January 2015, and once again we find ourselves making that NY resolution to do more blogging….
Well, we got an extra push this week when we were invited to write a blog post to support a campaign by Look Insurance Services from UK, which aims to unearth all the sailing superstitions out there.
Red sky at night – a sailor’s delight
You can participate in their survey here and add in your own personal superstitions.
We’re flattered to be in company with some great bloggers out there, Windtraveler and Coconuts who have also penned posts to support this campaign!
In fact, we were recently in an anchorage with Jody & Peter of Coconuts fame and Eric and Peter were both on a roll with their fishing (oh & we did have bananas onboard!)*
They dinghied over to us with some small jacks for our dogs, as their dogs don’t eat them, then later that evening Jody & I were messaging each other with the latest catch ‘my fish is bigger than yours’ repertoire.
Tarpon at Water Island
Eric caught a huge tarpon, then Peter caught a 4’+ shark!
Only a couple of nights later, in the same anchorage off Honeymoon Bay, Water Island, Eric caught a 6’+ shark (video link)!
Shark at Water island
Well, as for superstitions, we personally don’t abide by them.
We almost always have bananas onboard, we sail on a Friday if we have a weather window and in fact our last overnight passage (70 hours Carriacou to St. Thomas), which began on a Friday, was our best sail since we arrived in the Caribbean almost 3 years ago!
However on our (sailing) travels we have come across some very interesting ‘superstitions’.
Most notably, we recall the many fady in Madagascar. Fady is usually translated as ‘taboo’, but according to the Bradt guide to Madagascar ‘these are beliefs related to actions, food or days of the week, when it is ‘dangerous to….’ and these differ according to the various communities.
Sakatia – Fady island
One particular incident took place off Sakatia, a small island just to the west of the popular tourist island of Nosy Be on the north-west coast. On arrival in Nosy Be we were met by Craig, a long time Australian friend of Eric’s who had been working in Madagascar for a number of years and was married to a local lady. As such we were given a welcome insight into many of the local traditions and Craig explained to us about the fady, one of which banned dogs from Sakatia.
Chui – Fady dog!
So, when we were invited to join a yachtie party on the island a couple of weeks later, with pig roast and rum punch, we knew not to take Chui ashore (this was 2007 before Scrumpy joined us!) On the day of the party we anchored off the south coast of the island and decided to take Chui off the boat just to paddle him around in the kayaks for a bit of fun, before we went off later to the party.
We were happily kayaking around when we suddenly noticed a group of irate islanders shouting from the waters edge and shaking their fists at us!
They presumably thought we were coming ashore with the dog.
We quickly paddled Chui back to Amarula, as a group of the elders paddled out to confront us in a dug out canoe and demanded a zebu from us in compensation!
Zebu at Mitsio island
Zebu is the local cattle and costs a pretty penny! I explained in my best schoolgirl French that we had no intention of bringing our dog ashore. We knew about the fady and we were in the water not on the island. None of this mattered a jot and we debated for some time until we eventually agreed on a ‘fine’ of around $10 worth of local Ariary (currency) to satisfy them.
Moramba Bay, sacred Baobab tree
On another island in one of our favourite places, Moramba Bay, there is a huge, sacred Baobab tree under which the local Sakalava people ritually sacrifice zebu and it is fady to visit on a Thursday or walk around the tree anti-clockwise!
In certain communities it is ‘fady’ for anyone to eat pork. We wondered if this particular fady was the reason for the following incident, which took place the following year……
We were anchored in Russian Bay relaxing one afternoon, when 2 men paddled past us in a dug- out canoe. They hesitated, looked around surreptitiously and eventually decided to paddle across to us. They had a wild boar in their boat and asked if we wanted any of it, whilst constantly looking over their shoulders.
Russian Bay, Madagascar
We assumed it must be because pork is considered fady in many parts of Madagascar, but we bought some from them.
We thought our dogs would love this special treat, but when we cooked it they turned their heads away, so we wondered if there was something wrong with it, even though it was quite obvious that it had only just been slaughtered.
We later went ashore to a Braai (South African BBQ) at the home of a South African couple, who sold beer and vegetables to the few yachties who visited the bay, only to discover that we had bought one of the legs of the wild boar they had ordered!
No worries. We all had a good laugh about it and happily devoured the rest of the animal, which they had prepared for that day’s braai. I have to say it was some of the most delicious pork we have ever tasted, but strangely enough our dogs refused absolutely to eat it!
Dinner time in Russian Bay
Incidentally, Andrew and Lisa, advised us of 2 other fady local to Russian Bay, which were – no laundry on Tuesdays and no fishing on Thursdays…… We came across many more, but we’ll leave those for another day
On our travels, we consider it common courtesy to learn about and respect local cultural traditions, whether we agree with them, understand them or not. And of course, this topic always makes for great conversation when meeting new people.
So, hop on over to the survey and add your thoughts….
*Oh, and just in case the title of the blog post confused you, there is the superstition about not catching fish if you have bananas onboard and of course this old song sprung to mind….. and to further qualify our lack of belief in the banana superstition, we always had a huge bunch of bananas hanging in the cockpit at various stages of ripeness in Madagascar and it was the best fishing we’ve ever experienced anywhere!
Plenty of fish!
We have not been very active bloggers since moving across to this wordpress blog in March 2013, but if you are interested in reading about our pre-Caribbean travels you can find them here in our Captain’s Logs.