Sailor’s Superstition: Why Are Green Boats Unlucky?

We have all heard of a few superstitions or two, such as don’t walk under a ladder, or cross paths with a black cat, breaking a mirror will give you seven years of bad luck, and the list goes on. One superstition that caught my attention is that sailors believe green ships are unlucky. I like to think that green is lucky, look at the four-leaf clover. So why are green boats unlucky to sailors?

Green boats are considered unlucky by sailors because the color green is associated with land, and sailors believed that painting a boat green would cause the vessel to run aground. Sailors would make sure that there was nothing green on their ships, including ropes. They would inspect everything to make sure there were no specks of green paint anywhere. 

Pretty intriguing is not? I found it quite interesting. We have more info on green boats and why they are unlucky, as well as some more captivating sea superstitions that you may or may not have heard of already. Let’s test out our sea legs and sail into the world of sea superstitions!

The Color Green 

The color green is typically associated with good luck. We have the four-leaf clover, which is said to bring anyone who finds one good karma. However, these clovers are very hard to find, so good luck coming across one. But, someone does find one from time to time!

Green is said to be a lucky color because it is associated with:

  • Wealth
  • Fertility
  • Resurrection
  • Hope 
  • Peace
  • Success
  • Purity
  • Cleanliness
  • Nature 
  • Ecology 
  • Environment

So, why is green sometimes associated with bad luck? Here are some things why green is considered bad luck

  • Cause a boat to hit land 
  • Cause a race car to crash 
  • Infidelity 
  • Envy

These are just a few things in case you are curious about the color green, luck, or lack of it. Let’s paddle on to the next topic, shall we?

The Reason Why Green Boats Are Unlucky

As mentioned earlier, green boats are considered unlucky by sailors because the color green is associated with land, and therefore will cause the vessel to crash into earth. A sailor’s superstition, so we don’t really know if this is true or not. Never say that to a seaman, though! They take their fears very seriously.  

Another reason why green boats are unlucky according to seamen is that that green refers to mold. Mold could oxidize the beautiful wood of sailing ships dated back to ancient times. Therefore, sailors would never paint their boat green, accept a green boat, or had any hue of the color green. 

Nar, Me Matey, Not A Green Boat I Say!

Sailors also associated green with the greenish color of the dead—specifically the corpses of naval officers out at sea. If sailors had a long trip ahead of them, and some were unlucky and did not survive the journey, the body would have to wait until the ship reached the end of its travel and released to the family. 

Bringing green plants onto a boat is another reason why green boats are unlucky. The superstition claims that bringing green plants on a ship is bad luck. Green plants are connected to the earth and are associated with funerals. Therefore, having a green plant on the vessel will bring bad luck and perhaps even death.

So to avoid this, sailors would ban any green plants from boarding the vessel. Better to be safe than sorry, especially if out on a long journey. 

Is Fate Stacked Against Green Boats?

All these reasons make for a great case as to why this superstition would make sense to sailors. However, this should not stop anyone who loves the color green from getting a green boat. Green is associated with good luck as well.  

If you are one for superstitions, you may want to stick with colors like white, blue, or red. 

After researching this intriguing superstition, I found myself wanting more! So I did some more research on other fears that pertain strictly to boats. You are in for a treat today. I thought I’d share some of the superstitions that I found interesting. 

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. If you know of any more that are not listed here, please drop a line and share the superstition! 

Other Sailor Superstitions

As promised, here is a list and brief description of many at sea superstitions created by sailors on the sea.  

Women Onboard A Sea Vessel Is Terrible Luck 

Women were not as strong as men, so sailors felt there was no need for a woman onboard their ship. Also, women were said to be a distraction for men, and that they would not be able to fulfill their duties on the boat if there were a woman there. Having a woman on board would anger the sea; however, having a naked woman on board would calm the sea. How silly is that? 

Many sailors have a bare-breasted woman on the bow of their ship, hoping that it will calm the sea. The woman’s breasts were said to embarrass stormy seas into calming. This one seems a little far fetched and would only take it with a grain of salt. 

No Bananas On The Ship 

Bringing bananas on a sea vessel is a no-no. On ancient ships having bananas were not allowed because they would ferment and give off methane gas. This gas would then get trapped in the lower deck, which was not good because the crew slept in the lower layer of the ship. 

Then we have the bananas left on the bridge that would cause the team to slip and fall superstition.

Fridays Are A No Sail Day

 According to seamen, Friday is the worst day to head out to sea. The most common reason for the no sail on Friday is that Christ was sentenced to death on a Friday. So, Fridays are to be respected, and any that journey out to sea will be unlucky. 

Ships are said to have disappeared and lost at sea for venturing out on a Friday.

Black Traveling Bags Are Bad Luck

Black is the color of death and the deep dark sea. So, a black traveling bag brings lousy luck to seamen.

Gingers Are Bad Luck

If a crewman comes across a redhead before boarding his vessel, then he better talk first. If a redhead says something before the crewman, then the journey is set for bad luck.

Killing An Albatross Is Bad Luck

An Albatross is a seabird that holds the souls of dead sailors. Killing one is not the best omen, especially at sea, and will bring bad luck.

Davy Jones Locker

Sailors that were lost at sea or died a violent death are said to go to Davy Jones Locker. 

Never Whistle In The Wheelhouse

You’ll whistle up a storm and put the boat and crew members at risk.

Never Change The Name Of A Boat

Changing the name of a vessel will bring back luck. 

It Is Bad Luck To Look Back Once Vessel Has left Port

You will bring bad luck to the ship and yourself if you look back once you have departed the Port. Looking back suggests that a sailor is not ready to head out to sea.

Conclusion

There are lots of superstitions when it comes to sailors. We don’t know if these are true or not. I’m sure many are skeptical of these superstitions. However, some take it seriously. We understand that the crewmen of a ship most certainly do.

I hope this article helped you in our search for why green boats are unlucky. There was a bit of a bonus since you were given a bunch of different superstitions, according to sailors, and I hope you enjoyed reading all about them. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe to Boating Guide Magazine.  We have great articles for all boat lovers! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Dolphins A Sign Of Good Luck Out At Sea?

Yes, Dolphins are said to be a sign of good luck to sailors. The dolphin is said to be a revered friend of sailors. They are supposed to be protectors of seamen when out on their journey. Seeing dolphins while out on a long trip would put the sailors at ease at their minds 100% on their duties.

I love this dolphin statue, don’t you?

Are All Hues of Green Paint Bad Luck On Boats?

Sailors take green boats as bad luck very seriously. So yes, any hue of green paint on a ship is considered back juju. If you are a sailor and want to be like a real sailor, then you should probably not get your boat painted green or any shade that resembles green or mixed with green. 

If you don’t care for or believe in superstitions, go out and get your boat painted a beautiful green. Remember, green is also associated with luck and is a lovely color!

Bibliography

  1. Jill.L Morton, The Meanings of Green, https://www.colormatters.com/the-meanings-of-colors/green
  2. World Cruising Wiki, Sea Superstitions, https://www.cruiserswiki.org/wiki/Sea_Superstitions
  3. Alex Smith, 10 top Seafaring Superstitions for Sailors and Boaters, Published April 28, 2013, https://uk.boats.com/on-the-water/ten-top-seafaring-superstitions-for-sailors-and-boaters/
  4. Wikipedia, Sailors Superstitions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailors%27_superstitions
  5. Steff Bottinelli, Sailing Superstitions, 13 Things To Never Do At Sea https://www.ybw.com/features/sailing-superstitions-13-things-never-done-at-sea-43670#:~:text=From%20painting%20a%20boat%20the,ensure%20it’d %20run%20aground

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