to be entirely frank about it). We don't like being told what to do, I get that.

I know, everyone hates when I bring this up, but even if your life is less than secure in the water at sea with a jacket, I would take a tossed board over nothing at all, in any sea state. Yes, part of being at sea is giving the proverbial moon to the authorities for many, and I get that, too. I even subscribe to it at times. When you take that as your own approach and leave the float coat in a locker, that is your business I suppose.

HOWEVER, when someone else is in your care (i.e. they are on a vessel under your command) you OWE IT TO THEM to ensure that they are more protected than you are or in my frank opinion, you are a very poor captain and unworthy of the title or honor of position. I don't care if you go out alone, but please do not take ANYONE else out with you, especially anyone who is less able to fend off sharks or the sea than you believe yourself to be. Such a captain has no right to allow someone else in their charge to die simply because the captain or the passenger was too proud or uncomfortable to wear protective gear underway. With today's options, the wearer does not even have to be uncomfortable, anyway.

Grey matter will more often than not keep you alive when tech fails, if you just use it. That use could be as simple as wearing a vest, staying in better weather when able, and learning your vessel's traits under controlled (and THEN less controlled) conditions before heading out. Using common sense to secure internal items and those on deck. Properly stowing lines and ropes, fenders, etc. Keeping windows clean and canvas in good repair, ground tackle maintained, rode in good inspection state. Briefing the crew before an outing, even if you have been together before. Getting briefed BY the crew can be a useful exercise and ensures that everyone knows the drill, even if they already said they did (intentionally falsely or not, if it gets bad you may not have time to teach on the fly).
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Old 16-12-2016, 10:43   #7
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

Love this - so many memories. People vary widely but not wildly - I've seen painted eyes in Formosa, Okinawa, Solomon islands and Saigon. I think it makes sense if you're going to personalize a boat - eyes up front and not at the arse!
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Old 16-12-2016, 11:48   #8
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

I hate to say "I read..." but there you go, I read that eyes are painted on so that the boat can keep an eye out of weather, sea state etc. She will guide you in when needed.
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Old 16-12-2016, 12:01   #9
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

Taxis in Muslim countries have them too. That way they don't need to put their headlights on. True!!

In Egypt it was so bad I refused to get into a taxi at night before I a) bartered the fair, b) bartered the fact he was going to use headlights of he would get no money. The arguments were legendary!!!
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Old 16-12-2016, 15:44   #10
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingFan View Post
Brian, I am with ya!

A couple pair of Mk1 Mod0 eyeballs on the bow and the cockpit make boating safer only if those key pieces of equipment are used.

Additionally, communication between the users is important, and most of all, the grey matter quotient comes into play, and must be considered when afloat.

If your vessel captain (presumably, YOU) is not mandating life jackets underway, or if you as a passenger or mate is not standing up and telling folks to don them, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT, you are not only taking your life into NOBODY's hands, but you are (in US waters) in violation of the law that was placed to protect you from yourself (because you are too proud or too obstinate to follow basic safety precautions without being forced to do so under ultimate threat of the point of a spear, or bullet if we are to be entirely frank about it). We don't like being told what to do, I get that.

I know, everyone hates when I bring this up, but even if your life is less than secure in the water at sea with a jacket, I would take a tossed board over nothing at all, in any sea state. Yes, part of being at sea is giving the proverbial moon to the authorities for many, and I get that, too. I even subscribe to it at times. When you take that as your own approach and leave the float coat in a locker, that is your business I suppose.

HOWEVER, when someone else is in your care (i.e. they are on a vessel under your command) you OWE IT TO THEM to ensure that they are more protected than you are or in my frank opinion, you are a very poor captain and unworthy of the title or honor of position. I don't care if you go out alone, but please do not take ANYONE else out with you, especially anyone who is less able to fend off sharks or the sea than you believe yourself to be. Such a captain has no right to allow someone else in their charge to die simply because the captain or the passenger was too proud or uncomfortable to wear protective gear underway. With today's options, the wearer does not even have to be uncomfortable, anyway.

Grey matter will more often than not keep you alive when tech fails, if you just use it. That use could be as simple as wearing a vest, staying in better weather when able, and learning your vessel's traits under controlled (and THEN less controlled) conditions before heading out. Using common sense to secure internal items and those on deck. Properly stowing lines and ropes, fenders, etc. Keeping windows clean and canvas in good repair, ground tackle maintained, rode in good inspection state. Briefing the crew before an outing, even if you have been together before. Getting briefed BY the crew can be a useful exercise and ensures that everyone knows the drill, even if they already said they did (intentionally falsely or not, if it gets bad you may not have time to teach on the fly).
Sailing fan, that post of yours was one of the most poignant, careing and useful posts aI've ever read. Some people do it to "grand stand" "silverback chest thumping", but not yours.
On New Years Eve on Sydney harbour I'll have 3 guests from a developing country on board for the fireworks. And your post will be in my mind and lives could be saved.
Naturally, I'll have bought them each a manually inflating vest. AND I'll have the poorest swimmer pull the cord to demonstrate exactly what happens and how to do it. Then re-arm the vest.
Good on you Sailing fan.
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Old 17-12-2016, 02:19   #11
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

SailingFan, I liked that the eyes protects from sharks and evils, and I can imagine the eyes can be intimidating for enemies in battle, similar to the eyes on the wings of butterflies?

Polux, thank you the many great photos.

Gilow, thank you for considering the effects of ozone layer(s) and the like, but no, having sunnies on permanently would not be good at nighttime when vision is even more important, therefore if you are concerned can I suggest flip-on/off shades? As per photo?


And to others: indeed it seems, that eyes on the bow are an extra set for protection. They may be a placebo, or not, it all depends on one's belief system I guess.


Regarding lifejackets, thanks Brian and SailingFan.
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Old 18-12-2016, 01:58   #12
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

Besides the eyes on the bow, another superstition is devils attaching themselves to a boat's stern. As time passes more and more devils form a long chain bringing bad luck and misfortune. The only way to expel the devils is to closely cut across another boat's bow cutting their chain of devils and adding them to the other boat's load of devils.
They like to overtake a slower boat/ship and when their stern is past the your bow, suddenly cross in front. Or when in front of a faster vessel, get in the same off the bow position and cut across. Years ago, entering a busy Asian port on a destroyer, after dodging dozens of fishing boats, one made a misstep and cut too close. We ended up rescuing the crew.
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Old 18-12-2016, 21:31   #13
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
.......The only way to expel the devils is to closely cut across another boat's bow cutting their chain of devils and adding them to the other boat's load of devils.......
Hmmm, it then pays to come first in any race!

Dragon boats also have eyes, and the website of a Dragon boat squadron in my old home town explains how the eyes should be painted on it, quite a ceremony! Particularly the last step: eating a roast pig appeals to me.
https://forzadbc.org.au/about/traditions/

photo borrowed from above site, showing the local inlet
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Old 18-12-2016, 23:12   #14
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Re: Eyes on the bow of a boat

Re cutting off the other boats, I wonder if that got started when folks started seeing bio-luminescence in their wakes? It seems possible that seeing the plankton and shrimp/etc. fluttering about in the wake at night may have scared the bejesus out of some ancient mariner...??
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