The natural power of the sea

The natural power of the sea has always been considered terrifying. This has resulted in numerous superstitions among sailors, which last to this day.

In the past a whistling sailor was punished by being strapped to the mast-yard during a storm. An unwritten taboo on lighting a cigarette from a burning candle also still exists, as does the habit of not entering the name of a destination port into the boat log book before actually reaching it. A bucket or a dishcloth falling overboard or a flag passed in between the rungs of a ladder are believed to be bad luck too. The way one sneezes seems to hold some sway on our fortunes as, performed on the left side of the boat it brings misfortune, but on the right - prosperity.

Friday is generally considered unlucky by sailors. For that reason, until the second half of the twentieth century, ships were not launched from many yards on this day and, even now, masters tend to avoid commencing a voyage on Friday.

Sailors treat Neptune to a shot of vodka by pouring it into the sea at important moments during a voyage. Ship masters, to ensure the boat’s happy return home, place a coin under the foot of the mast, as it is supposed to protect the vessel against any dangers at sea. Should the ship sink along with the entire crew, the coin is also to serve as Charon‘s fee.

"Zwyczaje i Ceremoniał Morski" by E. Koczorowski, published in Gdańsk, 1972, by "Wydawnictwo Morskie" Publishing House
"Encyklopedia żeglarstwa" edited by J. Czajewski, published in Warsaw, 1996, by Polish Scientific Publishers PWN