The Top 10 Funniest Boating Superstitions

When it comes to boating, it can feel like it doesn't matter what you do, some one on board will point out to you that it's bad luck to be doing what ever it is that you are doing. These superstitions date back longer than anyone on Earth has been alive, and it is up to the salty superstitious pirates to keep the fear alive. We have gathered a list of the ten that we believe are the most ridiculous.... but are they really?


1. No Whistling a Tune on a Boat

This one really hits home with me because I am an avid and constant whistler. Whether doing chores around the house and getting through day to day tasks for work, I catch myself whistling all the time. So to be on board a catamaran, a Leopard 45 to be exact, and have the captain tell me that whistling will whistle up a storm was a reality check, considering my intentions were to be on this boat for the next seven days.   

2. Bananas are Bad

There are a few different theories floating around out there as to why bananas are banned onboard. One theory, dating back to the 1700's, suggests that in most instances where ships disappeared, they were carrying bananas. Another theory is that a deadly spider would lurk inside banana bushels and their deadly bite would kill the crewmen. Whether the tale is true or not is up for you to decide, but being an arachnophobic, I'll leave the bananas at home.  

3. Forget Friday Departures 

Friday is just considered to be an unlucky day, plain and simple. There is an urban myth story that, fed up with the Friday fear, the Royal Navy named a ship HMS Friday.Her keel was set on a Friday, she was launched from the docks on a Friday, and she set sail on her maiden voyage on Friday the 13th, in the hands of specifically assigned Captain James Friday. After launching, the ship was never seen again.

4. Tattoo a Rooster and a Pig to Each Foot

Put a rooster on the top of your right foot and a pig on the top of your left foot, and the word on the street is that this will keep you from drowning. Some sources say this idea stemmed from light weight wooden pig and roosters cages being used as personal flotation devices in case of a ship wreck.

5. Hazing the Pollywogs

A line-crossing ceremony is an initiation that commemorates a person's first crossing of the Equator. "Pollywogs" or, people crossing the equator for the first time, are summoned into Neptune's Court for crimes committed against the god. Thus ensues a ceremony put on by "Neptune" for the Pollywogs to prove that they are worthy. 

6. The Boat Name is the Boat Name

You get what you pay for. It is considered bad luck to rename your new sailing yacht, so make sure you love the name if you are buying used! That sounds like a big commitment. If you absolutely must rename your yacht, not to worry, there is a way. It will requires a de-naming ceremony and officially christening the boat again. Ye be warned, without following time-honored traditions, you can incur the wrath of Poseidon, the god of the sea.

7. Cats are Catamaran Friendly

While superstitions on land say that black cats are bad luck, on a boat cats are cool. It is known that sailors used to adopt "ship cats" in hopes of bringing good luck to the voyage. They also believed that cats had super powers, and they could predict the weather by exercising certain behaviors like licking their fur, purring , or kneading. Sailors would consider it good luck if they were approached by the "ship cat".

8. Watch Your Words

Unless you wish drowning upon yourself, you should refrain from using the word while on a sailing voyage. While sailors are known for having a foul mouth, there are some things you just don't say! Saying "good luck" and "goodbye" are both a full-proof way to bring misfortune onto the entire vessel! Instead of wishing someone luck, perhaps saying "break a leg" would be the better choice in this scenario. Regarding "goodbye",  the jury is out on if any form of of expressing good wishes upon departure or ending a conversation is acceptable. 

9. Discrimination at it's Finest

My least favorite superstition of them all is this one: No Women Allowed on Board. This superstition reminds me a of the "He Man Women Haters Club"  if you are familiar with the Little Rascals. Women were said to be a distraction to the captain and crew, and they would stir up jealousy aboard the ship. These ill-willed feelings were said to stir up the sea. Fortunately for me, and all my other sailing ladies out there, this superstition  sank to the bottom of the ocean where it was laid to rest. Women can serve in the Navy, or on any ship for that matter, without any need to worry.

10. Babies Born Aboard Bring Good Fortune

This directly contradicts #9. Does this mean that women aren't allowed onboard unless that are planning on going into labor during the journey? Having a baby aboard a sailing ship sounds like any woman's worst nightmare. But hey, if it will bring good luck to the voyage, why not? It is said that when a male baby was born on a boat, the mother would give birth on the gun deck, thus coining the phase "Son of a Gun".


The above superstitions are not reflective of the beliefs of Leopard Brokerage. They are simply a means to give anyone reading a good chuckle! My research showed that there are plenty more boating superstitions out there, the ones listed above just happened to be our favorite.


Katie Campbell

As a Marketing Manager for yacht sales, I have found my passion in promoting the catamaran cruising lifestyle. With a love for sailing and a deep understanding of the industry, I am committed to helping others discover the freedom and adventure of life on the water.

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