Nautical tattoos and their meaning

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been very fascinated with tattoos. It is a specific type of body art, and they have existed for thousands of years. I myself have five tattoos, and I hope to get a nautical one during 2020 or in 2021, the latter one being my 10th year sailing in the TSR.

Anyways, the past few years we’ve had some interesting lessons about nautical tattoos and their meaning, whilst sailing in the Tall Ships Races. Since tattoos also are a part of maritime history, I figured that I could share some of it with you today 😃 Enjoy!

1st category: Milestones

– Swallow: Each swallow represents 5000 nautical miles traveled, which is about 5,754 regular miles.

– Anchor: In the Navy, sailors get an anchor tattoo after successfully crossing and returning from the Atlantic Ocean. An anchor is also the most secure object on the ship, so its image serves as an icon of stability and unfaltering faith.

Dragon: This signifies that the sailor has served in a station in China or has sailed to a Chinese port.

– Fully Rigged Ship: This tattoo is for having sailed around the torrential waters of Cape Horn. A fully rigged ship is one with three or more fully deployed masts.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

2nd category: Luck

HOLD FAST: To hold fast means to hold onto the lines fast when the ship is aloft in bad weather, so sailors would not be thrown over board.

– Pig and Rooster: These animals were usually tattooed on the feet or behind the ankles. Superstitious sailors believed that they were symbols of protection from drowning.

Nautical Star: It is a symbol of protection, guidance, and good luck. Some see nautical stars as a symbolic reminder for creating one’s own path or navigating through a certain point in one’s life.

Photo: Shutterstock

These are some of the most common ones. There are a lot of awesome tattoos out there, and if you choose to go sailing this summer, I’m sure you’ll get to see some of them💉

If you want to read more about nautical tattoos, click HERE!

Fair winds,

– Eline

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