Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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338                  MUSIC OF THE WATERS.
dead body, it being a due debt to be interred where it lieth, and a ship cannot abide to be made a bier of.
" On certain parts of the coast in Cornwall, sailors dread walking at night near those portions of the shore where there have been many wrecks, for they firmly believe that the souls of drowned sailors haunt such localities, and further affirm that the calling of the dead has frequently been heard. Indeed at night-time, on the approach of a tempest, these callings are declared to be of common occur­rence, and many a sailor positively asserts that he has heard the voices of the dead sailors ' hailing their own names.'" *
Friday is considered by the sailors as an unlucky day to set sail upon or begin any work. One cannot wonder at the prevalence of this idea amongst them, seeing how deeply-rooted it has become amongst all classes and nations ; but we may query the wisdom of a sneeze to the left or the right side, at the moment of embarking, having any effect upon the voyage being favourable or otherwise. It is also considered very unlucky if any one accidentally numbers the sailors on board, or to ask Scotch sailors or fishermen before they start on a journey where they are bound for ! And to point with the finger to a ship when at sea is most disastrous; the whole hand should be raised up to counteract the evil consequences. It is a bad sign if a water-bucket or a mop is lost, and no one must cut his hair or nails at sea, except during a storm ; thus a calm voyage would return a crew whose fingers would be formidable weapons to encounter, and whose locks would be suggestive of Rip Van Winkle or Robinson Crusoe.
Whistling is thought very unlucky by sailors, as it is supposed to raise an unfavourable wind. This superstition is, I fancy, to be traced to the practice of whistling for • winds, common to many nations in days gone by, which used to exist, and which I have elsewhere mentioned. A whistling woman is a bete noire to Jack.
1 Extract from the Leisure Hour.

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