As another batch of freshly trained divemasters leave and new batch arrive , we thought we should share some information about the origins of the term ‘Davy Jone’s Locker’ . Its some thing we get asked about quite a bit, here in the shop, and have even had people come in asking to see Davy Jones!!! So, here is some lively Pirate lore to keep you entertained!
“Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate life,
The flag o’ skull and bones,
A merry hour, a hempen rope,
And hey for Davy Jones.” J. M. Barrie
The tale of Davy Jones causes fear among sailors, who may refuse to discuss Davy Jones in any great detail. Not all traditions dealing with Davy Jones are fearful. In traditions associated with sailors crossing the Equatorial line, there was a “raucous and rowdy” initiation presided over by those who had crossed the line before, known as shellbacks, or Sons of Neptune. The eldest shellback was called King Neptune, and the next eldest was his assistant who was called Davy Jones. Davy Jones’s Locker is a fictional place at the bottom of the sea. Davy Jones was said to sink every ship he ever over took, and thus, the watery grave that awaited all who were sunk by him was given his name. Tim, the owner of Davy Jone’s Locker diving, has a love of diving on shipwrecks and researching their history. Have a look at www.seaexplorersclub.com for more information.
Who was the real Davy Jones? No one really knows! However, there are a few legends about him.
• He was Vanderdecken (‘of the decks’), the captain of the ghost ship the Flying Dutchman.
• There was an actual David Jones, who was a pirate on the Indian Ocean in the 1630’s but most scholars agree that he was not renowned enough to gain such lasting global fame.
• A British pub owner who is referenced in the 1594 song “Jones’s Ale is Newe.” He may be the same pub owner who supposedly threw drunken sailors into his ale locker and then dumped them onto any passing ship.
• He could also be Duffer Jones, a notoriously myopic sailor who often found himself over-board.
• Welsh sailors who would call upon Saint David for protection in times of mortal danger, though this is unlikely as the Welsh have always used the saint’s Welsh name Dewi.
• Some also think it is simply another name for Satan.
• The name may have come from Deva, Davy or Taffy, the thief of the evil spirit.
• Davy may also stem from Duppy, a West Indian term for a malevolent ghost.
• There is also the “Jonah” theory, Jonah became the “evil angel” of all sailors, as the biblical story of Jonah involved his shipmates realizing Jonah was being punished for his disobedience to God and casting him over-board. Naturally, sailors of previous centuries would identify more with the beset-upon ship-mates of Jonah than with the unfortunate man himself. It is therefore a possibility that “Davy Jones” grew from the root “Devil Jonah” – the devil of the seas. Upon death, a wicked sailor’s body supposedly went to Davy Jones’s locker (a chest, as lockers were back then), but a pious sailor’s soul went to Fiddler’s Green.
And here is some pirate superstition for you as well:
1. A figurehead in the form of a naked woman, perched on the bow, calms the sea and her open eyes will guide it to safety .A naked woman on board was thought to be good luck. This is the reason for naked figureheads. Thai law takes a very dim view of public nudity… sorry boys!
2. Swallows seen at sea are a good sign, as are dolphins swimming with the ship.
3. Tattoos and piercing are said to ward off evil spirits.
4. Its good luck to spit in the ocean before you sail.
5. Coins thrown into the sea as a boat leaves port is a small toll to Neptune, the sea god, for a safe voyage.
6. Horseshoes on a ship’s mast will turn away a storm.
7. Cats brought luck. If a ship’s cat came to a sailor, it meant good luck. Drake and Sinbad in the shop are fat for a reason!
8. A child to be born on a ship was good luck (probably not for the child)
( this is where the term “Son Of A Gun” comes from). At Djl , we reckon we can find good luck some other way.
9. St. Elmo’s fire is the discharge of static electricity from points on a ship, such as masts and spars. According to some superstitious sea stories, if one flame appears, it means bad weather is coming. If two flames appear, it means the weather will be clear.
10. Pouring wine on the deck will bring good luck on a long voyage. May we suggest a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc; don’t waste the Champagne.