How Much Do You Know About Superstitions At Sea?

10 Questions
How Much Do You Know About Superstitions At Sea?

If there was ever a more superstitious lot than sailors and seamen, we here at the Marine Special Products Group have yet to meet them. Being on the briny for months or, sometimes, years at a time could lead mariners to do some strange things to ensure their safe return. How well do you know your superstitions at sea? Take our quiz to find out. One superstition we believe to be true is that fortune favors the prepared. So after you take this quiz, sign up for a safe boating course. We’d say good luck but we won’t …

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Questions and Answers
  • 1. 
    Despite months in the doldrums without food or drink, which of the following fruits would draw looks of horror from a veteran seaman?
    • A. 

      Oranges

    • B. 

      Watermelons

    • C. 

      Bananas

    • D. 

      Apples

  • 2. 
    Lore has it that certain words, such as drowned, storm or good luck, are best never be uttered aboard a vessel at sea. Should you accidentally speak one of these verboten words or phrases, what should you expect?
    • A. 

      To have your head shaven and your hair released to the sea at eight bells

    • B. 

      To be punched in the nose

    • C. 

      To have your mouth washed out with soap

    • D. 

      To be locked in the bilge, far from an angered Poseidon

  • 3. 
    In most occupations, the sound of a content, whistling laborer would be viewed favorably by fellow workers and bosses alike. However, whistling at sea is thought to bring about what unhappy circumstance?
    • A. 

      A storm

    • B. 

      An angry sperm whale

    • C. 

      A tone-deaf Kraken

    • D. 

      An errant compas

  • 4. 
    Dolphins swimming beside your ship are as lucky as a shark swimming beside your vessel is unlucky. Which of the following creatures appearing on your boat is a sign of good fortune?
    • A. 

      A cormorant

    • B. 

      A penquin

    • C. 

      A swallow

    • D. 

      An albatross

  • 5. 
    Life at sea was primarily a masculine pursuit; women were said to bring bad luck. Despite the lack of feminine influence, proper manners were still important. Which of the following dining rituals did not bring bad luck?
    • A. 

      Turning a loaf of bread over after it had been cut

    • B. 

      Petting a black cat which approached during a meal

    • C. 

      Stirring a cup of tea with a fork or knife

    • D. 

      Cutting a piece of banana bread in quarters before eating it

  • 6. 
    The right weather window can influence when a ship leaves port. But even the calmest, clearest day is not suitable if it falls on an unlucky day for departure. Which of the following is viewed as a good day to start a journey?
    • A. 

      A Sunday, provided you haven’t spoken to a redhead on your way to your boat

    • B. 

      A Thursday, or Thor’s Day - the god of Storms

    • C. 

      The second Monday in August; the anniversary of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

    • D. 

      December 31st, the day Judas hung himself

  • 7. 
    While life at sea during a months-long voyage can get monotonous, it is critical to guard against behaviors which can bring bad luck. Which of the following should you avoid at all costs?
    • A. 

      Sleeping with your head pointed to the stern

    • B. 

      Allowing your hair, beard or nails to go untrimmed

    • C. 

      Breaking egg shells into tiny pieces

    • D. 

      Handing the salt directly to another crewman

  • 8. 
    As long as mariners have plied the seas, they have adorned themselves with tattoos. As superstition (and sometimes too much grog) govern the choice in tattoos, you would rarely see which of the following inked on a sailor?
    • A. 

      A swallow, which was thought to carry a deceased mariners soul to heaven

    • B. 

      A cormorant, capable of great feats of swimming and soaring

    • C. 

      A pig or rooster, whose storage crates could be used as flotation devices in a shipwreck

    • D. 

      A tortoise, which depicted veteran mariner status

  • 9. 
    Thoughts about luck and good fortune are not limited to the time spent aboard a vessel. Prior to departure, which of following is thought to bring good luck?
    • A. 

      Punching someone in the nose after they’ve wished you good luck

    • B. 

      Bumping into a person with red hair

    • C. 

      Discovering that a new friend or companion has flat feet

    • D. 

      Having a nun cross your path

  • 10. 
    Superstitions about luck extend to what a mariner brings aboard a vessel. Of the following, which would a sailor bring aboard to assure good fortune smiles upon him and the vessel?
    • A. 

      A black sea bag

    • B. 

      A can of pea soup

    • C. 

      Flowers for the captain

    • D. 

      The caul of a newborn