Nautical superstitions

Here are just a few:

#  Some names can bring bad luck, like Stormtamer or Mary Celeste.  Don’t rename the boat either, except with a special ceremony at sea. To name the boat with a word ending in “a” is bad luck.

#  Don’t paint your boat dark green or dark blue, the colour of the sea itself.

#  No personal grooming onboard.

#  No women except naked or semi-naked – the sea likes naked women, hence boat prow carvings.

# Bad luck to set off on Thursdays (God of Storms, Thor’s day) or Fridays (the day Jesus was executed), the first Monday in April (the day Cain killed Abel), the second Monday in August (the day Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed), and 31 December (the day on which Judas Iscariot hanged himself). Do sail on a Sunday though.

# Don’t use the words “drowned”, “goodbye” or “good luck”.

# Do not take black holdalls onboard.

# Whisky is a landlubbers’ drink – drink rum if you must and always tip the first glass full over the side to appease the sea.

# No whistling or singing into the wind.

# If you meet a redhead before boarding, the only way to mitigate the bad luck is to speak to them before they speak to you.

# No bananas onboard, also no rabbits, nor any reference to rabbits.

# Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

# Shark following a boat a sign of doom, dolphins running with the ship a good sign, swallows are good, as is the ship’s cat.

# Pay your debts before embarking.

# Never kill an albatross.

11 comments for “Nautical superstitions

  1. barnacle bill
    July 17, 2017 at 16:35

    Pig(s) is another forbidden animal/word.

    Which was a bit of a hazard for our very superstitious second mate on one anchor handler I was Master of. As we used to call back up anchors piggy back anchors. Said second mate got around this by calling them “curly tails” and even going so far as to put this description in the deck log when he had to fill it out.

  2. opsimath
    July 17, 2017 at 16:49

    Not at all my subject but wasn’t the Gaul renamed? The ship that was, according to many, sunk by the Russians; if I remember correctly it was an a-frame something or other. Forgive my ignorance.

    By the way, wasn’t the Marty Celeste also a rechristened vessel? I seem to remember reading that it was, but I am getting old and memory fades.

    • July 17, 2017 at 18:04

      Marty Celeste? Brother of Mary?

      I shall look up those points and report back.

  3. opsimath
    July 17, 2017 at 18:44

    My typing, if it can be called such a thing, gets worse. That said, I think ‘Marty Celeste’ has a certain something, if only comedic possibilities.

    Thank you for the free copy-editing!

  4. dearieme
    July 17, 2017 at 19:12

    “No whistling or singing into the wind.” Very droll; the lesson I learnt as a lad was more immediately useful.

  5. Penseivat
    July 17, 2017 at 19:14

    Following on from ‘Marty Celeste’, slightly OT but the man who invented predictive text died last week. His funfair is a week on monkey.

  6. July 17, 2017 at 19:43

    Opsimath: Marty sounds different.

    Dearieme: You can whistle down the wind of course.

    Penseivat: Kondraske?

  7. July 18, 2017 at 01:25

    The Red Sky bizzo is only for the northern hemisphere. In the south the warnings times are reversed. So a red sky at night and sailors take fright.

  8. July 18, 2017 at 09:01

    This is uncanny – just saw this at the Wail, yet my post came from my boatbuilding:

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