Jul 23

Maritime Superstitions Set Sail on the High Seas « Why Not?

Captain Bill Wright  Senior Vice President, Marine Operations for Royal Caribbean International


Maritime Superstitions Set Sail on the High Seas

Hi…. my name is Captain Bill Wright and I am Senior Vice President, Marine Operations for Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises. In this role my responsibilities are for the safe and reliable maritime operations of the combined fleets of both brands totaling 24 ships and a whopping 2,623,140 GRT.

The Royal fleet of course includes the two largest cruise ships in the world, the remarkable Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. I sometimes refer to my SVP position as my “day job” because over the years I have been extremely fortunate and honored to be the first Captain on several ships while still maintaining my land based responsibilities for the fleet. Most recently I was the first Captain on Oasis of the Seas and in 2006 the first Captain on Freedom of the Seas. I was also the first Captain on Celebrity Cruise’s Xpedition sailing to the Galapagos Islands, which happens to be the smallest ship in the company!

Adam asked me to write about maritime superstitions in about 500 words and I feel like I could use 500 pages as there is no shortage of seafaring superstitions! My problem is where to start…

Needless to say, maritime superstitions go back as far as man has gone to sea and that’s a long, long time! So here is a fun and interesting list of a few of them….

Black traveling bags are bad luck for a seaman.

Black is the color of death and indicative of the depths of the sea.

Avoid people with red hair when going to the ship to begin a journey.

Red heads bring bad luck to a ship, which can be averted if you speak to the red-head before they speak to you.

Never say good luck or allow someone to say good luck to you unanswered.

If someone says “good luck” to you, it is most assuredly a bad omen and sure to bring about bad luck. The only way this can be countered is by drawing blood. A swift punch in the nose is usually sufficient to reverse this curse.

Avoid Flat-footed people when beginning a trip.

Like with redheads, the danger can be avoided by speaking to them before they speak to you.

A stolen piece of wood mortised into the keel will make a ship sail faster.

A silver coin placed under the masthead ensures a successful voyage.

We actually still put coins under the keel of every new ship when they are built. When the ship is floated out of the dry-dock the coins are recovered and welded in a steel box usually on the forward mast to sail with the ship forever as good luck! You can learn more by watching this video:

Disaster will follow if you step onto a boat with your Left Foot first.

Pouring wine on the deck will bring good luck on a long voyage.

An offering to the gods……..%

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