My company has recently chartered a new ship. All our ships have the prefix 'Tasman', and this ship was renamed 'Tasman Explorer.' Before that, she was the 'CCNI Hong Kong' and before that, the 'Cape Dennison', and she's only 4 years old! In the hard headed world of commercial shipping
, no-one gives a toss for the so called good luck-bad luck associated with name changing. The big name companies, Shell, Maersk etc own their own vessels and these will carry the same name throughout their lives, but the vast majority of shipping
companies employ chartered tonnage and typically a 10 - 15 year old ship will have had half a dozen name changes, all with no discernable bad effects!
The trouble with maritime superstitions is that if you accept one, you are pretty well obligated to accept all. So, with that in mind, there are a few things that are banned from on board your boats. At the top of the list, according to superstitious tradition, are unmarried women, parsons and dead bodies, in that order. So no more moonlight cruises anchored in the compliant arms of your beloved, and a quick thrash around the bouys with the minister after church on Sunday is also out. And if one of your crew should unfortunately snuff it, you will have to bury them at sea immediately and to hell with the authorities ashore - don't risk the bad luck of retaining the body on board, and don't forget that when you sew the body up in your old storm jib
, the last stitch always goes through the deceased's nose.
Whistling on board is a big no-no as it brings on gales, although in calms a little soft whistling and scratching the backstays
with the fingernails may induce a breeze. If the wind comes roaring like a banshee..., well you whistled to darn loud, didn't you. Also for this reason, mouth organs, penny whistles, recorders etc are prohibited on board, although mechanical wind instruments - accordians, concertina etc are O.K.
If a sea bird should crap on you, do not remove the offending blob - let it remain until it falls off or otherwise dissappears. Others may look at you askance, but you will be secure in the certain knowledge that upon you the gods have smiled with favour. To remove it will only enrage the deities who otherwise sought to bless you. And finally, don't neglect to place a coin, gold not silver, under your mast
step. In the event of a big catastrophe this is required to pay the ferryman to transport your soul accross the River Styx into eternity. No gold coin, no crossing and you will have to spend forever in the cold embrace of Davy Jones's locker......
Phew!! and thats only for starters. All in all, I thing it easier to regard thses nautical superstitions for what they are - superstitions! Sailing can sometimes be complicated enough on its own without adding to the difficulties.