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Old 12-27-2011
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Your favorite sailing superstitions

I hope all had a Merry Christmas.

My personal disclaimer: I am not a superstitious person or promote anything similar... I am a realist but I find the history of some sailing superstitions interesting.

While reading a novel a few months ago and I ran across a nautical superstition that I never heard before.
Whistling. Apparently you should not whistle on a sailboat as it will whistle up a storm.
I recently just seen this again on Distant Shores. They had no wind for a few days and they resorted to whistling. Yes, the next day a small storm came in.

I read that the "changing the name" on a boat was originally based on the history of old wooden sailboat ships. The name of the ship was on the keel. Whenever you changed the name, you had to shave the old name off, thus making your keel thinner and lighter. More you do this, the more unstable the sailboat would be.

Another silly superstition you will read in old sailing books is that you should never leave for a voyage on a Friday and in fact Sunday is the best day to leave.
I leave when I have the time off from the office or if I am not taking our kids to a hockey game or a school event., etc...

What are your favorite sailing superstitions and any history behind it?
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Last edited by patrscoe; 12-27-2011 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011
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Bananas = bad luck.

They might not actually bring bad luck, but I'll immediately throw them off the boat when I see them.
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Old 12-27-2011
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Women onboard = bad luck.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), my love of beautiful, intelligent women compels me to press my luck by bringing them aboard.
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Old 12-27-2011
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A west coast fisherman told me that if you open a can on the bottom, you have to throw it overboard.
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Old 12-27-2011
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Don't bring Black luggage on board...

I whistle but then I'm also a Boatswain Mate / Master and am allowed to. The rest of you don't even think about it... That is how Nasty Storms are brewed.
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When coiling lines wrap the coils only in a clockwise direction. Counter clockwise is bad luck. Place a coin under the mast step for good luck. Always step on board with your right foot first. Interesting link here... Sailing Superstitions - a Light-hearted Look | TheYachtMarket
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Old 12-27-2011
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You never utter the word drown or any version of sinking, sink or sunk while aboard.

Seeing rats leaving a ship is bad luck. They want to be on or off for the same reasons as you.
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Old 12-27-2011
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Another version of the bad luck associated with renaming a boat: Since pirates would often rename a boat that they'd captured, it was important for them to remove all traces of the old name. If the old name was discovered, the crew were assumed to be pirates and hung.

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Old 12-27-2011
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You must be very new to sailing to be just now discovering such common superstitions.
I do belive someone is mistaken in thinking that a boats name is ever carved into the keel. There may be some truth to this explanation however, as the transom or bulwarks are still structural members and the old name would have to come off.
By the way, which nautical superstitions had you heard of before reading about whistling?
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The coins under the mast of your vessel is to pay the ferryman in order to cross the river Styx in order to enter Hades... Charon the ferryman wants his money or he won't take your soul across.
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Last edited by Boasun; 12-27-2011 at 12:38 PM.
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