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Can a captain really marry you?

Can a Captain Really Marry You?
Who is to blame here? Was it Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in the 1951 film "The African Queen?" Or was it Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom in the 2007 movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"?

Somewhere along the line, with a big boost from Hollywood, people got it into their heads that sea captains, nattily dressed in their crisp uniforms, could legally join couples on the open seas.

"Everyone has anecdotal knowledge of this - can't a captain marry them?" said John K. Fulweiler, a specialist in admiralty and maritime law in Newport, R.I. "I don't know where in society it percolates from. It's one of the most commonly misunderstood facts."

But in New York, Captain Arnold Wonsever, who has become an ordained minister through a church in Maryland and who notes that he has performed nearly 2,000 marriages since 2003, is making this myth a reality.

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babyloie1 March 08 2014 at 6:42 AM

I wonder what happened to all the hundreds of marriages that were performed at sea - are legal. Heavens! And the children born from them?

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Sylvia Arotin March 08 2014 at 6:54 PM

Huh whoda thought?

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raklukowski March 08 2014 at 12:14 PM

Argh, a course a captn can marry ye on board his ship. But when ye step unto land the marrage is over, Har har har.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
ptearose2 March 08 2014 at 11:47 AM

I think it is neat. My Husband and I renewed our wedding vows on a cruise ship in Hawaii in 1996. (My husband is now deceased) but it was nice, we got our photo taken with the Captain and a certificate. Which I will treasure for the rest of my life.

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Cindy March 08 2014 at 11:05 AM

I think Captains should be able to do it. They are the leader of that ship, the ones whose rule is law.

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paganstve March 08 2014 at 10:40 AM

Hey huffpost" stop using the comments for advertising, ok?

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Pamela March 08 2014 at 4:25 PM

dang there goes my ocean voage to find love lol

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kerrlakeroo March 08 2014 at 7:02 AM

WHOA yall are taking all the fun out of this. I used to have a 35' boat down in Key Largo, and had a sign right in the cockpit stating that
"MARRIAGES PERFORMMED BY THE CAPTAIN ARE FULLY VALID FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION OF THE VOYAGE".
It was good for a lot of laughs.

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2 replies
willyb71 kerrlakeroo March 08 2014 at 8:10 AM

My wife & I were married on a ship off Key Largo & the State of Florida mailed us a marriage license.

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1 reply
sequoia1952 willyb71 March 08 2014 at 9:06 AM

Florida is full of scams - That's putting the "cart before the horse" _ Must have license first, then comes the marriage - Most any "ordained minister" can perform a marriage - States don't want to violate "religious rights" - Don't know about Maritime Laws - But - As an example, is a marriage in Mexico, legal in California? Do your own research!
Claude DeMoss
San Jose CA
Sequoia1952@aol.com
Ordained Minister

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thosholzel kerrlakeroo March 08 2014 at 10:08 AM

Ha-ha. A good one!

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Ralph & Cindy March 08 2014 at 7:24 AM

I think the author should check the Maritime laws concerning International waters.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
John March 08 2014 at 8:54 AM

This is a nice plug for a law firm, and a trashy reprint of a NY Times article printed on 2/28/14.
BUT
In one well-known case, Fisher vs. Fisher, a court ruled that a particular marriage solemnized by a ship's captain was valid (and more generally that, absent a statute stating otherwise, an exchange of vows between two consenting parties constituted a valid marriage).
See: http://mentalfloss.com/article/23165/can-boat-captains-really-marry-people

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