If virgins are to scratch the mast, gifts of flowers directly overboard are gefiert and even cheerful whistling must be refrained from, these are unmistakable indications that at least the skipper on board is superstitious. SeaHelp has compiled the 13 (!) most popular superstitions on board.
Superstition No. 1 – No flowers on board
Flowers on board are reminiscent of funerals and bring bad luck, even a harmless little basil plant in a pot in the galley is eyed extremely suspiciously. Bouquets or even decorative potted flowers (hanging geraniums on the railing?!) are completely frowned upon by superstitious sailors. If at all, flowers are only allowed on the quarterdeck of a romantic houseboat. Whereby the prohibition of flowers on board refers only to sailing yachts. Those who are traveling with a fancy motor yacht are welcome to decorate their cockpit, which is open to the promenade, with an elaborate flower arrangement.
Superstition No. 2 – The right tattoo
Half as a tattoo on many forearms of brave sea bears. It is important that it is always vertical with an upright posture, so that the luck can not fall out.
Superstition No. 3 – Scratching the mast
If the ship lies in leaden doldrums, it should help if a virgin scratches at the mast. How that fits with the outdated saying “woman on board brings death and murder” is questionable. Likewise, a fresh breeze can be conjured up by scratching the mast with an old, rusty nail. In many cases, this should be easier to do than to find a virgin among the crew.
Superstition No. 4 – Unchristened ships
Be careful with the naming ceremony and the choice of the name of the ship. One should not set sail with an unchristened yacht, it brings bad luck. But to name his ship after the fiancée is also dangerous, because then the fancy yacht will be jealous. It is better not to rename a ship bought second-hand at all and to sail with Sabine V – whoever Sabine was. And if you want to be very precise, don’t choose a name for your yacht that ends in “A”, that also brings bad luck.
SeaHelp has a ranking of the most popular boat names, alongside well-known “oldies but goldies” such as “Sunshine.” “Black Pearl” and “Carpe Diem”, some names ending in “A” also consistently hold their own in the top 20 – perhaps the owners of “Bella”, “Luna” and also “Aurora” should get a little more creative with their next yacht.
By the way: The “Titanic” was never christened.
Superstition No. 5: Whistling
Who cheerfully whistling his watch starts from the captain immediately turned on “On board whistles only the wind!”. Because on all ships applies: Who whistles on deck, conjures up the next storm.
Superstition No.6: No bunnies
Especially among French sailors, bunnies on board are real bearers of bad luck. In exceptional cases, this even applies to the cuddly toys of the youngest fellow sailors. The bad reputation of the animals comes from the fact that in the 18th and 19th centuries live hares were taken on the long sea voyage as food. But if the animals could escape on board, they often caused severe feeding damage to provisions and lines with their sharp teeth.
Superstition No.7: Problematic Fruit
As romantically as bananas suspended in the net on the cabin deck dangle in front of them at the start of a long cruise, on many ships the yellow fruits are forbidden as a bringer of bad luck. The bad reputation of the yellow fruit dates back to the 18th century, when numerous ships carrying bananas from the Caribbean to Spain sank or disappeared without a trace. The reason for this could have been the sometimes reckless course taken by the captains in order to transport the perishable goods to the port of destination as quickly as possible. The exotic perennials also fell into disrepute when poisonous spiders were involuntarily smuggled in with them.
Whatever the case, anyone who knows the smell of overripe bananas below deck does not need superstition for a ban on these fruits on board.
Superstition No.8: No smoking
If you think you have to light your butt on a candle flame, you risk the life of a sailor! This rule applies both on land and at sea. And is probably based on the fact that sailors without wages often tried to earn a little extra money by selling matches.
Superstition No.9: Sacrifice for Rasmus
No matter what the sea god’s name is, he must be appeased at the start of the voyage so that he is always well disposed towards the ship and its crew. The best way is a good sip of sherry poured directly downwind (!) over the side of the ship. In addition with the suitable saying “Rasmus old turnip pig, gives and wind and sunshine”. In order not to annoy Neptune, Poseidon & Co, hair and nails should also never be cut at sea, in addition it applies to avoid the color green as a clothing but also equipment. Green is the color of Neptune, and thus reserved for the sea god.
Superstition No.10: Courage to color
Ever wondered why regatta sailors enter the decisive race with red socks on their feet? “Red socks” are considered, especially among New Zealand sailors, as a good luck charm. The ritual goes back to sailing idol Sir Peter Blake, who was given a pair of lucky red socks by his wife in 1995 during the “Kiwis'” first hunt for the legendary America’s Cup. And a little later he was able to hold the coveted Cup in his hands. So has nothing to do with an openly displayed political attitude, even if the “Red Socks Campaign” still sticks in the memory.
Superstition No.11: Protection from the Beyond
Circling above the ship majestic albatrosses or large seabirds, it does not necessarily have to be a bad omen. In them, they say, the souls of deceased sailors live on. And they can certainly lay a protective hand on ship and crew.
Superstition No.12: Good spirit on board
If on a ship a usually red-haired, pipe-smoking Klabautermann drives its mischief and makes all kinds of mischief, this is not a spooky, but a reassuring sign. The Klabautermann watches over his ship and points out dangers with a clear knocking sign.
Superstition No.13: Various talismans
For more speed in windjammers should provide nailed to the jib boom shark or whale fins, the often opulently decorated figureheads of lightly dressed women should calm the angry sea creatures and storms. Cats on board also bring good luck, especially because they fight rats and mice and thus contribute to shipboard hygiene. Garlic on board also helps against some bad luck and if a group of dolphins accompanies the ship, bad luck and heavy weather don’t stand a chance.
Easy to implement and much less martial than attaching fins to the bow pulpit: When setting the mast, place a coin under the foot of the mast! Can’t hurt…