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Mariner Legends and Superstitions

Sailors can be a superstitious group and spooky legends abound. There’s often no basis for a superstition to persist. However, there are others that have lived on throughout the ages and actually do have a kernel of truth.

No Bananas Allowed

Before modern day precautions, shipments of bananas often harbored tarantulas that would infest a vessel and bite sailors.

Name Your Boat

Mariners contend that it’s bad luck to ever set out on a boat without a name.

Never Sail on Friday

This is a Biblical reference to Jesus being crucified on a Friday. The number of stories about vessels setting out on Friday and meeting a bad end are legion. There’s also an urban myth about the HMS Friday of the British Royal Navy that met a tragic fate by sailing on Friday. The myth persists, even though there never was an HMS Friday.

Right Foot First

It’s considered bad luck to board a boat with the left foot leading. The origin of this is easy to decipher. Most people are right-handed and tend to lead with their right foot.

Whistling on a Boat

Legend has it that whistling on a vessel of any kind is a direct challenge to Mother Nature – or Poseidon in some cultures – to whip the wind and water into a frenzy. It’s a legend, but whistling on any vessel is still unacceptable.

Keep a Cat on the Boat

Unless you have rats on board, keep your cat at home. The basis for this is old time ships that kept a cat on board to hunt rats that could chew through hulls and contaminate food.

Red Sky in Morning

The saying goes “Red sky in morning, sailor’s take warning. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” There is scientific evidence to support this, as the sun can illuminate potential storm clouds on the horizon.

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