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Date: January 19, 2003 at 18:07:25
From: R. Dale Flick, [nr12-66-161-174-169.fuse.net]
Subject: Re: 'Superstitions,'/Boat Prayers/Christenings.


Hi, Jane, Ted, Judy & gang:
The 'superstitions' are coming in on the web. Yet, we've not discussed steamboat christening customs etc. The then new MISSISSIPPI QUEEN was formally Christened April, 30, 1975 by the Honorable Lenore K. Sullivan, U.S. Congress along with Navy Secretary John Warner (then married to, GASP!, Elizabeth Taylor). Sullivan used the conventional champagne bottle on the boat boat's capstan during a drizzle. Secretary Warner intoned, "Enjoy a good sailor's mist."

The origins of christening a ship/boat by smashing a full bottle of champagne against her keel has not been determined to our full satisfaction. We know that: 1. The Greeks believed that wine appeased the sea and brought sailors good luck. 2. Medea's lover-to-be, Jason, on leaving port, "...threw abundant wine in the sea." 3. There's an old English sailor's proverb, "A ship which hath not tasted wine will taste blood."

Another old custom when the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN arrived in Cincinnati that hot July day, 1976, was to 'pipe' the boat with a troop of Scottish pipers with drums in a 'slow march' to 'Amazing Grace.' This custom also done in full dress uniform with ribbons/medals on decommissioning of a naval or commercial vessel. It was an ecumenical event for the MQ with representatives of several faiths offering blessings to the new boat. Alan Bates penned, March, 2002, "There's many a 'slip' twixt the pen and the ship."
Regards,
R. Dale Flick


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