Sunday, July 31, 2011

Second Show Sunday

Because Sunday is the day of rest for so many (and stats are famously low on Sundays) I am going to post some blogs from long ago.  I realize some of you might have already read them - but most of you probably haven't.  So grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and enjoy this blast from the past...because sometimes, things are better the second time around...


Marine Superstitions

I have always been somewhat of a superstitious person.  I try not to walk under ladders, I don't put new shoes on the table, black cats crossing my path sort of creep me out and if I break a mirror, I worry a bit. Superstitions, however,  don't rule my life, but if I can avoid, say, a black cat from crossing my path by crossing the street or turning around quickly, I will.  In my opinion, if there is even the remotest chance that I actually can control/avoid 'bad luck' - I'll give it a crack.  I don't want to tempt fate.  The Universe works in very mysterious ways...

No world is more riddled with superstition than the world of the sea.  I've always known of the true blue sailor superstitions such as "bananas on a boat are bad luck" (you'll slip on the peel and fall overboard), dolphins swimming with your ship is a sign of good luck,  "don't whistle on a boat" (it will raise a gale) and, yes, I've always been aware of the sexist superstition that "a woman on a boat brings bad luck" (apparentlywe 'anger' the sea).  I was not aware, however, that a NAKED woman on board will actually "calm the sea" (hence the naked figureheads adorning bows).  Riiiiiigggghhht.  Anyone else see a little discrepancy here?  I've got to hand it to those sailors of yesteryear though, they really knew how to work an angle.  I wonder how many seasick women ran around in their birthday suits when a storm hit or the waves got a little out of hand? Very 'age of Aquarius'.

Turns out - there are some pretty wacky nautical superstitions out there. Here are a few gems:
  • Black traveling bags are bad omens for sailors.
  • Avoid flat-footed people when beginning a trip BUT the bad luck can be averted if you speak to the flat-footed person before they speak to you.
  • Avoid red-headed people when beginning a trip BUT (like the above) the bad luck can be averted if you speak to the red head before they speak to you.
  • The caul of a newborn is protection against drowning and will bring the owner good luck (FYI 'caul' is essentially the amniotic sac....ummmmm who OWNS this sort of thing!?!).
  • The feather of a wren slain on New Years Day will protect a sailor from dying in a shipwreck.
Who comes up with this stuff?!  And to anyone out there who owns any part of the amniotic sac and carries it around for good luck - please seek help.

Sailors are a very superstitious bunch, and I'm guessing it has everything to do with the fact that, once at sea, we have very little control of the world around us  and adhering to little tokens and rituals helps us to feel like we have a hand in our fate.  Superstitions provide a sense of security and confidence.  That, and the fact that sailors like their women in the buff.  Who can blame 'em?

There is a tremendous amount of power in belief and maybe - just maybe if Scott and I offer Neptune some libations and goodies along our journey (hope he likes Rum!), he'll take good care of us! It's worth a shot (literally)! 

Fingers crossed,

Brittany & Scott


Tweed said...

There are lots of very strange superstitions out there.

I think that the banana one comes about because they will cause other fruits and vegetables stored near them to ripen, and go bad, more quickly. I Believe this is because they release ethane gas as they ripen?

The French in particular will not have the word "rabbit" uttered on their boats. - they chew ropes presumably (the rabbits not the French)?

An Italian I know will not have lentils on his boat - he cooks a mean lentil stew, but not on his boat!

Don't paint a boat green - arsenic in the paints of old would poison you

Never sail on a Friday

Never change the name of a boat.

Ford said...

From one of my favorite books, Dickens' David Copperfield:

I was born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going people were short of money about that time, or were short of faith and preferred cork jackets, I don't know; all I know is, that there was but one solitary bidding, and that was from an attorney connected with the bill-broking business, who offered two pounds in cash, and the balance in sherry, but declined to be guaranteed from drowning on any higher bargain. Consequently the advertisement was withdrawn at a dead loss ... and ten years afterwards, the caul was put up in a raffle down in our part of the country, to fifty members at half-a-crown a head, the winner to spend five shillings. I was present myself, and I remember to have felt quite uncomfortable and confused, at a part of myself being disposed of in that way. The caul was won, I recollect, by an old lady with a hand-basket.... It is a fact which will be long remembered as remarkable down there, that she was never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at ninety-two.

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