In the third such incident this month, a yacht has collided with a tanker 250 NM southwest of the Azores archipelago. With the collision having been live broadcast over Periscope, in this case the most ironically named app, there is little doubt as to the primary cause of the collision: the crew were performing a crossing ceremony. All of them.
Reports from MRCC Ponta Delgada indicate that there have been no immediate injuries or environmental damage, though the yacht crew have made allegations of assault, claiming that immediately following the incident the captain of the tanker boarded their vessel (whose bows had become wedged in the bulwarks of the tanker) and roundly smacked all present for being daft.
“Aye. That’s exactly what I did.” Says Declan McCluckuck, Scottish master of the M/V Square Go. “They’s was being a bunch of bleedin’ eejits, and helmed their honkin’ white boat right into our side. Or more directly, didn’t helm they farkin’ boat. So I clouted the lot of ’em. And if they want to talk about it I’d be happy to have another gum bump.”
Reviewing the video it is hard to blame the captain for his ire. A recording that has made it’s way online shows fifteen crew members, the full complement for the voyage, gathered on the foredeck and facing a variety of directions that don’t include forward, but do include: aft, into a bucket full of rotten fish, at their phones as they take pictures, nowhere as their eyes are full of an unnamed liquid, and down at the deck, presumably wishing the ceremony is over.
Officially a maritime tradition used to induct sailors crossing the equator for the first time, recent years have seen yachts whose cruising grounds never take them that far south, increasingly applying the ceremony to crossings of other bodies of water. The Atlantic has become the favourite occasion to mark by hazing junior crew members, but there have also been reports of ceremonies marking Gulf Stream crossings, France-to-Spain Crossings, and even some who choose to celebrate sailor’s ‘First Time Out of Sight of Land’ by dumping food on them whilst tied to a fixed object. With the increase in at-sea (or at-lake) inductions, incidents of collisions and groundings have also risen.
Reached for comment by phone, an IMO representative remained silent, though when pressed on the matter, admitted she was shaking her head.