Sailing the salt seas has always been one of mankind’s most dangerous missions. Despite dizzying advancements in technology over the centuries, it still remains a difficult and at times deadly occupation. For the men who fish for crab in Alaska’s Bering Sea, it can often seem downright nutty. Huge seas, dangerous condition on deck, and unconscionable working hours can make even the hardiest of men weary of his surroundings and of the supernatural forces that seem to control them.
That is why you will find no place more full of superstition than on the deck of a working ocean vessel. Years and years of experience make the fisherman certain of one thing; these superstitions are not to be taken lightly.
For instance bananas are terribly bad luck on board a ship, as are women and black suitcases. No sailor would ever be comfortable knowing that a priest or even some flowers are on board, as on a ship both seem to only be useful for funerals. If you think it’s a good idea to whistle while you work, you’ll soon find that you have whistled up a storm. You must, under all circumstances, step on board with your right foot first. And don’t ever, EVER, leave port on a Friday.
But not all superstitions bring about certain nautical doom. Some bring good luck. For instance, dolphins following in the wake of a ship are terrific good luck. Even though I mentioned before that women are seen as bad luck, a naked woman is good luck. (That’s right! Those figures on the bow of old sailing ships are not naked just because the guys have been at sea with a boat full of men for months and months.) And thankfully pouring wine on the deck is also good luck.
Well, I think I have found a new omen that can bring good luck to those at sea. Captain Sig Hansen of the F/V Northwestern, seen on the Discovery Channel’s immensely watchable reality television series about crab fishing on Alaska’s Bering Sea called The Deadliest Catch, has teamed up with the Rogue Brewery in Oregon to produce Captain Sig’s Deadliest Ale. Now the name may not sound like it brings good luck, after all the word “deadliest” doesn’t exactly inspire good feelings. But I am fairly certain that if you toast a glass of this beer to the health and well being of the fleet, it couldn’t hurt. And while you’re at it, toast to everyone else at sea. Again it can only help!
Posted by: David McBride