Eclipse in the Horse Latitudes

2010

Driftwood.

640mm(w) x 640mm(h) x 50mm(d)

The “horse latitudes” is an area just north and south of the equator prone to becalming ships.The term may come from the “dead horse” ritual where seamen paraded a straw stuffed effigy of a horse around deck before throwing it overboard. Seamen were often paid partly in advance before a long journey and frequently spent their pay all at once. If they got advances from the ship’s paymaster they would incur debt. This period was called “dead horse” time and usually lasted a month or two. The seaman’s ceremony was to celebrate having worked off the “dead horse” debt. West bound shipping from Europe often reached the subtropics about the time that the “dead horse” was worked off. Another theory relates to the Spanish transporting horses by ship to the West Indies. In this latitude ships often became becalmed. The result was water shortages which made it impossible for the crew to keep the horses alive so they would throw the dead or dying horses overboard. (Source: Wikipedia)

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