Halloween costumes for the sailor, beyond Jack Sparrow

By: American Sailing Association

jack sparrowIf you’re anything like me, every year you have a great Halloween costume idea in mid-July, which you then forget about, and on October 30th, or sometimes the morning of the 31st, you think, “Wait a second, everyone else is dressing up, I should be too.” On the other hand, maybe your costume is ready way in advance, but it’s a little too expected…do you really want to be Jack Sparrow #4 at the party?

Your local costume store will be well stocked with generic seagoing outfits, but what if you want something with a little personality? Here are some ideas for nautically themed costumes, ranked from Easy to Nearly Impossible:

Pirate: A classic. All you need is an eyepatch from the local drugstore, a black paper hat with a skull and crossbones (a bandanna will do in a pinch), and white shirt (preferably with ruffles). Bonus points for a parrot on the shoulder. Extra bonus points for dressing up as a SPECIFIC pirate, especially if it’s Blackbeard and you put firecrackers in your hair. (Note: We don’t recommend that! It would definitely launch this costume into the Nearly Impossible category!)

Swabbie: Wear all white and carry a mop. Do whatever your superior officer tells you.

Richard Branson: Business mogul and lover of sailing. You’ll need a blond wig and a goatee, and a nice suit (but no tie!). Try to act like you have a lot of money and know exactly what to do with it.


Davy Jones/Neptune: It’s not easy being an undersea deity. For Neptune you’ll need his trademark trident and white, flowing beard. Also, he never seems to wear a shirt. (If I had that physique I wouldn’t either.) If you want to try Davy Jones (and not the one from the Monkees), you have some room to be creative. The name Davy Jones has been attributed to an English pub owner who kidnapped sailors, a ghost captain, and even the devil himself. No one really knows, so do what you like best. Just be sure to make frequent references to your “locker.”
jfk sailing
Royal Navy Admiral: An admiral needs to look SNAPPY. Everyone else at the party will be looking to you for guidance when the chips are down and the guacamole has run out. Project confidence and leadership with a bicorn hat and gold epaulets. Bonus points for sewing the correct rank insignia onto your sleeves. The best thing about this costume is that the swabbie has to follow your every order.

JFK: Our most stylish president was also a decorated naval officer and an avid sailor. Go with shorts, deck shoes, and a rumpled-but-classy oxford shirt, open at the collar. Put in the time to perfect your Massachusetts accent, and be sure to give an inspiring speech before the night is over.


Jellyfish: It’s tough to get that “gelatinous predator” look just right. For the ladies, maybe try a tu-tu with colored yarn or paper attached. A clear plastic umbrella could also be a good starting point. I actually have no idea how you would make this costume, but I’d LOVE to see somebody pull it off.

Solo Non-Stop Circumnavigator: Let your hair grow for about eight months, shower infrequently, and talk to yourself a lot because there’s no one else around. Some possible models include Joshua Slocum, Reid Stowe, and Jessica Watson (don’t forget the Australian accent!). Oh, and of course, earn the respect and admiration of your fellow sailors for having the guts and skill to do it, even if you’re only pretending.

What are you doing for Halloween? Any other/better costume ideas? Let us know in the comments!