JHH5II-13998I’m an electronics technician by trade and a believer in logic and scientific method. When I ran my businesses I was an analytical manager delving into the numbers as a foundation for my decisions.

And when voyaging, I’m a compulsive list keeper, boat preparer and weather analyzer. Yes, I’m the hard cold facts guy. Well…except for two things:

I know, it makes no sense. But I can’t help it. On Morgan’s Cloud no one may whistle, and we never mention that animal that bacon comes from. Still it’s not that bad really. I mean, just two superstitions. Anyone is allowed that many…right?

Of course, there was my decision of last week, which some people have misinterpreted. We were getting ready to round Cape Hatteras with a lovely forecast and a fair wind but at the last moment I postponed for 24 hours so we could enjoy the port we were in and spend more time with some friends. The fact that it was Friday the 13th had absolutely nothing to do with my delay. I’m way too logical for that.

What about you? Please leave a comment.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

15 comments… add one
  • Luís Serpa Apr 20, 2012, 3:52 pm

    Hi John,

    I totally identify with your post. At a certain point in my life I ran a charter company (well company’s a bit too big a name, I had one boat only. and ran also, I actually did everything, from wiping the office floor to skipper the boat). I’m a rational guy, as you, but for fun – I insist, for fun and to give that “nautical experience” our clients are looking for – I started “being” superstitious. No whistling, no flowers, no animal name (funny, in French the forbidden animal is the one with long ears, not the one bacon comes from), no leaving on Fridays (that was easy, charters started on Saturdays).

    Things went on happily for two years, and I was not superstitious, not at all. Until a spring I was in La Rochelle preparing the boat to the upcoming season, masted her and – horror – saw that I had forgotten to put the coin under the mast.

    My head was bursting with images of falling masts, spreaders right on one of the clients, gosh, what was I heading for. So without hesitating, without even losing time t think, I ran to the lift operator who had just put my mast on and asked him to liftit again “just for a second”.

    When he asked me why I – who had not wasted time thinking – told him the truth: “I forgot to put the coin under the mast”.

    You have to know la Rochelle (one of France busiest marinas) and have some notions on the French character t understand the miracle that followed: he came back to my boat and lift the mast again.

    I placed the coin (which I had reserved beforehand) and that day yes, I stopped once and for all “not being” superstitious. The lift operator said yes, but if he had bullets on his eyes I would not have survived.

    • John Apr 21, 2012, 5:20 pm

      Hi Luis,

      Great story, and I love the picture of “bullets on his eyes”. Mind you I have known crane operators that would have drived the mast down through the bottom of the boat, just for spite!

  • Stan Apr 20, 2012, 11:16 pm

    Hi John:
    In the late 60’s I was a deck hand on a fish boat off the coast of Vancouver Island. One of the big issues on the boat were canned things. The problem was if you opened the can upside down! You were all right if it was something like a can of beans that was used immediately but if it was something like a can of milk that would be used over a number of days the can went over the side immediately.

  • David Nutt Apr 21, 2012, 7:50 am

    I am not superstitious, I just don’t like to take chances. If I want to leave on a Friday I head out Thursday, find a nice anchorage for the night and then head out knowing I left the day before. So far, so good.

  • John Apr 21, 2012, 8:30 am

    I’m not superstitious at all but it’s only my second boat. I too am a list making, boat preparing, weather analyzer.

    I wonder if the more time you spend out there, the more superstitious you become?

    • John Apr 21, 2012, 5:21 pm

      Hi John,

      Wait until you hear Colin’s Friday 13th story, coming tomorrow, it will answer your question…in spades!

  • Sixbears Apr 21, 2012, 8:50 am

    I always say it’s bad luck to be superstitious.

  • Chris Apr 21, 2012, 9:46 am

    When people ask us where we are going we always say “toward,” never “to.” That my be superstition or indecision, but we’re not sure…

    • John Apr 21, 2012, 5:22 pm

      Hi Chris,

      We say “bound for” being old fashioned, but the spirit is the same.

  • Scott Kuhner Apr 21, 2012, 10:03 am

    I can’t believe the coincidence. Kitty and I were in Vero beach and were planning to go down to Ft Pierce to go off shore to Beaufort, NC. However, it was Friday the 13th, so we continued up inside to Cape Canaveral. It is a good hing we did; because it blew hard that and the next day and friends who had poo pooed the notion of Friday the 13th had a miserable ride. Where were you coming from when you were going to round Hatteras? We are now in Oriental, NC waiting for Sunday’s thunderstorms to pass by. After two circumnavigations, we have become wimps.

    • John Apr 21, 2012, 5:25 pm

      Hi Scott,

      Hey, I did not even need to do a circumnavigation to be a wimp, just comes naturally, I guess.

  • Westbrook Apr 21, 2012, 3:33 pm

    Is singing aboard ok?

    • John Apr 21, 2012, 5:23 pm

      Hi Westbrook,

      When Phyllis does it, yes, when I do it, no. But superstition is not the reason for that rule.

  • John Apr 22, 2012, 9:16 am

    Yikes, this post has 13 comments. Ah, that’s better.

  • Paul Mills Apr 22, 2012, 3:00 pm


    I think I am not superstitious and in fact, last week left Falmouth for Troon on Friday the 13th. Had a fantastic trip, especialy across from Lands End to Howth with a spanking force 7 on the quarter. However, on leaving Howth the engine began to loose revs and we had to sail back into the berth, with enough engine to stop us alongside. It transpired that we had dead diesel bug spores blocking the primary filter …. nothing evident in the bowl just the filter….. maybe if I had left a day later?? where did I put that lucky rabbits foot?


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