Calling all Trusty Shellbacks!!

Ok, I understand that when they first cross the equator, lowly polliwogs are called before the Royal Court of King Neptune, made to kiss the Royal Baby, and are otherwise inducted into Trusty Shellbackdom.

Is there a similar ceremony for crossing the International Date Line?

Ranger Jeff
The Idol of American Youth

Always drink* upstream * from the herd.

I’ve never heard of a ceremony for crossing the IDL, but there is a horrendous one called “bluenosing” whenever the Arctic circle is crossed…

Trusty ShellBack since 1987
Hail King Neptune

there is no cerimony for the IDL. I did get 2 beers for 53 daze straight at sea. On Christmas even. Made a beautiful shirt…“yo ho ho, merry Xmas”

P.S. It’s CRUSTY shellback. Slimmy Wogs and Crusty Shellbacks there Slimmy…

L8, E~


Now I remember!!! :slight_smile:

What in the name of all that is holy are you guys TALKING about?!

Cave Diem! Carpe Canem!

In order to avoid pissing off Neptune, whenever you cross the equator (in a ship, I don’t think you need to if you fly over it) you have to be ‘cleansed’ and request permission from Neptune and the Royal Court, including his scribe Davy Jones. This involves a ‘rite of passage’ that can include a lot of things, but do include kissing the royal baby. More specific than that, we Shellbacks are forbidden to divulge. There is also a similar thing for crossing the Arctic Circle and for wintering over in Antarctica. After completing the ritual, we receive a nice certificate and a wallet card and are expected to participate in cleansing the ship of pollywogs (those who have not yet been cleansed and crossed the equator before). This is a VERY old tradition, not restricted to the US Navy.

It was a bit more severe in the old days, but newer regulations have toned it down a bit.

Woe to the Pollywog! Fear the hand that wields the mighty shillelagh!

Just a point. Shouldn’t you kiss the royal babies’ belly?

Of course, you’re correct, Doug.

I don’t think I want to ask about any Royal Baby Kissing when you cross the Actic Circle.

Ranger Jeff
The Idol of American Youth

Always drink* upstream * from the herd.

Bad news for you old salts – the Crossing the Equator ceremony is often no longer done. My husband (who crossed on his first cruise in 1977) did mostly Med cruises for the next 10 years and didn’t cross again until 1997. He was excited about crossing again because he expected to be the oldest Shellback aboard (well, not the oldest, just the one who had been Shellback longest) – consequently he would have been King Neptune. But the Captain chose not to have a ceremony. My guess is that too many mommies have written their congresspeople about the mean old Navy pickin’ on their 'iddle, bitty sailors. But, we thought it was a damn shame.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

I guess you landlubbers have never met a “knight of the Golden Dragon”

Shiver my timbers and all that other landlubber talk-----"at’s what you become when you sail across the IDL


Knight of The Golden Dragon? Can you tell more, please?

I thought there was somthing.

Ranger Jeff
The Idol of American Youth

Always drink* upstream * from the herd.


But the Captain chose not to have a ceremony.

Isn’t there supposed to be a “mutiny”?
How much you want to bet the captain was a wog?

Haowdy Ranger!

Up to, and during, the second big one [ww2] any one crossing the IDL became a knight.

There was no induction [hazing]—just recognition for having had a great deal of ‘blue seas under’.

Like so many of the old traditions it was lost off the fantail a long time ago.

The shellback and knight stuff waned during the war-----with thousands of people entering distant waters on hundreds of ships the practice faded.

The shellback ritual on merchantmen and travel-liners never reached the idiotic proportions achieved on the navy ships of the line-----but then we’ve pretty much eliminated fraternity hazing also.

All for the better I might add.

So-----with a stiff breeze and full sheets I’m homeward bound

In William Poundstone’s book Biggest Secrets (Poundstone should be sending me a cut of the royalties for all the times I’ve mentioned this trilogy in my posts) he gives a detailed history of the equator crossing ritual, and the standard routine involved. It doesn’t sound like something that I would want to be involved with. Sometimes mock (sometimes actual) sodomy and falatio is involved.

It’s been banned by almost all seafaring organizations, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still take place. My guess is that it is very rare on passenger vessels, where someone is more likely to spill the beans when they get back. On the other hand, I expect it still happens on military and freight vessels.

“The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life.” -George Carlin

I found a description of a typical line-crossing ceremony, if anyone is interested:

“For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes” - Francis Bacon

On MTV’s Road Rules this season, they will show some sort of this ritual, but I don’t know how accurate or depictive it will be. What I know of the ritual comes from the aforementioned Biggest Secrets book.