Posts tagged Maritime Superstitions
There is no getting around Poseidon: 'Hell has no fury like a woman scorned'

Why are ships always female?

Old sailors used to answer this with a sexist joke: "Like a woman, a ship is unpredictable." A more likely suggestion relates to the idea of goddesses and mother figures playing a protective role in looking after a ship and crew. Linked to this is the common practice of giving ships female figureheads and names, often after deities or members of a shipowner's family. Christopher Columbus famously crossed the Atlantic in a ship called La Santa Maria, named after the Virgin Mary. 

Another theory comes from the roots of language. Many Indo-European languages have "male", "female" and sometimes "neuter" words. English instead has evolved into using neuter words such as "the". So it could be that making ships female and calling them "she" is an example of a really ancient, English-speaking practice of giving a gender to an inanimate object. It's worth noting that Lloyd's Register of Shipping now calls ships "it".

Significance of Naming a Boat

Naming a sea vessel is an important tradition before the inaugural launch of the ship. The majority of vessels are named after important female figures, either historical or personal, with the names often including important women in the captain's life. There is an extensive, precise ceremony that most captains follow to ward off any bad luck. The name is chosen, mounted or painted on the ship, and the ship then cast off on its maiden voyage following the blessing.

Yacht spotters will recognize the 130-foot Christensen Motor Yacht Sweet Escape, previously as Lady Zelda (2003-2010); and as the former Alteza, 1993-2003. (Alteza is a title of respect used when addressing a person of noble rank.) Furthermore, Sweet Escape was launched in 1993 by Christensen Shipyards, after many delays as a result of changes in company ownership and ownership of the actual hull being tied up in those issues. At one very brief time with Christensen Sweet Escape was hull #10 and sometimes even more confusing was actually hull #11!

It’s well known that renaming a boat can bring bad luck. Sailors have sworn since the dawn of time that the unluckiest ships of all are those who have defied the gods and changed their names.


The Boat Renaming Superstition, and how to get around it…

According to legend, every vessel is recorded by name in the ‘Ledger of the Deep’, and is known personally to Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea. To change the name of a vessel without consulting Poseidon is to invoke his wrath, so in order to change a boat’s name, a traditional ceremony is used to appease the gods of the seas.

The first thing that must be done when renaming a boat is to purge its old name from the Ledger of the Deep, and from Poseidon's memory. This will involve wiping out every trace of the old boat name, and reciting a short ceremony to remove the boat’s name from Poseidon’s records. Poseidon did not have the internet so this has been a challenge for Yacht Sweet Escape, to say the least, as she had 3 previous names.

You must conduct the renaming ceremony immediately after the purging ceremony. The next step in the renaming ceremony is to appease the gods of the winds. This will assure you of fair winds and smooth seas. You re-christen the boat with alcohol. First offer some to the water, some to the boat, then to everyone else to toast the new vessel.


MARCH 2019

Sailor Superstitions

Old school maritime tattoos were born out the lives and adventures of sailors; and so does the pig and rooster tattoo! According to seafaring traditions they would keep a sailor from drowning. A lucky charm of sorts.

A plausible explanation is that pigs and chickens were often carried on deck in wooden pens as they were easier to keep and a valuable source of food. In a shipwreck the pens, being of light wood, would often wash ashore. Pigs and chickens were at times the only survivors of ship wrecks, and perhaps it was the sailors who were fortunate enough to survive a shipwreck or a near drowning would get the tattoo as a symbol.


At further thought, having a pig and rooster tattoo would guarantee that a sailor eats well. There are swimming pigs through-out numerous islands and cays. The infamous Paradise Island was until recently Hog Island with an adjacent Rooster’s Cay (supposedly still owned by Eddie Murphy), and there is even an Egg Island, Eleuthera, The Bahamas.

With the history of Egg Island dating back to the first settlers to The Bahamas, the island's name supposedly comes from it formerly being home to a population of wild chickens put there by sailors who wanted a source of fresh eggs while at sea.  Now the island is home to a population of wild goats which are occasionally shot for food.  The goats have evidently eaten all the eggs, though, because the chicken population is nowhere to be found.

One variation was to have a tattoo of a pig on the left knee and a rooster (cock) on the right foot signified “Pig on the knee, safety at sea. A cock on the right, never lose a fight.”

Nature’s amusing accident…

Swimming with Pigs at Big Major Spot in the Exumas


Big Major Cay is uninhabited and the pigs are not native to the island. Some say they were left by (or escaped from) a group of sailors, who planned to come back and cook them. Or that the pigs swam over from a shipwreck nearby. Wherever they came from, there are now about 20 pigs and piglets on Pig Beach. With daily visits from Bahamians and tourists, the pigs are living the easy life on Big Major Cay. There are other islands throughout The Bahamas to see these infamous swimming pigs.

In 2014, Charles Allan Smith filmed a documentary named “When Pigs Swim”. This is arguably, what propelled the pigs into the world-wide spotlight. The rest is history as they now have been featured in Expedia commercials internationally, several documentaries and just about every traveler’s bucket list; tourist have found the pigs not only in Exuma but in Abaco, Long Island, and Eleuthera.

In October 2018, T.R. Todd with Skyhorse Publishing published Pigs of Paradise: The Story of the World-Famous Swimming Pigs.

“The Bahamas are famous for sun, sand—and swimming pigs.” —National Geographic

In the middle of paradise, with billionaires and celebrities for neighbors, is an island populated only by swimming pigs. For decades, this archipelago of 365 islands would remain largely unknown to the world. It would not be a ruthless pirate, pioneering loyalists, a notorious drug kingpin, or the infamous Fyre Festival that would unveil Exuma to the world, but rather the most unlikely of creatures. Appearing in magazines, videos, newspapers, commercials, TV shows, and countless selfies, the Swimming Pigs of Exuma, in the Bahamas, have become a bucket-list sensation and have been named one of the marvels of the universe.

But how did they reach this celebrity status? What made them so famous? And why, in February 2017, did so many of them die?

Pigs of Paradise is an unlikely story of humble beginnings and a swift rise to stardom. With interviews from historians, world-renowned ecologists, famous pig owners, and boat captains, it thoughtfully considers what this phenomenon says about not only these animals but also about us.

Yacht Sweet Escape has a variety of itineraries that will be able to visit the SWIMMING PIGS of The Bahamas, wether that be Exuma or further a field. They are a sight to behold with their mysterious swimming talents, as they enjoy the salt-life of the beautiful Bahamas.

January 2019