Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yes, We Have No Bananas, Superstitions at Sea

© Krasphoto
18th century sea-going folk had a whole raft (pardon the pun) of superstitions, many of which linger today. Some had logical origins while others defy understanding. So during this month of Halloweenish goings-on I thought it might be fun to offer a list of 13 shipboard superstitions I have garnered during my research:
1-Bananas on board are a portent of disaster.

2-Women on board are bad luck unless...they are naked. Naked women bring good luck (imagine that) so there are many bare-breasted figure heads meant to calm the seas.

3-Meeting a red head (ginger haired person for our British friends) while heading to the ship for a journey is bad luck unless you speak to them before they speak to you as in, "Hey there, Red, be sure you finish that banana before you step foot on this ship!" (Same goes for meeting a flat-footed person on your way to the ship.)

"Girl with Cat" by Paul Hoecker
4-Black cats on board are good luck! (But dogs near fishing tackle are bad.)

5-Killing an albatross brings misfortune.

6-Saying "Good Luck" or being wished "Good Luck" is actually bad luck and can only be reversed by drawing blood as in "Sorry 'bout punching you in the nose but you shouldn't have know...what you said."

7-Having a child born aboard ship is good luck. (Hmmm...see superstition number 2.)

8-Cutting your hair or nails while at sea is bad luck.

9-Having flowers on board ship is bad luck.

10-Wearing gold hoop earrings is good luck for your sea voyage.

"H.M.S. Blonde" by Robert Dampier
11-Stepping aboard with your right foot first is good luck (conversely, left foot boardage is bad.)

12-Throwing stones into the sea will bring its wrath upon your ship.

13-Sailing out on a Friday is very bad luck. 

So, if you meet a flat-footed, red-haired, fully dressed woman wearing flowers in her hair eating bananas who is heading for your ship, take action before she has the chance to say "Good Luck" or be prepared to carry out appropriate counter measures!

Have a good week, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!



Emily Sutton said...

Loved reading this!

Kathryn Louise Wood said...

Thanks Emily! It was great fun researching it. Love your Avatar. Be sure you don't speak 'til spoken to as you're heading for the ship!