Fun Sailing Superstitions

Superstitions are with us everywhere in life. Although its effect has diminished, it has not disappeared. What do we lose if we step on the boat with the right foot instead of the left? We'll just take an easy precaution! Every culture has its own superstitions, but most maritime beliefs are universal. Because maritime is universal in nature; like superstitions, their legends also share common terms such as etiquette and basic rules.

Fun Sailing Superstitions

Even in the 21st century, professional maritime is considered to be one of the most risky professions, but it is natural for seafarers who discovered new continents centuries ago to take refuge in superstitions. Imagine having no nautical chart, no electronics, no sextant, no compass, no telephone. The sailor's only trump card in this situation is to know nature well; being able to make predictions by watching the clouds, stars, the sky, the movements of the birds. However, although they could have foreseen it, they did not have much to do against the storm coming in the middle of the ocean. Other than avoiding bad luck and hoping to overcome dangers with the power of good luck. Let's take a look at the best known and the most interesting ones together...

  1. Women are not allowed on the boat!
    For centuries, boats have been referred to as "female" and given female names. Come see that when a female guest comes to the boat, the rule of "women are not allowed on the boat" suddenly appears. Of course, it is not difficult to guess the origin of the belief that women make the seas angry and create danger. Women were very attractive to sailors, especially those who did not get off the boat for months. This resulted in fights among the crew. In short, the unity of the boat was at danger, the crew was becoming more vulnerable to accidents.
  2. Changing the boat's name is bad luck!
    According to legend, the name of each boat was recorded by Poseidon, the god of the seas, with the naming ceremony. It was believed that changing the boat name without notice would cause Poseidon's wrath. Another belief was that Poseidon recognized and watched over each boat by name. It was believed that if the name of the boat was changed without his knowledge, Poseidon would no longer be able to protect the boat he had lost track of. So if you don't want bad luck to chase you across the seas, you should either not change your name or do the renaming rituals carefully without skipping any steps. The problem that the name change caused in the daily lives of the seafarers was that it took time for them to be recognized in the ports they regularly visited. Because sailors were respected by the name of their boats. In other words, they were more comfortable in matters such as food supply, protection and entertainment.
  3. Redheads are not allowed on the boat!
    Here is another discriminatory superstition… In fact, not only in maritime but in many cultures for centuries, red people were believed to be unlucky. So it was natural for sailors to avoid redheads as well. Another view was that redheads were considered fiery personalities.
  4. The boat is always stepped on with the right foot.
    This belief that the left foot brings bad luck may have come from preventing possible crossovers by making sailors be careful where they step when entering the boat. However, there are similar superstitions not only in maritime but also in many cultures.
  5. Bananas are not allowed on the boat!
    It's a rather strange superstition, where it came from, but there are a few guesses about it. One of them was that bananas caused other fruits to ripen quickly, that is, to rot before the trip was finished. Hiding highly poisonous spiders among bananas is another possible reason.
  6. No whistling on the boat.
    It was believed that whistling on the boat moves the wind and thus the sea. It was said that to whistle is to challenge the wind itself, and to do so will bring a storm.
  7. Do not start sailing on Friday.
    It is natural for it to be perceived as unlucky since it is the day Jesus was crucified. Apart from Fridays, many other "bad days" such as Thursday, the day of the storm god Thor, and the first Monday of April, the day when Cain killed Abel, also affected the sailors' departure days from time to time.
  8. Do not use forbidden words.
    Words like "goodbye" and "good luck" were believed to bring bad luck. Although the reason is unclear, there are still sailors who credit it. It was also considered bad luck for sailors' wives to call out or wave at their wives when they left the door on their journey.
  9. Cats bring good luck.
    Centuries ago, cats were believed to have superpowers and could predict the weather. But there is another more practical reason, which is that the cats find and kill the mice and rats hiding on the ship. Although they may not have superpowers, the work of cats seems to be enough in itself to be loved.
  10. Red sky at dawn indicates bad weather.
    At dawn, red skies signaled impending rain and stormy seas. As a matter of fact, it is possible to say that it is a transfer of experience rather than superstition.
  11. Putting money at the bottom of the pole brings good luck.
    The tradition of putting coins at the bottom of the pole dates back to Ancient Rome. For this reason, for centuries, a coin was inserted into the slots of the boats before the masts were placed. It was believed that the money at the bottom of the mast would bring good luck and abundance to the boat.
  12. Dropping a hat off the boat prolongs the journey.
    Although it did not have as bad an effect as the others, care was taken not to drop a hat from the boat, as the length of the journey, being away from the family and having to endure with little food was not very pleasant.
  13. Tattoo brings good luck.
    Tattoos are still popular with sailors today. Ancient sailors believed in the power of symbols and tattooed them to bring good luck or prevent bad luck. The star or compass rose tattoos were believed to help sailors get home safely, while the rooster and pig tattoos were thought to enable them to reach land in the event of an accident. The reason for this belief was that even if the ship sank, roosters and chickens could reach land due to their wooden cages, and pigs could swim.
  14. Sharks portend death.
    We can't call it such a surprising superstition. A shark following the ship was perceived as a sign of inevitable death.
  15. Killing a dolphin is bad luck for the ship.
    Since dolphins were always a sign of good luck, killing was thought to have a bad price.
  16. Seeing seabirds is a good omen.
    According to this ancient belief, seeing seabirds such as swallows, albatross or gulls is always a sign of good luck. Seabirds were believed to carry the souls of deceased sailors.
  17. Crush the egg shells thoroughly.
    This is one of the weirdest superstitions. It is believed that if large shells remained, the witches could come to the boat with these shells.


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