Tuesday Morning Tactician – Traditions & Superstitions


According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary a tradition (noun tra·di·tion \trə-ˈdi-shən\) is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. Traditions are important for many reasons, whether they are reinforcing values, creating a forum for forming lasting memories, or providing context for pause and reflection. Traditions ensure that we don’t take our friends, family, values, faith and experiences for granted.

Sailing Traditions & Superstitions

Traditions and superstitions are very strong in many sports, and sailing is no exception. Some sailing traditions include:

  • Naming Your Boat (Tradition): Many boat owners name their boats to honor loved ones, or special moments in their lifetime.
  • Dress Up Your Boat (Tradition): Many boat owners like to dress up their boats with their signal, battle or trophy flags on their boat while docked or underway. This displays a strong sense of pride in the boat and crew.
  • Banana (Superstition): Having bananas on the boat is considered bad luck. Is there potassium in rum?
  • Whistling (Superstition): Many consider whistling on a boat to be bad luck, as it is said to be a challenge to the wind itself and could bring about unfavorable weather.
  • Cats (Superstition): Cats are considered to bring good luck to a boat and crew, as it can create a sense of security with the crew.
  • Boat Christening (Tradition & Superstition): Christening a boat by breaking a sacrificial bottle of champagne over the bow as the ship is named aloud and launched is considered good luck. Fun Fact: Ships sobered up when Prohibition went into effect in the U.S., and were launched with non-alcoholic alternatives such as water, juice, etc. It wasn’t until the passage of the the 21st Amendment that champagne came back for good.

Pour One For My Homies

According to Urban Dictionary to “pour one for my homies” is the act of pouring liquid (usually an alcoholic beverage) on the ground as a sign of reverence for friends or relatives that have passed away.

One Spaceman Spiff Race, run by the Ruhlman family, they have a tradition of cracking open a beer while on the way to the race course each day in an effort to recognize and reflect upon those friends and family that could not be in attendance. Everyone meets near the stern of the boat, opens their beer, clanks them together in a cheer of solidarity and pours a small amount into the water before taking their first drink. This has always been a tradition I’ve enjoyed in the past because, well… I like beer. But more recently, it’s given me an opportunity to think of all the people in sailing and life that have influenced me in some shape or form.

It’s amazing how a gesture so small can have a profound impact, and it’s helped ensure that I don’t take the people or experiences in my life for granted. It’s a great away to reflect on the ones who could not be there, but also recognize those who surround you. And while I’m sure many people will are missed fiercely, it gives me peace knowing they are a part of almost every day on the water and will never be forgotten.


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