We always urge our friends and clients to christen their boats properly and in keeping with tradition – just in case. So, before witnessing yet another boat christening recently of one of our clients, we discussed the superstitions about re-naming and christening a boat with them. That discussion reminded me just how superstitious sailors of old were and how, even today we heed their warnings of bad luck at sea!
While we still have a healthy respect for the power of the sea today, we have a much easier time of it than the ancient mariners. With limited navigational tools and weather forecasting, sailing back then was a dangerous endeavor. Ancient sailors therefor believed in various superstitions to improve their chances of survival at sea. Today, most of these beliefs / superstitions are considered outdated, but many modern sailors continue to observe some of the traditions.
But as I said before, not everyone believes in superstitions. However this story of our friend’s “unlucky” boat should give everyone pause. This friend (who shall remain nameless), argued that these superstitions are all old wives tales and, since he bought a modern Dragonfly trimaran, he decided to skip the “christening ceremony”. Unfortunately this may have been a bad mistake. He had so many problems with that boat! His mast snapped in half, the outboard engine fell in the water and he sustained a nasty ding to his topsides, among other things.
He finally conceded that perhaps he made a mistake not christening the boat (after all, we christen the vessel for good luck and safe travel). He got rid of the trimaran in short order, bought another boat and promptly christened her properly. Needless to say, the boat and our friend, are now a very lucky and happy match!
Other superstitions that most sailors are familiar with is that bananas onboard are considered bad luck and that leaving port on a Friday is asking for trouble. These are just a few of the traditional maritime superstitions and myths believed by both ancient and some modern sailors. Read this article and find out how to avoid “bad luck” at sea. Sailing superstitions: 13 things never to do at sea!