A bare breasted figurehead of a woman will calm the seas
A life of danger and uncertainty has seafarers observing a strict set of rules steeped in myth and superstition.
Many sea going beliefs are based on the Bible, for example, Friday is the worst day to set out to sea.
Most sources credit that to the belief that Christ was crucified on a Friday.
Similarly, Sunday is the best day to begin a voyage, because Christ’s resurrection on that day is seen as a good omen. Thus the old adage, ‘Sunday sail, never fail.’
A traditional view for centuries was that women had no place at sea. They weren’t strong enough and men would be distracted from their duties, angering the seas and dooming a ship.
Lore has it, however, that a naked woman would calm the seas. That’s why many vessels have a bare breasted figurehead of a woman on the bow.
For hundreds of years bananas have been regarded as bad luck – reasons stem from causing ships to disappear to spider bites.
Pouring wine on the deck will bring good luck on a long voyage- it’s a libation to the gods.
Dolphins swimming with a ship are a good omen, while sharks following is a sign of inevitable death.
Black cats are considered lucky – not so flowers which could be used for a funeral wreath.
It’s unlucky to kill an albatross or a gull at sea, as they host the souls of dead sailors.
And whistling on the bridge will whistle up a storm.
Cutting your hair or nails at sea is a no-no. And don’t ever step onto a boat with your left foot, or stir a pot or coil a line counter clockwise.
Finally, marine myth has it that sailors pierced their ears to improve their eyesight. A gold earring was both a charm against drowning and the price paid to Davy Jones to enter the next world if a sailor died at sea.
And no matter what you believe, have a safe Friday the 13th.