Whistling, Clapping, and Other Beliefs About Weather

Sailors have long held beliefs about the weather, and some of their superstitions have persisted to this day. Here are some of the most common ones:

Whistling Aboard a Boat

Sailors commonly believed that whistling aboard a boat would bring bad weather. They thought that whistling challenged the wind and caused it to increase, which could bring in a storm. Singing on a boat may also have been forbidden for the same reason. However, if sailors were stuck on windless waters, they may have whistled in hopes of coaxing a breeze to blow them onward.

Clapping On Board

Some seafarers also believed that clapping on board would bring thunder. This belief may have come from the idea that thunder was the sound of the gods clapping their hands. To avoid bringing thunderstorms, sailors may have refrained from clapping on board.

Throwing Stones into the Ocean

Another superstition was that throwing stones into the ocean would cause storms with large ocean swells. Sailors may have believed that disturbing the water in this way angered the sea gods, who would then lash out with storms.

Bringing an Umbrella onto a Ship

Mariners were also wary of bringing an umbrella onto a ship. Because umbrellas are used in bad weather, it was seen as tempting fate to bring one on board. Instead, sailors may have relied on waterproof clothing and other protective gear.

Nailing a Horseshoe to the Ship’s Mast

To protect against storms and other misfortunes, sailors sometimes nailed a horseshoe to the ship’s mast. This superstition may have originated from the belief that horseshoes were lucky and could ward off evil spirits.

Rear view of man throwing stones in water at beach

In conclusion, sailors had many superstitions about the weather and the sea. Some of these beliefs may seem strange to us today, but they were taken very seriously by sailors in the past. If you’re interested in learning more about sailors’ superstitions, check out our related articles on the topic.


The Truth About Women, Sirens, and Mermaids at Sea

Sailors have long held beliefs about women and mythical creatures at sea. Here are some of the most famous superstitions:

Bringing Women Aboard a Boat

One of the oldest and most well-known superstitions was that bringing women aboard a boat was bad luck. Sailors believed that women would distract them from their duties and arouse their passions, causing jealousy among crew members. This distraction was said to anger the ocean and cause bad weather or other revenge from the sea gods. However, this nautical superstition has been debunked, and women can now serve in the Navy and on fishing vessels without fear of bad luck.

Sirens and Mermaids

Early sailors attributed strange sounds they heard at sea to sirens and mermaids. Sirens, mythical creatures that are half-woman and half-bird, were fabled to lure sailors to their deaths by singing sweet songs that drew them into treacherous waters. Mermaids, half-woman and half-fish, were also blamed for the same deceptive songs. While these creatures are now recognized as mythical, they continue to fascinate and inspire stories.

Naked Women and Female Figureheads

Ironically, naked women were believed to calm the sea rather than agitate it. Many ship figureheads depict women with bare breasts for this reason. Sailors believed that the watchful eyes of the female figureheads guided the ship to safety. The ship itself was also referred to as “she,” because it acted as a protective mother that sheltered the sailors from an angry sea.

In conclusion, sailors’ superstitions about women and mythical creatures at sea have captured our imaginations for centuries. While some of these beliefs have been debunked, they continue to inspire stories and legends. If you’re interested in learning more about sailors’ superstitions, check out our related articles on the topic.

The Redhead Superstition:


Did you know that people with red hair were believed to be unlucky by sailors? Here’s what you need to know about this nautical superstition:

Redheads and Ships

Redheads were not welcome aboard ships and were avoided by sailors before beginning a journey. If a sailor met a red-headed person before boarding a ship, the sailor had to speak to the redhead before the redhead spoke to them. This would mitigate the bad luck of encountering a redhead before setting sail.

The Truth About Redheads and Luck

While it’s true that redheads were once thought to be unlucky, this superstition has been debunked. In fact, people with red hair are just as lucky as anyone else. So if you’re a redhead, don’t worry about any bad luck when boarding a ship or beginning a journey.

In conclusion, sailors’ superstitions about people with red hair have been around for centuries. However, there’s no truth to this belief, and redheads can rest assured that they’re just as lucky as anyone else. If you’re interested in learning more about nautical superstitions, check out our related articles on the topic.

Nautical Superstitions:

Words Sailors Avoided at Sea

Did you know that sailors had their own set of taboo words? Here are some words that seafarers avoided because they were believed to bring bad luck:

  • Drown
    Saying the word “drown” while on a boat was believed to summon the event itself.
  • Good Luck and Goodbye
    “Good luck” and “goodbye” were also forbidden, and it was unlucky for sailors’ wives to wave goodbye or call after their husbands once they left the house for a sea journey.
  • Words Pertaining to Land
    Other words pertaining to land brought bad luck if mentioned while at sea, such as pigs, foxes, rabbits, and church.
  • Swearing While Fishing
    Swearing while fishing was also seen as bad luck.

The Truth About Nautical Superstitions

While these superstitions may seem strange to us today, they were taken seriously by sailors in the past. In fact, many seafarers believed that breaking these taboos could bring disaster upon the ship and its crew. If you’re interested in learning more about nautical superstitions, check out our related articles on the topic.

In conclusion, sailors had their own set of taboo words that were believed to bring bad luck at sea. While these beliefs may seem outdated now, they were taken seriously by seafarers in the past.

Never Rename a Ship

According to seafaring superstition, once a ship is named and christened, changing its name is considered bad luck. Sailors believed that boats took on a life of their own once they were named, and renaming a ship was seen as an attempt to deceive the gods of the sea. Legend has it that every ship’s name was recorded in the “Leger of the Deep,” and changing the name without notifying Neptune, the God of the Sea, would result in his wrath.

Apart from the supernatural beliefs, early trading ships developed a reputation at ports based on their names. Changing a ship’s name could cause issues for the captain and crew while traveling and trading.

However, if a ship must be renamed, a de-naming ceremony is necessary before christening the boat again. This ceremony typically involves burning a piece of paper with the original name of the ship, placing the ashes in a box, and throwing them into the sea while the tide is going out. If the ceremony is performed away from the shore, the ashes can be thrown in a river to float downstream or in a lake during a full moon.

The de-naming ceremony may also involve removing all traces of the old name, including logbooks, paperwork, and the writing on the hull. Only after this official ceremony can the ship be christened again with its new name, and this is believed to ward off any potential bad luck.

Never Kill the Albatross

To avoid bad luck, sailors believed it was unlucky to kill an albatross. As depicted in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” a ship and its crew faced numerous misfortunes after a crew member shot a friendly albatross that had visited the boat. Many Seabirds are believed to carry the souls of deceased sailors, so killing one was considered a bad omen, while seeing one was considered a good sign.