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Old 15-05-2020, 02:58   #1
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pirate Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

Reefmagnet, this one's for you!

Over in the Engine & Propulsion, we got into it over engine preferences (which you can read about here, if you're so inclined: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...se-234234.html)

So it's clear we have certain *colour* preferences amongst this group. Then I began to wonder - how many of them originate from old sailing superstitions?

Here are a few I've learned over the years and then it's your turn to share yours:

> No green on boats. Ever. Anywhere. (So no green Volvo engines) - I was once denied entry onto a boat until I sent a green set of thermal layers home. The no-green reason explained to me was that green is like grass. Which is related to land. You want your boat to go to the bottom? There's land down there. If you want to be in harmony with the sea - blue and varying shades of blue (or any other colour than green...)

> Never begin a passage on a Friday. This one is really old and obscure and may have something weird to do with Jesus and Fishermen and eating fish on Fridays... That's the clearest reference I've ever been provided. In my own case, the only voyage I ever departed on a Friday (once) we were caught in a quite harrowing 4 days' gale. Almost lost the rig. Another story I know, after departing on a Friday and 3 days offshore into a delivery, the boat was hit by a rogue wave, sank in 2 mins and the crew abandoned to their dinghy bec the liferaft had blown away, 3 of 5 survived 5 days until they were picked up by a passing freighter...

> No Whistling! This comes from the phrase, "Whistle up a wind". Once I was helming in some rather heavy offshore weather and whistling because - frankly - I was pretty scared and I guess unconsciously trying to calm my nerves. The plummy British skip called up from below, " That's quite enough wind thank you! Translation: Stop that bloody whistling and mind your helming! (Of course, if you're becalmed you could always try whistling...)

> Always give Neptune his dram. When imbibing onboard - especially just before leaving on a passage - ensure that you pour a mouthful over the side before you take a sip and dedicate it to Neptune. Then the God of the Sea will look out for you and keep you safe on passage.

That's all for now. There's a very elaborate process for re-naming a boat to circumvent the prohibition which I won't go into.

Now Forum! Your turn. What sailor's superstitions do you know/have had experience of?

Warmly,
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Old 15-05-2020, 03:07   #2
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
Reefmagnet, this one's for you!

.....
> Never begin a passage on a Friday. This one is really old and obscure and may have something weird to do with Jesus and Fishermen and eating fish on Fridays... That's the clearest reference I've ever been provided. In my own case, the only voyage I ever departed on a Friday (once) we were caught in a quite harrowing 4 days' gale. Almost lost the rig. Another story I know, after departing on a Friday and 3 days offshore into a delivery, the boat was hit by a rogue wave, sank in 2 mins and the crew abandoned to their dinghy bec the liferaft had blown away, 3 of 5 survived 5 days until they were picked up by a passing freighter...
Warmly,
LittleWing77
That adds up to thirteen.... hmmm...

True story , I once sailed on Friday the 13th... mast fell down 13 days later... served me right....

You have failed to mention women aboard ( most ships that sink have women aboard so that one is true..) and bananas....

Wheelbarrows and naval officers are not a 'luck' issue but a 'usefulness' issue... the wheelbarrow being the more useful of the two...
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Old 15-05-2020, 03:11   #3
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

Oh! Forgot the prohibition against chicks... wonder why?

Bananas aren't a superstition. It's just common sense. They have cockroaches. You want bugs on your boat? Bring bananas onboard.
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Old 15-05-2020, 03:34   #4
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

Quote:
Bananas aren't a superstition. It's just common sense. They have cockroaches.
No, that's not our experience! Big stalks of bananas don't have cockies, they have big spiders who have eaten all the cockies. Good practice to hang them overboard for a while before bringing on deck. Cruising in the tropics, bananas are common on board and a welcome part of our diet. And the bananas that you get in such places are SO much better than the tame ones at Woolies... yum!

I'm trying to think if we have any superstitions on board... hmmm...

I know! Never leave on a passage when there is a cyclone blowing at your location.
Never cast off dock lines when the ship is on fire.
Never barf to windward.

There may be others of equal importance, who knows?

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Old 15-05-2020, 03:41   #5
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

Ha ha! A thread just for me!!! Thanks LittleWing


Colours don't bother me too much.... yet!


I too have had disaster befall me leaving port on a Friday. One time, I nearly lost the rig when the backstay snapped and got layed over by waves a couple of times trying to get home on a jury rig. But then again, I've left port on a friday many times over the years without disaster. If it's a Friday the 13th though, I'd probably hold off and leave after midnight.



Then there was the time I stepped onto a fishing boat, pulled out some bananas from my kit and started offering them around. Things proceeded to escalate quickly and I just about got thrown overboard by the rest of the crew. At first I thought the guys were pulling my leg, but apparently bananas should not be taken aboard. Who knew?.


Never really worried about colours, although my mother refused to own a green car and would only very reluctantly travel as a passenger in someone else's green car (did I mention my first ever car was green?).


As I've expressed elsewhere, though, I have been subjected to cursed inanimate objects seemingly possessed of the devil (excluding Windows powered PC's where it's kind of expected anyway) more than once in this lifetime.
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Old 15-05-2020, 03:48   #6
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

The bad juju with bananas is limited to fishing boats... I think. Even though it was hard to make out clearly what a bunch of fisherman all screaming and spraying spittle in unison were saying, I think the gist is that there is some chemical emitted by a banana that stops the fish from biting.



And there could be something to that. Personally, I've never heard of anyone catching a fish using a banana for bait.
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Old 15-05-2020, 04:29   #7
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

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No, that's not our experience! Big stalks of bananas don't have cockies, they have big spiders who have eaten all the cockies. Good practice to hang them overboard for a while before bringing on deck.
Yup, Jim. We, too, would hang a hand off the stern - but oh, what-to-do when they all ripen at the same time!? We had a banana pancakes party in Fiji and invited the entire anchorage. Almost sank the boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
I'm trying to think if we have any superstitions on board... hmmm...
I know!
>Never leave on a passage when there is a cyclone blowing at your location.
>Never cast off dock lines when the ship is on fire.
>Never barf to windward.
These are really useful, Jim. I'm gonna commit them to memory...
(But sorry, none of them "qualifies" as a superstition. Just common sense.)

Have you ever come across the no-green-on-boats thing? That particular skipper was adamant; I just thought he was a little nuts...
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Old 15-05-2020, 04:38   #8
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

we use to have a rigid superstition about bananas on my race boats, however we are much more relaxed about this (and everything else) now we are cruising

and i'm with jim...the banana superstition harkes back to the old days of loading bulk bananas on to sailing ships...always full of spiders which would then infest the ship

other superstitions that are more or less observed to my knowledge include ;

- don't kill an albatross (who'd do that anyway ?)
- don't whistle (unless you're becalmed and want the breeze)
- don't change the name of a boat (which i've done numerous times...which now that i think of it may explain a few things...hmmm)

cheers,
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Old 15-05-2020, 04:45   #9
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Ha ha! A thread just for me!!! Thanks LittleWing
Maybe you're really Neptune, God of the Sea, and I should really be dedicating my next dram to you...
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Old 15-05-2020, 05:59   #10
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

The banana thing isn't superstition or bugs - it's a storage issue. Bananas give off copious amounts of ethylene - which speeds up the ripening of lots of other fruits/veg. Nobody wants everything to spoil one week into a three-week voyage. Banana ships (there is such a thing - the Dole ones are painted yellow) have a special venting system to rid the holds of ethylene.
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Old 15-05-2020, 06:04   #11
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

Lodesman! That is so. cool.

THANK you! And, of course, that was the problem we had with the half-hand? hand? of bananas we had hanging off the backstay. They all ripened at once and we couldn't eat them all ourselves, so we had the aforementioned banana pancake party...

Mystery solved!
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Old 15-05-2020, 06:07   #12
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

We do know the origins of some superstitions, but the marine ones are likely to be too ancient to walk back. People who walk under ladders get tools dropped on their heads, and three cigarettes on a match invited a sniper bullet during the 1st WW. Anyone who owns an older car that is difficult to start on cold mornings has superstitious sequences of taking it in and out of gear, pressing the clutch, and the like, all of which just gave you enought time between tries cranking it for the fuel/air mixture to get in the combustible range.
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Old 15-05-2020, 06:13   #13
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

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Never barf to windward.
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Old 15-05-2020, 06:18   #14
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

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Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
Oh! Forgot the prohibition against chicks... wonder why?

Bananas aren't a superstition. It's just common sense. They have cockroaches. You want bugs on your boat? Bring bananas onboard.
In my experience, that's more a fisherman's superstition.


Quite a few here:
https://www.maritimemuseum.co.nz/col...-superstitions
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Old 15-05-2020, 07:44   #15
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Re: Red or Green? Sailors' Superstitions...

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In my experience, that's more a fisherman's superstition.
Actually, see Lodesman's no-nonsense reply above (Post #10). Very cool.

Now, com'ON, Stu! Thanks for the maritime museum link, but this was not a fact-finding mission, it was a storytelling invitation.

You mean to tell me that you don't have one story about sailors' superstitions in Papua New Guinea?

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