400 years of equator hazings, and how I survived one


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/25/400-years-of-equator-hazings.html


I went through a horrific and old timey crossing the line ceremony about 25 years ago. I remember that the worst of it was crawling through a trough of rotten garbage and such, which simulated a pass through Neptune’s gastrointestinal tract I remember after the ceremony, I crawled, retching, on my hands and knees to the nearest fire station, where I turned the salt water on myself. I can still taste it. It was beyond horror, and I am glad I went through it.


Hazing is such male bullshit. ‘Rituals and tradition’ indeed.


I thought the hazing was for crossing the international date line?

I guess it’s both. Or as many excuses to haze people they can think of.


According to Montague-Browne, Churchill responded: “I never said it. I wish I had.”



The Ancient Order of the Deep for maritime personnel who have crossed the Equator
The Order of the Blue Nose for maritime personnel who have crossed the Arctic Circle.
The Order of the Red Nose for maritime personnel who have crossed the Antarctic Circle.
The Imperial Order of the Golden Dragon for maritime personnel who have crossed the International Date Line.
The Sacred Order Of The Golden Dragon for maritime personnel who have crossed at the same time Lat. 00-000°, Long. 180.00°
The Order of the Ditch for maritime personnel who have passed through the Panama Canal.
The Magellan’s Strait Jacket Club for all maritime personnel who transited the Straits of Magellan.
The Order of the Rock for maritime personnel who have transited the Strait of Gibraltar.
The Safari to Suez for maritime personnel who have passed through the Suez Canal.
The Golden Shellback for maritime personnel who have crossed the point where the Equator crosses the International Date Line.
The Order of the Sand Squid for maritime personnel who have been attached to army units or stationed in the Middle East.
The Emerald Shellback or Royal Diamond Shellback for maritime personnel who cross at 0 degrees off West Africa (where the Equator crosses the prime meridian)
The Realm of the Czars for maritime personnel who crossed into the Black Sea.
The Order of Magellan for maritime personnel who circumnavigated the Earth.
The Order of the Lakes for maritime personnel who have sailed on all five Great Lakes.
The Order of the Spanish Main for maritime personnel who have sailed in the Caribbean.
The Order of the Sparrow for maritime personnel who sailed on all 7 seas. (North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian, Arctic, Antarctic Oceans)
The Order of the Ebony Shellback for maritime personnel who have crossed the Equator on Lake Victoria.
The Royal Order of Purple Porpoises for maritime personnel who crossed the junction of the Equator and the International Date Line at the Sacred Hour of the Vernal Equinox.


LOL, bit surprised that they went all out for a research vessel. I thought it was more of a bored Navy thing. I am sure my dad and brother went through it.

The closest thing I did to that was go on this big canoe trip where the new people were all thrown into the river when first arriving. I just ran from them and threw myself in.


I would say “no.”


I have done at least half of those, but never knew that more than a handful are significant enough to have a name.


Thank god international flights are too short to foment these inanities.


Sailors must get so very bored.



I’m in an HBCU sorority.

I actually pledged and crossed “the Burning Sands.”

It ain’t just males.


Nice article! I never partook in hazing, and had the impression that it was purely meanhearted, and it is interesting to see that there might be more to it, at least at times.


Really it wasn’t that a big of a deal. I became a shellback in 1966. First was attacked with shaving cream. then got my hair snipped with an office scissors (when I had hair), ran the gauntlet being hit with cut pieces of firehouses. (Stung some) Had a fire hose turned on me. Had to pay homage to King Neptune and his queen. Had to kiss the royal baby’s belly (exposed belly of fattest guy on board ship) with fake vomit on it and then was forced to dive into a tank of water. The worst results was having to look in the mirror for a few weeks until I could get a decent hair cut. No one who was a polly wog was spared and so my joy came watching some officers being hazed in the same way. No one was injured, no one got more punishment than anyone else. Sure it’s typical male bullshit but it was fun!.


Went through this in 1983 on the Belleau Wood as an embarked Marine. As an officer, it was a chance for my troops to have some fun since a lot of them had done it before. But I also remember my guys telling other shellbacks (especially the Navy one) to stay away from me. If you are on ship it is to be expected when you cross the line. And as far as being bored: yup, it is boring at sea during long passages. This is more of a celebration than hazing and a great break in routine.
You can scoff and say the ritual is outdated, sexist and inhumane, but it does bond you together especially in a military unit.
I have two certificates and both proudly hang on my office wall.
And by the way, my sister-in-law went through it in the 1970’s on an around the world study voyage on a cruise ship.
Her experience was much less messy than mine…


I had never ever been hazed until this June at the age of 62 on a tall ship [barkeuropa.com] north of Ascension Island. As a retired meteorologist/oceanographer I was punished for being too idle to fill in the weather log by being showered with simulated rain (from the fire hose), snow (rice), hail (ice cubes) etc. The menu included well-fermented flying fish …


… “pollywog” appears to mean tadpole [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polliwog_(disambiguation)], which seems appropriate …


My bucket list just got an item longer.


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