the navy and tattoos

Okay, so a friend of a friend gets this anchor tattoo, right?  And she’s in the Navy and all, so I’m like, cool, Navy tattoo, alright.  Then I find out she’s got a swallow.  She’s been in for like two years.  And has never been to sea.  A swallow.  For those of you that don’t know, the swallow tattoo is a Navy thing that civilians thought was cool and stole.  Civilians with swallow tattoos bug me, but it’s really not that big of a deal because they don’t really know the meaning behind it, so I just chalk it up to “oh you’re such a cute little civilian, you think you know what you’re talking about :)”.  But, if you’re in the Navy, and you get all these tattoos, you might want to know what they mean before you start thinking you’re Joe Fucking Cool…

Swallows:  Initially, Sailors got swallows before they went out to sea, because swallows always come home; nowadays, one swallow means you’ve sailed 5,000 miles, and two means 10,000.  There’s a ton of hoopla about “flying fists” and other dumb stuff, but in the US Navy, it means you’ve done some time at sea.

Anchors:  Depending on the way it’s done, it can mean a Boatswain’s Mate (it’s their rating badge) a Chief (it’s their rank symbol) or, the original meaning, that you’ve sailed across the Atlantic.  There’s also ties to the Christian Church, however, so this one is kind of iffy.  But it’s pretty much understood that if you’re in the Navy and you have an anchor tattoo, you’re either a Boats, a Chief, or you’ve at least gone underway at some point…

Dragons:  Means you’ve served in the Far East.  There’s a ton of people with dragon tattoos, and I totally wouldn’t rag on someone for having one, because they’re everywhere, and the Navy stole it from the Asians they met there, so this one is less of a big deal whether you’re in or out.  Again, the style has something to do with it as well.

Pig and Rooster:  Probably one of my personal favorites, the pig and rooster tattoos would be applied one on each leg (sometimes on the knee, sometimes the foot) to keep a sailor afloat.  Back in the day, when live roosters and pigs would be shipped overseas in wooden crates, they were often the only remains left of a shipwreck, so it was believed the tattoo would help you stay afloat and get to land if the ship went down.  If you have this tattoo and you’re not on sea duty in the Navy, or at least a hardcore mariner, you’re an idiot.

“Hold Fast” and/or Rope:  It’s a deckhand thing.  Helps you hold the rope, show people your profession, yada yada, not a whole lot of people get these anymore, and if I saw someone with “HOLD FAST” across his knuckles, unless he was an old, salty-ass Chief, I would laugh my ass off and probably die laughing.

Jolly Roger:  You know, the black flag with the skull and crossbones?  Well, usually it’s a pirate thing, but I heard once a while ago that it was a symbol for getting in trouble and going to Captain’s Mast.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t really want to advertize that shit.  Unless you’re one of my former Commanding Officers (who shall remain nameless) who kept black anchors on this ship to show what a badass he was for not getting fired during an official inquiry – you go, Cap!

Full-Rigged Ship:  You’ve sailed around Cape Horn.  Back in the day, when ships were actually powered by wind, you were also allowed to get a blue star on your ear, and if you did it five times, you could get one on your other ear, because it was that badass to do it and survive that many times.  Nowadays though, a lot of people have full-rigged ships, but most of them were, actually, in the Navy at some point.

Mermaid:  Ahhh, the mermaid, everyone gets mermaids now, so it’s kind of the same situation as the dragon tattoo, but Sailors would get these cuz, hey, it’s porn you can’t lose.  There’s also some linkage to the draw of the sea (“homeward bound, seaward drawn” type thing)  These were really popular back in the day, and when the Navy banned nudity on the pin-up tattoos, they actually created a huge revenue for the tattoo artists because Sailors went back in droves to get little shell and starfish bikini tops added on in order to be in regs.  Ask any tattoo artist that knows his history, and he’ll probably chuckle a bit.

Hula Girl:  Similar to the mermaid, they’re sexy to look at, but it also means that you’ve been to Hawaii, nowadays I would say it means you’ve beenstationed in Hawaii, cuz let’s face it, it’s not nearly as hard to get there today as it was in the 1600-1700’s, so there you go.

Shellback Tattoos:  Those of us that have been through Wog Day never want to go through that shit again.  It’s embarrassing, you’re basically getting IT’d all day, and you’re in so much salt water that you’re pretty much a raisin for the next week and about 17 layers of skin will peel off of you.  In the “kinder, gentler Navy” Wog Day is nothing like it was, we’re not allowed to make you crawl through garbage, or beat you up, or tie you down for hours and torture you.  But it still sucks.  So what some Sailors do is tattoo the date, time, and coordinates of their Shellback initiation on their lower leg, so come Wog Day when the Shellbacks would tear into berthing at 3am ripping people out of their racks and telling everyone to “show a leg” you would literally “show a leg” and prove that you’d already done it, so they’d leave you alone.  Ahhhh, Navy tradition! :)

Nautical Stars:  These can be five- or six-pointed, and usually have a light side and a dark side, it’s unanimous that they originated with sailors, but there’s so much debate over where and when and why and all that, but the two meanings I really think are the most authentic are these:  Sailors used to navigate by the stars, using a compass.  There you go.  Covers them both.  Musicians use these symbols as well (usually five-pointed) but that’s mostly because of Sailor Jerry and how everyone thinks it’s cool to get old school sailor tattoos (I can’t blame them, they are pretty fuckin’ awesome).

The Rose:  HA!  Bet you didn’t know that rose tattoos got their start in the Navy, didja???  Well, it’s true, they got popular when Sailors would tattoo a rose on themselves to honor their wife or girlfriend they left behind (well, it was a nice gesture anyways, we all know the rumors about sailor infidelity, I can neither confirm nor deny the purity of any actions of my shipmates while overseas, and there’s even a term for the wives left at home here in San Diego – WESTPAC Widows).

And then there’s all the rate, rank, flag, eagle, etc stuff that is self-explanatory, or is quite simply an obvious military tattoo, the first two you should definitelyonly have if you’ve served, otherwise I’d say that borders on impersonating a member of the armed forces, or at least being a major poser.  And I think any patriotic American that likes tattoos would get a bald eagle and an American flag, you don’t have to be in the military to have it.  But let me just say, if you want to get a tattoo, awesome, but please don’t be that guy that gets it only because it “looks cool” without doing your research, tattoo’s mean stuff, in tribal societies they’re literally magical, don’t shit on them like Russel Brand’s character from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go watch the movie right now, because it’s awesome).  I don’t have any Navy tattoos yet, and you want to know why?  I don’t know exactly how I want them done, I want to make sure they’re perfect because I want to make sure I don’t regret them, just like my other five.  I thought long and hard before I got mine, because, especially as a chick, I don’t want to look at them when I’m 40 or 50 and be like “oh… why did I do that… Crap.”  So THINK before you INK, and now maybe you’ll even have new respect for that salty dog in the corner of the bar with all the Navy tattoos, because now you know what they mean :)

Also, if there’s other types of Navy tattoos that I’m forgetting (and I’m sure I am, I didn’t spend days researching this, you know) put them here, and what they mean, thanks!

49 thoughts on “the navy and tattoos

  1. Cory says:

    Good stuff. 21 years and now retired. Looking to get some tattoos to remember my time of service and this has given me some good ideas. Thanks

  2. Bigmikedollarbillz says:

    You act as though no one from outside your gay little navy clique are allowed to get these tattoos, eat my 8 inch cock faggot i got all these and never served a day in my life, infact, i hate the navy, all you cocksuckers and gayboys packed onto a ship for 10 months of the year. Suck my dick fagots!. you are the real idiots, i didnt even have to serve to get these tattoos, enjoy wasting ur life whilst im fucking ur wife u left alone! HAHAHA

    • illnevertell says:

      See, you are the loser wannabe that I was referring to. You’re a poser and a moron, you’re not fucking a damn thing except your hand, I’m sure, and in case you still haven’t figured it out, I’M A GIRL. So you can make fun of “Navy fags” all you want, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve got tattoos that originated with those men, so who’s the real douchebag here? You may think you’re cool for having symbolic tattoos and not serving, but the rest of us know you’re a total toolbag and are totally not worth going to Mast for if we make the first move. So take the first swing at a Sailor motherfucker, I dare you :)

    • Norman Rockwell says:

      youre giving the impression that you had served with those poor excuses you have on your skin. later you will be asked about your tats. you tell them no and everyone will think youre some faggot poser who did jack shit to earn that prerogative.
      eat shit motherfucker

    • Dexter Garcia says:

      Really Bro? Eat your 8in dick? And we are the faggots huh? Stuck on a ship for 10 months, so ignorant motherfuckers like you can write these dumb little comments. Its not like we weren’t the first ones called to Syria. Now we have some little boy, making cracks at people defending his rights. I hope your tattoo artist used dirty needles. And I’m glad you didn’t join. The navy is that much better, because you didn’t. Stay your ass home, and continue to do nothing with your life. Hopefully you don’t curse this country with any kids.

    • ukulelemaggee says:

      Why would you say this? Where is your patriotism? They go out and fight for our country so you can stay here with your pessimistic arrogant remarks. With all due respects keep your damn comments to yourself.

    • JOHN says:

      Hey “bigmike” as a former US Navy Corpsman WITH THE 2ND MARDIV, let me be the first to invite you to go fuck that whore mother of yours. You like to throw the word “faggot” around, and yet several times in your horse shit post you’re inviting men to suck your “8” dick” which as you know all too well, is more like 1-1.5 inches at full mast. So, in closing, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that your queer bait father knocked that whore mother of yours up behind a dumpster at some gay bar. Not because he thought she was “special” it was because she looked more like a fucking man than a woman. Listen up pussy, you’re a fucking coward that never had the balls to lace up a pair of boots and sign the papers. Even if you had, you would never get in because clearly your intelligence ends at “101 ways to blow every guy at a glory hole party” ( papa would be proud I’m sure) anyway, eat shit faggot.

    • mike says:

      not all of us are on ships and your an ass hole for even calling a military member a faggot you should be ashamed of your fucking self and for my self i have at least 9 tats brother starting from my medical emblem, pig and rooster, anchor, heart with mom in the center with the arrow going through, pin up in the martini glass, and my sparrow i earned each one and im proud of them

    • Thomas Kerr says:

      Scottish ex royal Navy retiree here you deviant, lying piece of effluence ( oh I am using English here, you will struggle with that ) I object to your demeaning of my American colleagues and wonder if you are prepared to be that mouthy with a 55 year old ex RMC. Hint for you fantasist, regardless WHO you think you are, at my age I would STILL dismantle you. Learn some respect, internet hard man, before someone teacjhes you the hard way.

      illnevertell…very interesting article, thank you!

    • Edward says:

      Get over yourself, dude.

  3. Skeet says:

    Illnevertell, damn good read. I’m a BM1 in the Navy and have a “few” tattoos that I have earned. Ole dollarbillz is entitled to his opinion, after all we Sailors are willing to die for his right of freedom of speech….however. If a Sailor fucked yer Mom, sister, or girlfriend or possibly kicked u or yer ole mans ass I can see why u hold a grudge. Thanks for the read, fair winds and following seas.

  4. What a laugh here is a woman in the navy talking about traditional tattoos. You forget that traditionally clothed woman were and still are considered bad luck on board a ship. Ancient superstitions don’t change in accordance with woman’s newly found liberties. Get out of this sheltered employment trance you’re entangled in and get a real job. Never forget that you are a public servant that gets paid to do a job through “Civilian” tax money. You don’t own any claim to any symbol so you can kiss my swallow tattoos.

    • illnevertell says:

      Your misogyny is unfortunate, but you’re obviously welcome to your opinion. I would ask that you not judge or form an opinion about those who serve in the military unless you yourself have actually served, because you CLEARLY don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. (Please see my other post about forming opinions without knowing a thing about the subject.) FYI: I’m no longer in the military, military members also pay taxes, and I would like to point out the irony of your attack and your disrespect of a Navy veteran on Veteran’s Day weekend. You bring the term “douchebag” to a whole new level!

      Looks like I have more balls than you do, at least I served. What have you done for God and country today?

    • Dover says:

      Well I don’t know about my fellow American salts, but here in the UK there is certainly documented history to prove that women in fact did serve at sea back in the 18th and 19th century and several were commemorated at the battle of Trafalgar. During battle they would assist the surgeon down in the belly of the ship in giving what little comfort and first aid they could. Either way they did serve, albeit not officially, although on some ships they were listed among the ships itinerary. Some women even disguised themselves as men and served in battle with distinction, see Hanna Snell who posed as a man in the Royal Marines, after deserting the army. Research is the key here, and many people like to give their opinions without doing any. The upshot of this? Your talking shit.

      • Dover says:

        By the way I’m ex Royal Navy and not American Navy so not sure if my above opinion counts, but I thought I’d throw my oar in.

      • illnevertell says:

        Hey, a sailor’s a sailor! Thank you for your service, and for the great history lesson! I’d never heard of Hanna Snell before now, very cool!

  5. SailorTilliDie says:

    From one sailor to another, I would like to thank you for this post, it was enlightening. I was unaware of the roster and pig tat’s on the legs meaning. Don’t let the hater’s drag you under, the ignorant are going to hate what they cannot understand.

  6. Anthony says:

    Great article, you did a wonderful job of showing the origin of tattoo symbols. I think the American Traditional style of tattooing is among the best in the world. These symbols look great and because of their meanings they hold significance. I do, however, think that symbols are just that, symbols. They represent a deeper meaning.

    I will speak for myself because there won’t be any speculation done on my part. I did not “earn” my hula girl, anchor, or swallows by navy standards. I picked to wear these symbols because of what they represent to me. My grandfather was a merchant marine and lived in Hawaii, my faith is my anchor, and I may not have traveled 10,000 miles at sea but the hard times and personal journey are not absent from my life. My point is symbols may have an origin but that does not mean that they were picked for that reason. That symbol may remind or “symbolize” something different for others.

    • illnevertell says:

      Hey, that’s great that you really took the time to choose pieces that mean something to you, I wish more people would do that.

      That being said, considering you aren’t a sailor, the swallows aren’t a big deal to me, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was pretty pissed when some chick with about five seconds in the Navy started getting all these tattoos (that had ZERO personal meaning). Like the idiot that commented above (bigmike), I don’t like people that get ink simply to show it off and look cool. Regardless of the origin of the piece, they give you a special feeling to have them, and that should be enough for anyone :)

  7. Garrett says:

    Love the article!!! I’m also a sailor but I work on the aviation side. I sadly have yet to do my sea time but I’m sure I’ll get there. I was actually thinking about getting the swallow and the pig/rooster tattoos before and after I took my first deployment and I was poking around to make sure I had the meanings correct and you definitely made certain tattoos clear. So thank you for the info.

  8. Sumner says:

    I started sailing at 9 years of age and I’m 49 next month. I have over 30,000 sea mile under my keel, many of them singled handed aboard a sailboat not a USN ship. I have many of these tattoos and have earned them. Your arrogance that only Navy seaman are worthy to have these tattoos is insulting. I’m always learning but I’ll match my seamanship to any Navy sailor.
    To head off any remarks to a term of service and the balls to lace up a pair of boots I served 6 years 101st Air Assault, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 2nd Brigade.

    To add to your list of tats, there is one that does belong to solely to Navy/Merchant Marines, is the “twin propellers” (1 on each cheek) to prevent from drowning, as they were meant to ‘propel’ you ashore.
    There is also a golden shellback the difference between the two is that they have crossed the equator at the international date line (00.00 N and 00.00 E)

    • illnevertell says:

      You know, if you had actually READ my post, you would know that I mention non-Navy mariners, so calm your tits, man. I never claimed that this was an all-inclusive list, I even specifically requested that people post about ones I missed. Thanks for the post about propellers, but I’m not sure why you decided to throw Golden Shellbacks in there. That’s not a specific tattoo, it’s just a separate term to denote the 0 latitude. You’re trying awfully hard to be pissy about something I never even claimed.

      • Sumner says:

        I have read your post and my reason for calling you arrogant is this comment, “if I saw someone with “HOLD FAST” across his knuckles, unless he was an old, salty-ass Chief, I would laugh my ass off and probably die laughing.” I admit arrogant is incorrect, hypocrite is more accurate.
        I have this tattoo and anyone who goes forward to sort out a sail in heavy weather should have this phrase foremost in the their mind. I have gone out on a 12 foot bowsprit because the downhaul had not been connected properly, I had one hand on the forestay one eye/hand on handling the sail the other eye on the next swell and my legs wrapped around the bowsprit as the bowsprit would pierce the top of the next wave as the ship fell off into the trough. I have gone up the rigging in a storm to retrieve a halyard for the mainsail. Both of these experiences I was trying to hanging on with any and every part of my body including my eyelashes. So this tattoo has real meaning for me and would also to many others who had done the same things I have.

        So take your own advice to “not form an opinion about someone” especially with a tattoo you deem has particularly significance before you know that person.

        I added the tattoos because of your request not to criticize what you have compiled.
        I believe in tradition and want an anchor tattoo but I would never get a fouled anchor because of the tradition of it representing the rank of a Chief Petty Officer. I am reluctant to get crossed anchors as I don’t consider myself a master of seamanship or “bosun’s mates”
        Also forgot to add shark tattoos as they have been a long tradition among sailors to have as proof you are not afraid of death at sea & for protection from being eaten by one.
        I mentioned the golden shellback because crossing the golden X is significant. And I have met a guy who has a golden turtle tattoo with the date of his crossing. But this is your list and it is up to you

      • illnevertell says:

        Fine, I grant you that as a “sailboat sailor,” “HOLD FAST,” is more applicable, but I have to say, you probably shouldn’t call someone arrogant and then follow it up with an egotistical story like that. Not that I don’t believe you, I’ve sailed in rough weather too, your kind of sailing, even, and I know how hard it is, but come on, man, you’re not impressing anyone.

        Also, if you’re going to insult me and call me names, I don’t see why you would want to try to add to my post, you clearly don’t agree with it, so forgive me if I wasn’t totally excited and eager to add your additions. I recommend that you “sail on,” because this clearly isn’t the post for you.

    • Thomas Kerr says:

      Sumner, why are you being so rude and defensive here? You APPEAR to have a problem with the fact you are a pleasure sailor as opposed to a navy man? Why? Also, as you CLAIM to have military experience, why so beligerant to a fellow countryman and service person?

  9. Jake says:

    Shellback tattoos were originally reserved for sailors who had crossed the equator. Pretty good article minus the assumption that you have to be in the navy. There were then and are now other professions on the water!

    • illnevertell says:

      Okay look, I’m aware there are other professions on the water. The purpose of this post was to educate people on the meaning and source of traditional Navy tattoos. Do other people have them? Yes. Are non-military sailors entitled to have them? Yes. Stop being such a baby and looking for a reason to complain.

      • Bri says:

        These tattoos were around before the U.S. Navy existed. They’re traditional mariner tattoos which were adopted by the navy. There is a specific tattoo for a golden shellback because that’s latitude AND longitude at the same time, and I got the shit beat out of me when I got mine.
        I completely agree with you that only mariners should get certain tattoos (merchant mariners and the navy) I think that the way you worded it offended some people who are merchant mariners. Also, since your friend has never been to sea, she hasn’t earned her sparrows. I’ve earned both of mine without stepping foot in the navy.
        I think if people read your entire post they would see where you referenced “hardcore mariners”
        Thanks for the post!

      • Rogers says:

        Love the article, But you forgot to mention the Jarheads who like to hitch a ride every now and then! I loved my time at sea, and happily took my beating during the crossing the line ceremony.

      • illnevertell says:

        Good call! I was on a small boy, I totally forgot about you guys! (Don’t tell my dad, he was attached to an amphib back in the day…) Glad you were able to get the nasty wog slime off of you ;)

  10. James says:

    Well where to start I’m a marine not a squid yet my dieing father in law was for 24 years I’m getting the pig and chicken on my feet more of a honer to him. Granted we did work on some ships I was a 1833 Aav driver so it was never for a long time. I get the fact of wanting to keep these for veteran personal only. But in truth that not what tattoos are about their about self expression. As for the guy with the Navy gay jokes, the only reason you are allowed to express yourself with tattoos or in writing is due to some of those same people you are talking shit about.

    • Lena Parent says:

      To start, thank you for your service, devil dog! Again, I’ve said this countless times in the comments: yes, the main thing is that tattoos have meaning, but it’s also important to know their history, and not shit on it like that loser who thinks it’s cool to have Navy/nautical tattoos when he’s probably never even been on a damn boat, let alone in the Service. If you want to get a pig and a chicken, go for it; like you said, jarheads go on ships, my dad was on a couple, too. I just think that honoring and knowing the reason your FIL had them is just as important as honoring the man himself.

  11. george says:

    Posers…really? Iwear a couple navy tats,never serverd,There in honor of my father, a ww2 submariner in the pacific

    • Lena Parent says:

      There’s nothing wrong with wanting to honor a loved one with a tattoo, see my reply to the guy asking about his grandfather, if you don’t believe me. My issue is that people get military tattoos without having served. I hope you’ve got his name on them or something, because without it, I see it as false advertising. You’re welcome to your opinion, but since I actually served and you didn’t, I think I’m also welcome to mine.

  12. Josh says:

    My grandfather passed away and I wanted to get a Navy themed tattoo in rememberance of him, but I certainly don’t want to misrepresent as someone who served. He served in ’46 and bounced around the Pacific. Would you have any suggestions? Thank you

    • Lena Parent says:

      Personally, if I was going to commemorate a person, I would probably go deeper than just their profession. There’s nothing wrong with including something referencing his service, but who was he to YOU? Was there something in particular that you wanted to remember about his service? Maybe you could get his name and a medal he got for something he was a part of. Saying “my grandfather was a sailor in the Pacific and I want to commemorate him with something specific and personal” is like saying he was a businessman somewhere in the United States. It’s not enough. Was he an officer or enlisted? What was his rank? If he was enlisted, what was his rate? What type of ship was he on? Was he involved in any kind of specific missions? The reason military members get “misrepresented” is because we all get lumped in together. If you want to honor the Navy, get a vague tattoo. If you want to honor your grandfather, get something that commemorates HIM.

  13. Matt says:

    I don’t necessarily agree that getting these tattoos makes you a poser if you have not served. If this were true then the majority of tattoos that people would get fall into that category. Although I have the utmost respect for every branch of the military and have family that have served, I myself have never served yet I was thinking of getting the pig and chicken tattoos on my feet because I am scared to death of drowning and really like the good luck superstition associated with them. Does that really make me a moron/idiot?

    • Lena Parent says:

      I’m sorry, but unless you’re some kind of mariner, getting a pig and rooster tattoo is pretty dumb. Go ahead, be afraid of drowning, but unless you’re in a profession/have a serious hobby of being out on the water, I don’t think it makes much sense for you to get them. It is my opinion that military tattoos be kept within the military, because they carry meaning, and it bugs the hell out of me when people get tattoos that carry ACTUAL meaning, and then say that they only got them for their own personal meaning. If I got a swastika tattoo, and said that I didn’t get it because of Hitler, but because the symbol carried “special meaning” to me, you’d all think I was a douchebag. I see no difference when traditional military tattoos are cannibalized by civilians who just want to “look salty.” Again, my opinion, it’s a guarantee that not everyone will agree with me.

      • Matt says:

        You make a lot of good points, especially by saying mariner. I just do not agree when you say keep the tattoos within the military because these superstitions have been around long before our military. The majority of tattoos carry actually meaning and seeing one person with one tattoo may actually mean something completely different to someone else in a different part of the world. For example, you see these gansters along with the wannabes proudly sport teardrop tattoos because it may be a reference to how many people they have killed. However, I heard that certain inmates Australia are given that tattoo to show that they are a sex offender. Therefore, the point I am trying to make is that there is no point in getting irritated with all of the people who sport the tattoo designs that have been used throughout the military because the actual meaning could be known to mean something completely different in another culture/ country. Unless rhe person falsely represents themselves as having military experience or they are a total douchebag, then more power to you…..

  14. […] it matter that my number one post is about Navy tattoos?  No, I don’t mind that one bit.  The Navy and Tattoos was my 12th post, and you want to know why I wrote it?  It wasn’t so much to bitch about […]

  15. Joe D says:

    Gramps was a merchant mariner turned USN WWII, and he did take me on one of his merchant mariner ships (pretty cool for a 12 year olds summer vacation, backbreaking work though), can I get a anchor tattoo in his honor?

  16. Edward says:

    I like the article. It has provided much of the information that I needed in order to complete my tattoo collection. I am a retired Commander- Surface Warfare Officer (you probably consider me the enemy) . In my day, officers only got tattoos surreptitiously. I sailed over 36,000 miles in my career and was wondering what combination of swallows (and stars) I am “allowed” to appropriately wear. I read on another site that it’s one swallow for 5,000 nm (as you said), but after 3 swallows, it’s a star for each 5,000. Any information or thoughts. I also crossed the Atlantic 4 times so I am looking to possibly incorporate an anchor (s) into the mix. Thanks for the excellent article and information. Looking forward to hearing more

    • illnevertell says:

      Thank you, Sir! I hadn’t heard of the third swallow or adding stars, but the latter definitely makes sense, considering that’s how we denote we have more than one medal/ribbon. Personally, I think after 10,000, people just lost track. I know I’ve done at least that much, but I have no clue how many miles I’ve actually sailed. Who does?? We go in circles half the time!

      • Edward says:

        “circles hall the time”… So true. I went through the exercise of trying to determine only the “point to point” transits. I can’t imagine calculating the time spent waiting for the carrier or the refueling ship. God what a nightmare. BTW, I realize you’e a woman and my previous comment was intended for the jerk bad-mouthing the “services of the sea”. You’e blog is both interesting and very cool to read.
        “Fair winds”

  17. illnevertell says:

    I know! I feel so bad! I hate the way the comment notifications are set up through WP, I didn’t realize until AFTER I replied that you were responding to BigMike, I do apologize! I deleted it as soon as I could!

  18. TurkeyDriver says:

    Edward said… “In my day, officers only got tattoos surreptitiously.” I second that. I’m a retired O-5/Aviator. My first tat was as an O-3 on liberty in Perth. Me and two air wing buddies got our wings tattooed on our left breast. We were the first three in line at a seedy tat joint in Freemantle waiting for the place to open. As the sailors started to show up they saw us and they all wanted to know why we O’s were there. They had a hard time grasping we were getting a tat. I’ve added a few traditional sailor tats since then. Earned them all . Love them all.
    I plan to spend my 2nd retirement on a 42 foot sailboat circumnavigating. Before I leave I’m getting the Pig and Chicken. Cant be too safe!

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