Very Superstitious

When you're out in the open sea, your fate is out of your hands.  Reducing any chance of bad luck was so important to offer comfort to your crew and to your family waiting for you back onshore. The fishing has a huge amount of superstitions surrounding it.  Here are some of our favourites passed on to us by storyteller extraordinaire Tom Muir in Stromness, volunteer guide Jim Sutherland in Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre, and Willie Johnson on Burra Isle, Shetland (close to where this bear comes from)...

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  • If on the way to your boat, you pass a tractor with a full load of hay, you must immediately turn the vehicle you're in round in a circle before going any further.
  • Don't say the name of fish you're out to catch - it'll never happen if you do.
  • Mackerel is the devil's fish because of the high danger involved in catching it. 
  • Don't mention the minister or rats.  Think Macbeth for the fishing industry.
  • No women can be on board - though they can (and sometimes did) carry men on their back to the boat to save getting wet before an arduous voyage #justsaying
  • And don't event think about bringing a box of Swan Vesta matches on board, some skippers will give you the sack for that kind of bad luck.