When we purchase Maitreya, the previous owner left a coconut in the galley. It had a note with it that said:
The nut was for good luck. If things ever got bad, we would know we had the coconut. If things got really bad, we could open it.
We still have the coconut today. We were worried we might lose it when clearing customs on the way back from Mexico, but we dodged that problem by arriving at 4 am.
Since the boat never got into serious trouble, we figure that the coconut really must work. Either that or the people we bought the boat from built a really great boat. Anyway, never thumb your nose at the gods.
Since that time, when someone we know gets a knew boat or sets out on a long trip, we try to supply them with a coconut.
I looked around the web and did not find much on this tradition. I did find a couple of interesting stories about the fruits.
JFK wrote an important message on a coconut after the sinking of the PT109 in the Salomon Islands during World War II. It said, "ELEVEN ALIVE NATIVE KNOWS POSIT AND REEFS NAURO ISLAND KENNEDY." This led to their rescue. Kennedy kept the coconut in the Oval Office after his election.
During Mardi Gras festivities, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club of New Orleans throws hand decorated coconuts to revelers. This is the most lucky and sought after souvenir. The Zulus are celebrating their hundredth anniversary this year.
If you are headed out on the ocean, don't leave home without a coconut.