Friday, November 13, 2009

Sailing on Friday

Boaters are a superstitious lot.  Given that it is Friday the 13th, I thought I might research why sailing on Friday is such bad luck.

Friday was named after the Norse goddess Frigg, or Frigga. Apparently all was well until the Christians came along and claimed she was a witch. This put a curse on Fridays, which were previously thought to be lucky.

The bad luck of Friday, especially for sailors was passed down through the generations, growing in significance. 

This affected the Royal Navy in the 18th and 19th century to such an extent that they tried to remedy it.  The admirality commissioned a ship called the Friday, whose keel was layed on Friday, was launched on Friday, was commanded by a Captain Friday and started it's maiden voyage on Friday.  Apparently this ship was lost without a trace. A good story, but the ship did not exist.

In any case, the superstition lives on.

I once sailed from Hilo on a Friday.  Within four days, we had a plumbing failure and lost all of our fresh water.  The compass did not work properly.  The control line on the furling jib broke three times.  The mizzen mast wobbled about 12 degrees.  We nearly ran out of diesel. The boat was becalmed twice in the Pacific High. Lastly, the boat nearly caught fire from wires chafing at a site near the main propane lines.  Some people might call this a maintenance problem, though the boat had just sailed about 15,000 miles.  It would not have hurt to leave on Saturday.

Friday the 13th is a whole other story.

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