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Superstition: The Seas' Ruler

Updated on January 9, 2013
Kronstadt, Monument of the Revolutionary Sailor.
Kronstadt, Monument of the Revolutionary Sailor. | Source


Searching and knowing about different superstitions around the world has always been a matter of interest for me. As a result being raised by the bank of mighty Rivers near sea in my boyhood, I came to know different superstition which sailors and fishermen homage. It is strange that still in this modern age, many captains, sailors and fishermen are still superstitious. Many ancestors of them were in maritime ventures and their superstitions along with customs and rituals are passed on generations after generations.

Tackling danger and being in constant uncertainty made them conservative and superstitious. Since they can’t control natural phenomenon, they rely on superstitions to avoid them.

Lets see what controls the seas.

  • To name the ship with a word/s ending with “a” brings bad luck.
  • As priests sometimes wear black gowns, they are not good for ship.
  • Killing a swallow, albatross, gull or dolphin brings bad luck. They are believed to carry the souls of dead sailors
  • Seeing swallow in the voyage is a good sign. So is the dolphin.
  • Flat footed people are unlucky.
  • Egg shells should be torn into pieces (not just a 2 pieces).
  • Having Bananas on board is an omen of disaster.
  • Friday is the worst day to start a journey.
  • Never start a journey on the first Monday of April, second Monday of August and 31st December.
  • Tattoos and pierces keep devil away.

Among sailors it's a traditional tattoo to get on their first voyage.
Among sailors it's a traditional tattoo to get on their first voyage. | Source
  • Black Travelling bag is bad luck for a seaman. Black is the color of death.
  • First step on a ship with left foot brings disaster.
  • Throwing stones in the sea cause great storms.
  • Flowers are not welcomed onboard. They are used in funeral wreath for the dead, therefore, becoming a symbol that someone could die on the voyage.
  • Cutting hairs and nails onboard is bad luck.
  • Never stir a cup of tea with fork or knife.
  • Don’t pass salt in dining. –“Pass salt, pass sorrow”.
  • Taking a watch to sea brings significant bad luck.
  • Mentioning the words- Fox, Cat, Hare, Salmon and Rabbits can bring bad luck.
  • Dolphins swimming with the ship are the sign of good luck. Dolphins are considered as seaman’s good friend and their presence indicate that the ship is under their protection.
  • “Fiddlers Green” is call to those deceased sailors who served more than 50 years in sea.
  • The whole will be in danger if the clothes of a dead sailor is worn by another sailor in same voyage.
  • Repairing a flag in the quarterdeck brings bad luck.
  • A Shark following the ship is the sign of inevitable death.
  • No turning back look after the ship leaves the port. It may bring bad luck.
  • Naming a ship after an engaged woman brings bad luck.

  • No whistling in wheelhouse or anywhere on board. It may cause “Whistling up the Storm”.
  • A statue of a naked woman on the bow calms the sea and her open eyes ensure safety.
  • Coins are thrown to sea when a ship leaves port expecting this will please the god of sea, Neptune.
  • Horseshoes on ship’s mast keeps away storms.
  • Seeing a Cat on the way by a seaman to the port for starting a voyage brings good luck.
  • Rats leaving the ship is sign of bad luck.
  • Speaking the word “drown” can lead the ship to said condition.
  • Monta rays are considered ill thing for a ship. It is feared that they can stick themselves with anchor and drag the ship the bottom of the sea.
  • Fishermen in Scotland consider a left boot caught in net instead of fish a very bad luck. Whenever a left boot is found in the net, they spit in it before tossing it back to water. Catching a right boot is considered as good luck and always fastened to the mast believing that it will bring fortune.

A Little story about a superstition-

Christ was crucified on Friday. The superstition of not starting a voyage on Friday became viral by 1800's century. The British Government was unhappy of wasting a day for superstition. They thought of taking strong measure to prove the falseness of the superstition. They laid the keel of a ship of Friday, recruited all the crews on a Friday, launched the ship on Friday and named her HMS Friday. The ship was under in command of Captain James Friday and was set sail for her maiden (first) voyage on a Friday. Everything was well up to this point but after this she nor her any crew was never seen or heard again. HMS Friday is a urban legend.

A superstition for all women

If a woman sees a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it means she will marry a sailor. If she sees a sparrow, she will marry a poor man and be very happy. If she sees a goldfinch, she will marry a millionaire.

Ships in a Storm on a Rocky Coast
Ships in a Storm on a Rocky Coast | Source


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    • tehjib profile image

      Kudrat-E-Khuda Barat 5 years ago from Bangladesh

      Hi Tom,

      What type of picture you want?

    • profile image

      tommo schneider 5 years ago

      from bangladesh send me some some photos Tehjib

    • tehjib profile image

      Kudrat-E-Khuda Barat 5 years ago from Bangladesh

      Dear Tom,

      What could be a pleasure for me than a reader who is a sailor. I am honored. I am seeing that the superstitions are still around.

      Thanks a lot for visiting and sharing your experience.

    • profile image

      tommo schneider 5 years ago

      Hi im Tom i work on a prawn trawler up in the gulf of Carpenteria (Australia) as first mate i have worked with a lot of skippers that have been in the inderstry most of there life thay are still very superstitious manly not too go out to sea with bannas or out on fridays I have taken a green deck out he had red hair 3 years ago the season goes for 10weeks it starts 1 April till 16 June we left on 30 March my skipper would not go to sea on the first going back to takeing the red head out on averidge in the season we will catch 120 tonne - 150 tonne most of the catch in the first 4 weeks average 60 to 80 tonne we got 35 tonne in the first 4 weeks the rest of our fleet averidge was 65 tonne

      the skipper said to me {I BET ITS THE RED HEAD GREENY} moral to this is a lot sea fairing seaman may use it as a excuse

    • tehjib profile image

      Kudrat-E-Khuda Barat 5 years ago from Bangladesh

      I am really Glad that you find it worthy.

      Thanks a lot to you too for reading and encouraging!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is a very interesting post to read. I have heard of the dolphins being a good sign. Learned lots of new things today. Thanks for the education. Well done.

    • tehjib profile image

      Kudrat-E-Khuda Barat 5 years ago from Bangladesh


      I was really surprised at the first time I read about it.

      Thanks for stopping by. Take care you too ! :)

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      I grew up near the town that the film Perfect Storm was based on so I am with you pal. The sailor superstitions are vast and very much a part of maritime culture, not to mention the sirens. Take care!

    • tehjib profile image

      Kudrat-E-Khuda Barat 5 years ago from Bangladesh

      Hi pstraubie48,

      I wonder if there is any people found in this world who out of any superstitions. It is everywhere.

      Thanks for reading and your comment.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      O my.....there are so many things that are bad luck that I would have been a disaster on a ship...still would be today. This was interesting...thanks for sharing. :) ps

    • tehjib profile image

      Kudrat-E-Khuda Barat 5 years ago from Bangladesh

      I really don't I guess. Hahahahaha :)

    • farhin s kabir profile image

      Farhin Sohan Kabir 5 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      first to comment.. :D

      looks like you cant have enough with those superstitions, can you :P