Sailing Superstitions (from Bailey Island, Maine)

Sailors and superstitions… they go hand-in-hand, right?

There have been a number of cruisers talking about the sailor’s superstition survey, and it got me thinking… am I really superstitious?

Um, yes. Absolutely. I try not to admit just how superstitious I am, actually. It’s embarrassing.

In case you’re interested, here are Leah’s Top 3 Sailing Superstitions:

  • Never, EVER, refer to the weather conditions directly (good or bad). This includes mentioning “what a lovely day of sailing we’ve had” five minutes before you’ve actually dropped the anchor (or those five minutes will be the most hell-bent, hair-raising, fear-inducing, five minutes of your life). This also includes as complaining about how bad it’s been, because “I wish it would calm down out here” = not a breath. of. wind for the next four days. Much safer to simply ignore the weather entirely.
Brio under sail in North Carolina

A beautiful day, right? But we KNOW BETTER than to comment on the weather!!

  • If you MUST mention the weather, or anything generally positive onboard, find yourself a dead tree to knock on. I don’t actually think I’ve met a sailor who doesn’t knock on wood. “The holding tank has been working wonderfully… knock on wood”, “Our new alternator bracket will make it to Maine… knock on wood”, “I think a few weevils will give us extra protein, not sore tummies… knock on wood” 😉 Thankfully most boats have a plethora of wood around to knock on, but if you’re really stuck we’ve decided knocking on your heads substitutes quite nicely. Bonus points if you can knock on your partner’s head 🙂
I learned to knock on wood at a young age

I learned to knock on wood at a young age

  • Oh my goodness don’t think about leaving on a Friday. My parents actually inflicted this one on me. Four years of cruising, 37,000+ nm, and we never once started a passage on a Friday. Now we knew of people that left on Fridays (mostly from their distress calls and the bad-weather-bash-ups-stories they told later) (I kid… mostly) but we never followed suit. Just hoped for their sake that they’d have a good trip (knock on wood). Joking aside, the boats I know of that sank / were scuttled / were somehow lost at sea… all left on a Friday. WHO WANTS TO TEMPT FATE THAT WAY???
  • Speaking of fate, Sea Gods must be appeased. We sacrificed to Neptune when we crossed the equator, we appeal to him when the weather isn’t ideal, and we definitely don’t complain (out loud) about the job Mother Nature is doing. Better safe than sorry, you know??

    My sister being recognized by King Neptune as we cross the equator (1998)

    My sister being recognized by “King Neptune” as we cross the equator (1998)

So I think, actually, that I should blame my parents for all these darned superstitions… it seems they not only implanted them, they actively encouraged a few of them!! But, annoying as they can be, following the “superstition rules” has definitely kept us safe.

Well, so far.

Knock on wood 😉


PS – If you want to read about other cruisers’ superstitions, just go Google “sailing superstitions survey” and you’ll find all sorts of recent posts!

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