Navy Superstition – Sailors Don’t “Clink” Glasses


Navy Customs and Traditions By Vikram Karve 

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

At the start of a party or drinking session – Civilians or “Pongos” may “clink” their glasses and say “Cheers” – and then start drinking…!!!

But – you may notice that a Naval Officer does not “clink” his glass – but he will just hold up his glass in his hand – and say “Cheers” followed by a toast.

Sailors don’t clink glasses.

Here is the reason for this Naval Custom (or you may call it a Navy Superstition):


Most people “clink glasses” when they meet over a drink and make a toast for good luck and good health.

However – Naval Officers never “clink” glasses when they make a toast.

They just hold up their glasses and say “Cheers” – and voice the toast.

The reason for this is as follows.

In the early days of seafaring – many years ago – when a sailor died at sea – his body was buried at sea – committed to the deep waters – to the “Davy Jones’s Locker” at the bottom of the ocean.

(This practice of consigning a dead sailor’s body to the sea is followed even today by some Navies – and in case – it is not possible to send the deceased sailor’s body back from the high seas – for his last rites)

The ship’s bell would be sounded 8 times as a mark of respect to the departed soul of the deceased mariner during the funeral service for burial at sea.

On a ship at sea – 8 bells are sounded at the end of a watch.

The 8 bells sounded at the funeral of the sailor signified “End of the Watch” for the dead sailor.

This the striking of “Eight Bells” (a nautical euphemism for “finished watch”) during burial at sea symbolized the obituary of the dead seaman.

The sounding of 8 bells was a way of pronouncing that the dead sailor’s “duty watch” was finished forever.

The sound of “clinking” glasses is similar to the solemn toll of the ship’s bell when the body of a dead sailor was committed to the deep sea.

Thus – it was assumed that the “clinking” sound will herald the death of a sailor.

Hence – “clinking” of glasses on board ships was considered a bad omen.

There was another superstition to lessen the gravity of the evil portent – in case a sailor inadvertently “clinked” his glass by mistake.

The sailor quickly silenced a “clink” that had mistakenly occurred with his hands – or he quickly “clinked” a second time.

It was thought that this would confuse the devil enough so that he might take a soldier instead.

So – if you are in the Navy – it is best not to “clink” your glass.

And suppose – by mistake – you “clink” your glass – remember to quickly “clink” your glass a second time – to confuse the devil – and ward off the evil.

Of course – this is all a myth – a Navy Superstition.

But – the next time you see someone reluctant to “clink” his glass – you know that he is a Navy Officer, Sailor or Veteran.

So – Dear Reader:

Cheers…!!! But – no “clinking” of glasses.


Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.


  1. This blog post is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved) 

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Re-Post of My Article Earlier Posted by Me Vikram Karve in my blog at 12/15/2012 03:07:00 PM at url:  and

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