Old Superstitions That Sailors Believed at Sea
October is a fascinating time to look back on traditions and discover the origins of them. It’s also a fun time to learn the myths and legends of different groups. Bonus points if you’re sharing these stories by a fire and there’s a wolf howling in the background.
This week, we wanted to learn more about what old sailors believed while away at sea. New Bedford is a strong fishing community, so it’s no wonder that there are a few we’ve come across.
Laura Orleans is the Executive Director at the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center. According to Orleans, many fishermen, especially those from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, once believed that to say the word "pig," or have live pigs or pork meat aboard had been extremely bad luck. “This comes from the belief that pigs can't swim. Oddly, when tattooing became popular at sea a rooster and a pig were often tattooed onto sailors' feet. It was believed that these animals would protect sailors from drowning by showing them the way to shore.” Apparently, the Fishing Heritage Center has a DVD with a wonderful story called "Funny Guy with a Curly Tail" in which Paul Doucette shares a story about his father, Captain Louis Doucette, and his lifelong superstitions about pigs.
Here are six superstitions that sailors once believe according to the New Zealand Maritime Museum.