From another one of those articles I wrote years ago...
Coins In The Wind
Never whistle at sea. Never cut your hair or nails while underway. And never, ever, ever, start a passage
on a Friday.
With the possible exception of professional athletes, blue water
sailors are probably the most superstitious lot on the face of the earth. While some are loath to admit it, I do not know a mariner in the world that doesn?t have at least one superstition that will make them cringe, if not curse loudly and launch the offending object and/or persona overboard
Sailing the oceans is a tricky business at best, and down right dangerous at times. While Mother Nature and the sea may not be actively trying to do away with you, anything that may fend off disaster is not to be discarded lightly. Therefore, to assist you in worrying about things you never worried about before, or possibly avoiding that unscheduled swim, courtesy of a superstitious captain
, here is a short list of sea superstitions. Some are well known, some not so much so.
What brings bad luck to a ship, or sailor? Almost everything! And if it does not bring bad luck, it certainly portends disaster soon to follow. Whistling can wake Neptune from his slumber, bringing gales and stormy seas as he awakes. Never start a passage
on Friday, the day that Christ was crucified.
Avoid speaking to people with red hair while traveling to the docks to begin a passage. This also applies to priests, and barefooted women. Never speak the words drowned, shipwreck
, or pig onboard ship. Now I can understand not speaking of drowning or shipwrecks, but pig? Nonetheless, it is an old, old, superstition and if you needed to speak of a pig onboard, it is always called Danny or Mr. Danny. Church bells heard at sea, a ships bell that sounds without being rung, or a glass that rings when dropped, signify shipwreck
or the death of someone onboard.
Don?t step onboard with your left foot first. Don?t pass a flag through a ladder. Don?t look back as you leave port. And never harm a gull, as it carries the soul of a sailor who died at sea. Just to round it out, never change a ship?s name, paint
it blue, or bring a black sea bag, flowers, or a priest onboard.
Ok, I brought an umbrella on deck
and the Old Man cussed me out for ten minutes after tossing my brolly over the side. Is there anything onboard that isn?t bad news? Sure there is. A silver coin stepped under the mast
is a guarantee of a lucky ship and a safe passage. Black cats, believe it or not, are good luck onboard, and ensure that the ship and crew will return safely. A wren?s feather, the caul of a newborn child, and a tattoo of a chicken on one foot and a pig on the other are all proof against drowning. Wine poured on deck
poured over the side will bring good luck and safe seas, while a handful of coins tossed overboard
will bring fair winds. In the event of a storm, a bare breasted woman on deck will calm the seas. This is why the figureheads on most sailing ships are bare breasted.
So, as a long time cruiser, which of these do I believe? I don?t know if believe is the right word, but you wont catch me weighing anchor
on a Friday, and when I do leave, I?ll have a pocket full of coins and a bottle of rum
to hand. Moreover, unless you like swimming, try not to whistle.