Ducking and shaving

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Ducking and shaving was the practice of shaving new seamen and ducking them in the sea the first time they cross the Tropic of Cancer. The custom, common on 18th-century British sailing vessels, involved tying a rope around the man and dunking him in the sea three times from the main yard. Sailors could pay a fine to escape the rite of passage, but most accepted it, many enthusiastically.

At other times, ducking was used as a punishment similar to keelhauling.


A Slaving Voyage to Africa and Jamaica: The log of the Sandown, 1793-1794, edited by Bruce L Mouser, Indiana University Press, 2002, page 31