Assign one person to be the "Captain." The role of the Captain is call out the actions and dismiss the players who don't do the actions quick enough or who break from character. Once the captain calls an action, each player has 3-4 seconds to start performing the action. If they don't find a group fast enough or perform the right action, they are out of the game.
Here is an explanation of each of the actions...
- Captain's Coming!: Everyone stands at "attention" (in a salute), and they can’t move from this position until the caller says, "At Ease!" If they laugh or break from the attention, they are dismissed.
- To the ship!: Players run to the right.
- To the shore!: Players run to the left.
(for an added bonus be sure to point the right direction the first few times and then begin to point the opposite occasionally. You will be surprised how many go the way you point instead of the right direction)
- Man Overboard!: One person drops to one knee the other stands behind them, puts a hand on their shoulder. Both scan the ocean for the overboard man
- Crows Nest!: Three players stand backs to each other and lock arms at the elbows to form the crows nest.
- Mess Table!: Four players squat in a circle like sitting at table and pretend to eat like they haven't eaten in days. Tell them to make really loud eating sounds like "YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM!"
- Walk the Plank!: Five people stand in a single file row hands on the shoulders of person in front of them
- Mermaid!: each player individually thrust out right hip, places right hand on that hip, takes left hand and makes a big exaggerated wave and yells out "howdy sailor!" (this one is basically for your own entertainment as it looks hilarious and it gets the participants laughing)
Another version of this is called Ships and Sailors. The rules are mostly the same except it often uses some different group names:
- Captain's Coming!: the same as above.
- Man Overboard: 2 players. One person gets down on one knee and the other puts a hand on their shoulder and pretends to search for someone.
- Bunk Beds: 2 players. One person lays back down on the ground and holds up their arms. Second person puts their head by the other persons feet and uses their hands to support themselves. The first person grabs their legs and holds them up.
- 3 men rowing: 3 players. Get in a line and pretend to row a boat while singing "row row row your boat".
- 4 men pointing north: 4 players. All get into a circle and point up.
- 5 men eating: 5 players. Get in a circle and pretend to eat.
- Sea Sick: 1 player. Pretend to throw up.
- Beached Whale: 1 player. Lays on the ground while acting like a beached whale and making weird sounds.
- Ships: Run to the left.
- Sailors: Run to the right.
- Hit the deck- fall to the floor on your stomach