Ocean College

From the Blog

The ceremony of the dead horse

Date: 14th November 2019
Author: Angelina
Position: On our way to the Cape Verdes
Geographical Position: 21°42.2N/ 021°22.0W
Etmal: 159 nm

It all started around 300 years ago; in the days of the old sailormen: if the sailors were in port for a long time, they had no money left because they would spend it all at once. So they had to look for work again on another sailing ship on which the captain gave 30 days advance of pay. That´s called taking the dead horse. The reason why it´s called like that is lost in time.

Those 30 days for which the sailors already got paid were very hard and the Captain, the Bosun and all the other people in command made the crew work very hard; they were hazing the crew. 

(One month a hell-bent life we´ve led, but ye’ve laid in a nice warm bed)

After that month the debt was payed back though and the captain had to start paying wages again. The crew that was hazed before did a ceremony then, which became a tradition.

(After hard hard work an´sore abuse, we´ll salt ye down for a sailors use)

Burying the horse

They made a model of a horse with whatever they had got on board, such as old sailor’s cloths, paraded around the deck three times with that horse while singing the Shanty ´The dead horse´. Then they hoist him up to the yard and the youngest member of the crew would climb up the mast and cut the rope so that the horse would fall into the sea. This is called burying the horse; the horse is dead so the debt is payed.

(They say, ´Ol´ Man, yer horse will die, an´we sa so, an´ we hope so!)

Building the Horse

You´ve probably already asked yourself what all of this has to do with us? Well, it´s 30 days ago since we started sailing on the Pelican of London, which is probably the only ship that keeps the tradition of the ceremony of the dead horse up.

So each watch built their own horse out of everything they could find on board the last few days and put a lot of effort but also laughter in it. We gave the horses names and today, finally, the youngest member of each watch cut the rope on the yard to which the horses were hoisted up after we walked around the deck three times, singing the Shanty.

The horses fell into the sea, but of course we pulled them back on board with another rope so we won´t pollute the ocean.

(They say, ´Ol´ Man, yer horse will die, oh, poor ´ol´man!)

P.S:  Alles, alles gute zum Geburtstag Samira. Vermisse dich 

~Marlene M.

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