Sailing Superstitions

Sailors have many superstitions, some for luck and some that are bad luck. One of the most well known phrases that originated from a sailing superstition is “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning”. This phrase is still applied to sailing, but it has also become a common way to read the weather from day to day.

When a boat begins it’s life it is a must to name and christen it, this is considered lucky. This will mark the beginning of its life story and journey; most people say a boat develops a life and mind of its own, hence why you will commonly hear the owner refer to the boat as “she” or possibly “he”.

To change the name of a boat is considered unlucky, and if you even consider doing this you must have a denaming ceremony to do so.

You may want to avoid whistling while aboard a ship, it can be considered a challenge to the winds and may whistle up an unwanted storm. The only case that may be an exception to this superstition is if you would like the winds to strengthen and fill your sails, just don’t whistle too long or too hard! Aside from this, there was one exception to the “no whistling rule”; the cook was allowed to whistle because this was a good sign he wasn’t eating all of the food.

If you plan on packing a picnic on your next boating adventure, you may want to avoid putting bananas in your basket. Bananas have long been considered unlucky on a ship, for many reasons. Most commonly, bananas are known for being slippery, and we don’t want to hear of anyone slipping overboard! Back in the 1700’s ships would transport banana cargo from one port to another, and because bananas spoil so quickly the ships were always in a rush to get to their destination, therefore, fisherman never caught anything while bananas were on board. Ships carrying bananas were the most common to get lost on their journey as well.

Hang onto your hats when on board…or maybe not. It is said that when a hat falls overboard it is an omen that the trip will be a long one. If it’s a beautiful day and you are out on an exciting adventure, this may be a welcome omen for you.

Here’s a funny superstition – Scottish fisherman would begin their fishing venture by tossing one of the crew members overboard and then “catching” him. This was said to encourage the fish to be caught.

These just barely scratch the surface of the list of sailing superstitions out there. Do you have any sailing superstitions that you believe in and follow? Come and join in on the conversation over on our Facebook page!