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Cape Cod Sailors’ Superstitions

Mariners have always been notoriously superstitious folks. While out commercial fishing, I am very superstitious. My crew and I always follow the same routine to a tee. Never varying our process keeps us believing that misfortune will steer clear of our vessel. The following are some quite salty superstitions.

Watch a ship out of sight, and you’ll never see it again.

Bringing an umbrella aboard is bad luck.

Never drive a nail aboardship on Sunday.

If a bee or small bird lands aboard, that’s good luck. But if a hawk, owl, or crow lights in the rigging, that’s bad luck.

Whistle for a breeze in a calm. When the wind comes, stick a knife in the after side of the mainmast to hold it.

On a fishing vessel, if the hatch falls into the hold, that’s bad luck. But if a cake of ice falls overboard while icing up, that’s good luck.

Never turn the hatch to the fish hold upside down.

It is unlucky to start a fishing trip on Friday. (It can also be smart not to end a fishing trip on a Friday. Fish auction prices are usually lower on Monday because the market is flooded with fish from the boats that land over the weekend)

A black “sea bag” is bad luck for a seaman.

A naked woman on board will calm the sea. (we never got to test this one…)

A shark following the ship is a sign of inevitable death. (Hmmm… sharks used to follow us around all the time when we had a good haul. Blood in the water around a fishing boat is a good thing, as long as it’s the fishes’.)

What do you think about Sailors’ Superstitions? Leave a comment

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 04/14/06
Categories: Interesting
Keywords: maritime


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