What Do Sailors Say For Good Luck?

Fair Winds and Following Seas: A Sailor’s Guide to Good Luck Wishes

Sailors have been wishing each other good luck for centuries using the phrase “fair winds and following seas”, but what does this phrase really mean?

In this article, we will explore the origins, meanings, benefits, and history of this commonly used expression in sailing circles, as well as other common expressions used to wish someone good luck on their journey at sea.

Origins of the Phrase “Fair Winds and Following Seas”

The phrase “fair winds and following seas” is believed to have originated from old British naval tradition dating back to at least the 18th century, when it was first used as a farewell blessing for those going to sea. The phrase has since become a popular way for sailors to wish each other luck on their voyage or when they part ways at port.

Meaning of “Fair Winds”

The phrase “fair winds” is used to wish a person a safe journey or good fortune while travelling by boat or ship. This could refer to favorable weather conditions such as light winds or steady breezes that help propel a vessel along its course without causing too much turbulence or difficulty steering the ship in the desired direction.

Meaning of “Following Seas”

The phrase “following seas” refers to the body of water that follows behind a boat or ship as it moves through open waters. This can be any size body of water from a large ocean swell down to small ripples created by the boat itself, but all are considered beneficial for navigation purposes and are thought to bring luck when encountered on a voyage.

Benefits of Good Luck Wishes

Good luck wishes such as “fair winds and following seas” can be beneficial for both physical and mental health while sailing at sea or even just before departing on an adventure out into open waters.

These expressions help build confidence and provide encouragement when embarking on something new, which can be especially important when facing uncertain conditions out on the open sea!

Additionally, having someone else wish you good luck can help foster positive feelings between two people, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and support when out at sea or among fellow sailors at port waiting for their next voyage.

Other Good Luck Expressions in Sailing

In addition to “fair winds and following seas” there are several other expressions commonly used by sailors wishing each other good luck before departing on a voyage:

  • “May your sails stay full” – This expression wishes someone favorable wind conditions so they have enough power behind them without having to use too much energy from internal sources such as engines or oars while navigating their vessel through open waters,
  • “May you always stay afloat” – This expression is meant as an assurance that no matter what happens during their voyage they will remain safe and not sink,
  • “May you never tire” – This expression wishes someone strength and endurance throughout their journey,
  • “May your compass never fail you” – This expression wishes someone accuracy with navigation so they can stay on course throughout their voyage,
  • “May you never run aground” – This expression wishes someone safety from hazards such as shallow waters or sandbars that could cause them difficulty if encountered during their voyage,
  • “May your journey be swift” – This expression wishes someone speediness so they can reach their destination quickly without unnecessary delays,
  • “Sail safe!” -This is another assurance that regardless of what happens during their voyage they will remain safe during it,
  • “Good luck!”- Finally, this is just a simple but sincere way to wish someone good fortune throughout their journey!

    How To Wish Someone Good Luck In Sailing

    When wishing someone good luck before they depart on a sailing adventure there are several ways it can be done: verbally, through hand gestures (such as raising one’s hand up with fingers extended in a fist), via card/letter/email/text message, etcetera- whatever works best for both parties involved! If saying goodbye face-to-face it is common courtesy to shake hands or give each other hugs while expressing your best wishes for them (such as saying “fair winds and following seas”). Additionally, if sending something electronically like an email or text message you can include these same expressions- just make sure not to forget about saying goodbye verbally if possible!

    History Of Sailing And Good Luck Customs

    Throughout history sailors have been using various expressions for wishing each other good luck before setting sail into unknown waters- some more common than others depending upon culture/region/time period etcetera! For example: early seafarers would often throw coins into the ocean prior to embarking upon their voyages as an offering made specifically for Poseidon (the god of the sea) asking him for his protection while out at sea, while later sailors began writing down poems related to sailing/sea life which were then shared amongst friends/family members who were also travelling by boat- these being known as ‘sea poems’ today!

    Cultural Significance Of Good Luck Wishes In Sailing

    Good luck wishes have long been seen as an important part of sailing life due both to superstitions surrounding water travel (e.g., throwing coins into the ocean prior mentioned previously) & simply providing comfort/encouragement between people who know how dangerous & unpredictable life at sea can truly be! Additionally, many cultures around world have customs related wishing others well before embarking upon adventures (such as saying ‘bon voyage’ before leaving shore). All these things combine together make up integral part any sailor’s life- whether they’re professional merchant mariners who make living voyaging between ports all over world or recreational boaters simply taking weekend trip close by homeport!

    Modern Uses Of Good Luck Wishes In Sailing

    In modern times most people who sail do so recreationally & usually only go out short distances close shorelines- however even these activities still require certain level preparation & knowledge about what entails being out open water safely & responsibly! As such, it is still important practice among sailors wish each other well no matter how short trips may be- whether this means shaking hands saying goodbye port giving final farewells via text message/email after already departed shoreline area! Even though hearing classic phrases like ‘fair winds following seas’ may not seem necessary anymore due advancements technology made over last few decades helping navigational aspects ships much easier handle today compared past centuries there still something special about taking few moments expressing best wishes our friends family members we’re travelling with us journey ahead us all!


    In conclusion, fair winds and following seas are two classic expressions often used by sailors when wishing one another good luck prior setting sail into unknown waters explore world’s many nautical wonders! By understanding origins & meanings behind words we use give others blessings we’re able better appreciate importance these customs our lives more overall! Whether professional commercial mariner recreational boater we all need little bit extra encouragement time time again remind ourselves why we love doing what do out open ocean no matter how far might take us end destination always worth journey itself along way there make it safer more enjoyable experience everyone involved- especially those sending off with kindest regards from shoreline far away!

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