Good Luck Superstition

Common superstitions thought to bring good fortune.

sailing superstition

Good Luck Superstition? Much of the history of superstitions began at sea. Here's a collection of common superstitions that sailors of old believed brought good luck to a voyage.

In an environment over which they had very little control, sailors of old believed in the power of superstitions to bring them safely home from the sea.

Evidently they didn't have much faith in their Captains to bring them home.

Meaning was found in commonplace events like an overturned shoe or an encounter with a black cat.

Superstitious old tars would seek to repeat events that they believed were responsible for a previous successful journey. If one threw an old pair of shoes overboard as they departed on the last voyage, and the ship and crew stayed safe, obviously it was the shoes (wink).

They Were Scared...And For Good Reason

Sometimes voyages lasted for years and many sailors and boats never returned from their journey. Going to sea was scary stuff and superstition gave the sailors a sense of control over their circumstance. Anything that might have occurred just prior to a successful voyage could become a good omen.

Following are some popular old nautical superstitions that mariners believed brought good luck.

Common Superstitions of Old Time Mariners.

  • Smash a bottle against the hull of the boat before beginning a voyage to ensure a safe return. Make sure it breaks! If it doesn't, it could bring bad luck
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  • An old Good Luck Superstition includes stepping aboard using the right foot first to start the journey off on the right foot.
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    black cat

  • Having a black cat aboard brings a sailor safely home from sea.
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  • Wearing an earring ensures that a sailor won't drown. It's been learned that lifejackets are more efficient. I'd get both, just in case
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  • A naked woman on board calms the sea and ensures smooth sailing.
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  • Tattoos provide protection for sailors.
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  • A child born on the ship brings good luck to all aboard.
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  • Toss an old pair of shoes overboard as you depart on a journey and good luck follows you on the voyage.
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  • The caul of the head of a newborn baby is protection against drowning and will bring the owner good luck. (eeeuuuwwwww)
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  • Neptune likes rum and the offer of a shot overboard ensures his protection for the duration of the journey. We share whatever we're drinking with neptune when we're beginning a voyage. He seems to like tequila and wine too.
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  • Swallows seen while at sea are a happy sign.
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  • Good luck abounds when dolphins are seen swimming with the ship goes an ancient Good Luck Superstition.
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  • A gecko living on board is viewed as good luck. They eat bugs too.
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  • Placing a silver coin beneath the mast (heads up) ensures the vessel has successful commissions.
    Pacific Jade (our boat) had a Canadian silver dollar under the mizzen mast when we unstepped it for repairs. We made sure the coin was there when the mast went back in.
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  • Pouring wine on deck prior to departure on a long journey pleases the gods and ensures a safe voyage. (It doesn't do much for the decks though)
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  • To avoid dying by shipwreck a sailor can carry the feather of a wren that was slain on New Year's Day. (hhhmmmm...)
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  • To keep storms away secure a horseshoe to the mast.
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The other side of the coin is what not to do. Things or events to be avoided lest they put the crew in peril. Many old tars would go to considerable effort to avoid any salty superstition that might bring bad luck.

Visitors to our Good Luck Superstition page may also be interested in the following pages

Avoid These Things and You'll be Okay
Sailing Vacation Lists

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