10 Nautical and Sailing Superstitions – Navigating the vast and unpredictable expanse of the sea has always been a daring endeavour, one that requires skill, courage, and a touch of luck. Throughout maritime history, sailors have faced not only the physical challenges of the ocean but also the intangible mysteries that shroud it.
Superstitions at sea have been woven into sailors’ lives for centuries, a testament to the human desire to find meaning and control in the face of uncertainty. Join us as we embark on a journey into the world of 10 nautical and sailing superstitions, exploring the intriguing beliefs and practices that have shaped the lives of those who brave the waves.
Fortunate Days for Sailing
According to seasoned sailors, setting sail on a Sunday is often perceived as a lucky choice. Contrarily, Thursdays, linked to Thor is known for tumultuous weather and storms. Fridays, associated with the crucifixion of Jesus, were widely avoided.
Symbolism of On-Board Flowers
The presence of flowers aboard ships was historically considered inauspicious, due to their association with funerals and graves. This symbolism contributed to the belief that having flowers on board could bring about ill luck.
Averting Whistling Winds
Whistling is believed to have the power to conjure storms and unpredictable winds, causing anxiety among sailors who aimed to avoid any action that might disrupt the tranquillity of the seas.
An intriguing maritime superstition dictates that the attire of women aboard ships held significance for the voyage’s success. Clothed women were thought to attract misfortune. The presence of topless women however, was believed to bring about favourable winds and calm waters, inspiring the use of bare-chested female figureheads.
The Curious Case of Bananas
Sailors held varying beliefs about carrying bananas on ships, often associating them with ill fate. One rationale behind this superstition stems from the historical disappearance of trading vessels navigating between the Caribbean and Spain in the 1700s.
Ink and Destiny
The decision to embrace tattoos was widely endorsed among sailors. The inked designs held a strong connection to nautical life and were considered not only a form of self-expression but also a means of warding off misfortune.
Sirens of the Sea
Contrary to popular depictions, mermaids and mermen were not regarded as enchanting companions to sailors. Instead, these mythical beings were seen as harbingers of impending calamity, instilling dread among seafarers who believed their sightings foretold doom.
Stepping onto Luck
Maritime tradition dictated that the manner in which a sailor embarked upon a ship held profound implications for the voyage’s fortune. Starting the journey with the right foot was deemed vital, as stepping aboard with the left foot was linked to bad luck and the potential to cast a curse upon the expedition.
Dolphins as Guardians
Amidst the array of superstitions, dolphins emerged as symbols of protection and favourable outcomes. The sight of dolphins frolicking alongside a ship was interpreted as an encouraging sign, offering solace to sailors by assuring them of safe passage through the open waters.
Sailing with Porcine Luck
While the superstition against bananas held sway, the presence of pigs on ships was believed to attract good fortune. Sailors held the belief that carrying pigs on board would bless the voyage with favourable outcomes, to the extent that some even resorted to tattooing pig imagery on their feet to ensure their luck remained intact.
In conclusion, these captivating maritime superstitions reveal the intricate tapestry of beliefs woven into the lives of seafarers. As you embark on your own journeys, may these anecdotes from the past add an extra layer of charm to your nautical adventures. Bon voyage, fellow travellers of the sea!