Seven Sailor Superstitions

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about an important part of maritime history, which was nautical tattoos!

Over the years we have discussed the different superstitions that sailors used to have. Some of them are quite interesting, so therefore I wanted to include a few of them here:

1. No whistling on board~ Mariners have long held the belief that whistling or singing into the wind will «whistle up a storm».

2. Son of a gun~ Male children born on the ship were referred to as «son of a gun» because the most convenient place to give birth on deck (if you weren’t too afraid of having a woman on board) was on the gun deck. Having a male child on board was a sign of good luck.

3. No women on board~ Women were said to bring bad luck on board because they distracted the sailors from their sea duties. This kind of behaviour angered the intemperate seas that would take their revenge out on the ship

4. Dolphins~ Dolphins swimming with the ship are seen as a good sign.

5. Don’t kill an albatross~ Seabirds were thought to carry the souls of dead sailors and it is considered bad luck to kill one. However, it is considered good luck if you see one.

6. Flowers are bad omens~ Because flowers were associated with funerals and wreaths on graves, they were never brought onto ships.

7. Never rename a ship~ After a ship is named and christened, changing the name of a ship is considered bad luck. This may be because sailors believed their boats took on a mind of their own once they were named. Another explanation is that renaming a ship meant you were trying to trick the gods of the sea.

I hope you found any of these superstitions interesting 😄

Fair winds,



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