Sailors tend to be superstitious people. It's probably because crossing oceans used to be such a risky and uncertain activity, but early sailors seemed to think if they followed a few rules they'd see land again. We, of course, know that it's more about having a wellfound boat and the skills to run the thing that keeps you off the rocks. But we can still rattle off a few beliefs we've heard through the years:
- it's good luck to smash a bottle of champagne against the boat just before launching
- black cats on board are good luck (we'll limit this to one black cat)
- it's good luck to step aboard using the right foot first
- a bare breasted woman on the bow can calm a savage sea
- it's unlucky to name the boat with a word ending in "a"
- it's bad luck to change the name of a boat without a renaming ceremony
- it's bad luck to sail on a Friday
- the word "drown" can never be spoken at sea or it may summon up the actual event
- Seabirds are thought to carry the souls of dead sailors
- Whistling, cutting nails and trimming beards at sea will cause storms
- Banana's are bad luck to have on a boat
Somewhere along the line I decided rather than fighting superstitions, we'd embrace them. All of them. Which is why if you visit our boat you'd discover we have a Mayan corn god in the galley (to ensure we never go hungry) an Aztec sun god near the door - for happiness and health, a few versions of Yemaya who is known as Queen of the Ocean, a Huichol Indian carved Virgin Mary, a Ganesh (dipped in the river Ganges for extra protection) and a few other assorted gods, goddesses and spiritual items.
Most recently we added a carved raven paddle to the collection. Paddles carved by First Nations people on the North Coast are said to help ensure a boat will always find its way home again. But we got the paddle because it's a beautiful piece of art. Really.