Wilma Lee is back at the dock in Ocracoke after nearly two months in the boat yard. Last Friday Tom Pahl, Bill Monticone, my son Emmet and I defied the time-honored sailors' superstition against beginning a voyage on Friday and made the 45-mile trip down the sound from Wanchese.
Sundae (my adoring wife) said, “What!? You're going to leave on Friday?” Well, leaving on a Friday might have been tempting fate, but waiting until Saturday would have guaranteed a miserable slog to weather in much colder temperatures and a gale on the nose. Been there. Done that. No thanks!
Years ago, a friend of mine who was a captain of large merchant vessels told me he was leaving in the morning for New York to take command of a container ship bound for Holland. Although the ship would be loaded and ready to depart at noon on Friday, they were not departing until 12:01 Saturday morning. I told him I was surprised that a large shipping company would be superstitious enough to waste time and money like that. “Oh the company's not superstitious,” he explained, “but the seamen are. If word got out that we planned to depart on a Friday, half the crew would jump ship!”
According to an old legend, the British Admiralty once became so annoyed at Jack Tar's reluctance to sail on a Friday that they set out to show how silly the superstition was. They commissioned a warship on a Friday, laid the keel on a Friday, Christened it “H.M.S. Friday” launched it on a Friday and sent it to sea on a Friday under the command of a Capt. Friday. Needless to say, she was neither seen nor heard from ever again!
Of course I don't believe all that bilge. I'm not superstitious. But before we reinstalled the mast I did place a Sacajawea dollar coin under the base of it, heads up. I couldn't believe the folks that last stepped the mast had overlooked that formality. Not superstitious mind you but hey, no point in being a damn fool about it!