Seafarers are renowned for being superstitious, from the age of antiquity up to recent history, as sailors faced many uncertainties and dangers when embarking on a voyage. Over the years, mariners have put their faith in superstitions to protect and guide them safely along their journeys across the seven seas. In today’s world, boating is much safer, with GPS technology you no longer need to blindly set sail praying that Aneomi (God of Wind) will hold storms at bay. With this said, we thought we’d share a few of our favourite old superstitions.
Bananas are a bad omen
Bananas have long been thought to bring bad luck to boats… and for many reasons! At the height of the trading empire between Spain and the Caribbean in the 1700’s, most cases of disappearing ships happened to be carrying a cargo of bananas at the time.
Another sign that bananas where bad was that when cargo ships would sink, quite often it was only the bananas that would be found floating on the surface of the water… causing suspicion that they were cursed and had caused ships to sink!
Lastly, bananas often carried stow-aways in the form of venomous spiders which would bite crew members causing them to die suddenly for no apparent reason and once again heightening the fear that bananas where a bad omen.
Whistling up a storm
Sailors believed that whistling on a boat could conjure up a storm. Legend has it that whistling aboard a ship would challenge the wind and cause it to increase in retort, which could bring in a storm… However, in wind-less waters, sailors may have whistled in hopes of coaxing up a breeze to blow them onward.
No women on-board
One that our female skippers are particularly unimpressed with… women on-board a boat was thought to bring bad luck. Apart from ‘distracting’ the sailors from their duties, it was also believed their presence would anger the sea gods who would cause violent weather.
Luckily this nautical superstition has disappeared over time and women are no longer seen as bad omens, with many of the top skippers in the world now being female!
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning!
This expression is an old saying which would indicate the weather. Sailors supposed that the colour of the sky could predict the weather; a red sky in the evening would imply a beautiful day to follow, whereas a red sky in the morning would give warning of a brewing storm.
All these old superstitions seem ridiculous and bizarre when looking back on them, however with that said, here at Solent Rib Charter we would still recommend throwing a shot of rum over the transom to keep Neptune happy!