Seagulls, Spitting, and the Curse of Women


Superstitions. What a load of nonsense. Any reasonable human being knows that throwing salt over your shoulder won’t really keep the devil at bay, and black cats have no less luck than a pure white Himalayan. But don’t dare say that to a seaman’s face.

Sea going men have always been a superstitious lot. Based in the inherent risks of sailing, these good or bad luck instances became attributed to the welfare of a seaman, sailor, fisherman, and crew. The lore quickly became truth in the men’s eyes. What other way can you explain the ever shifting craziness of the sea but through crazy tales?

  • Seagulls

These rats of the sky were thought to carry the souls of dead sailors. As annoying as they are, and as much of a mess they can make on your newly washed car don’t you dare shoot one down or it’ll cause bad luck. However, it’s considered good luck if you spot one. Go figure.

  • Spitting

Thought to keep the evil spirits away. Just don’t do it right after someone finished swabbing the deck. Gross.

  • No Girls Allowed

This one is pretty obvious. Women are too much of a distraction on board and the sea would take her revenge out on the ship. Strangely enough, a naked woman would calm the sea. That’s why many a figurehead is carved into the comely shape of a lady. Her bare breasts shamed the stormy storms into calm.

  • What’s in a Name

Boats are a living breathing thing once you name and christen one so don’t bring bad luck on yourself by renaming it. If you have to rename her, make sure to have a de-naming ceremony to not offend her. Write the current name on a piece of paper and place it in a box. Burn baby burn! Scoop up the ashes and respectfully toss them into the sea.

  • Choose your sailing day carefully

Don’t sail on Friday or Thursday, but Sundays are OK.

  • Son of a gun

Any male children born on board were called sons of the gun because the gun deck was the most convenient place to give birth. This usually occurred while in port, see above No Girls Allowed.



  1. Tom Threadgill

    Really enjoyed this J’nell! Seagulls are vermin for sure. Keep writing!

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Thanks Tom! You’re so right, those birds are a huge pain.


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