Coins under the masts on ships




 
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May 19th, 2004  
Mark Conley
 
 

Topic: Coins under the masts on ships


It was (and still may be) a custom on ships (military and civil transport) that at the 30% construction stage, a coin is placed under or near the tallest structure of the ship. This custom dates all the way back to the ancient greeks, who dropped a coin in the mast well on their sailing ships.

The coin is used to pay Charon, the Ferry Man over the River Styx, to ferry the soul of any member of the crew that loses their life while on board that particular ship to Hades, the abode of the dead. Normally the coin is gold, but silver works too..Charon just wants his money.

I know they still do this at least when i was employed as a chipper at the shipyard in Pascagoula Mississippi. I was part of a team that permanently installed a coin beneath the Mast of the USS John Hancock. It had to be a new coin, that the sailors committee insisted.
May 19th, 2004  
Redleg
 
 
Interesting info, haven't heard about this before.
May 19th, 2004  
1217
 
I knew, and they still do it. I think I saw images of people putting two coins in the QE2. One English and one French. Don't think Charon will consider that to be much if that big thing ever goes down.......
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May 20th, 2004  
Nero
 
I vaguely remember hearing about this while I was in high school, but I didn't know they still did it. That's pretty cool, and a very long lasting tradition...
November 16th, 2004  
AussieNick
 
ah yes this tradition is still strong. It died out for a while apparently, but was brought back by pirates between 1600 and 1800, allegedly they were very superstitious people.
April 22nd, 2005  
Desert_Eagle
 
I knew the greeks put coins on the eyes of their dead, but I have heard very little about this tradition.
September 16th, 2009  
Spidermonkey
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert_Eagle
I knew the greeks put coins on the eyes of their dead, but I have heard very little about this tradition.
I thought that it was the irish that did that-putting coins on the eyes of the dead
October 16th, 2009  
captiva303
 
 
no it was definitely the Greeks to pay for the boat ride over the river Styx
to get into the after life

but that is not to say the Irish wouldn't do such a thing
November 2nd, 2009  
wolfen
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redleg
Interesting info, haven't heard about this before.
Its been a US Navy custom since the first ship was built, a carryover from the Greek mythology. Not too many peopel know about it because its not exactly made public since the US isn't exactly too keen on the whole superstition thing.
Just like when rats leave a ship, I'l be damed if I get on that ship cause its a sign that the ship is doomed.
November 5th, 2009  
John Lydon
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Conley
It was (and still may be) a custom on ships (military and civil transport) that at the 30% construction stage, a coin is placed under or near the tallest structure of the ship. This custom dates all the way back to the ancient greeks, who dropped a coin in the mast well on their sailing ships.

The coin is used to pay Charon, the Ferry Man over the River Styx, to ferry the soul of any member of the crew that loses their life while on board that particular ship to Hades, the abode of the dead. Normally the coin is gold, but silver works too..Charon just wants his money.
It's a good thing Mr. Charon isn't caught up in inflation. If it cost one coin back in the day, you would probably have to stick a couple hundred grand in the mast now!