My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
How superstitious are you? Sailors have a reputation for being superstitious – believing everything from not whistling on a boat (it brings up the wind) to not changing the name of a boat (said to bring bad luck). The most common superstition is undoubtably – never set sail on a Friday. In Labrador and Newfoundland, many fishermen agreed with me that it was bad luck to launch a boat or to set sail on a Friday and told me about neighbours who’d had troubles at sea and who , of course, had set sail on the forbidden day.
Full disclosure here – I personally have never launched and would never launch or set sail on a Friday. No, I don’t admit to being superstitious but I wouldn’t.
What about one of the greatest sailors and navigators of all time – Captain James Cook? In his early days on coal-carrying ships, operating out of Whitby, he no doubt heard many sailors repeating this warning, though it’s hard to believe shipowners would have allowed any avoidable losses of revenue. In the Royal Navy, Cook was under orders and sailed when he was told to. Unfortunately we have no record of Cook’s view on this matter – though he was a hard-headed and pragmatic Yorkshireman, so I doubt he’d have had much patience with anyone who suggested avoiding launching or setting sail on a Friday.
However, maybe he should have paid more heed to this ancient caution:
First Voyage, Cook departed Plymouth on August 25th, 1768 – a Thursday
Second Voyage – Cook departed Plymouth on July 13th, 1772 – a Monday
Third Voyage (on which he was killed) – Cook departed Plymouth on July 12th, 1776 – a Friday.
As a little fun, please answer the poll: Would you set sail on a FRiday?
So My thanks to Cliff Thornton who’s article in the latest Cook’s Log for this curious factoid.