Sailors from [[OlderThanTheyThink time immemorial]] have had their own brand of folklore. Much of it is borrowed from that of landlubbers, NorseMythology and GreekMythology, for instance, but sailors have had their own unique twists. These types of tales are what they [[OralTradition sang to each other]] during long, boring voyages. They included tales of great deeds, quirky superstitions, fantastic creatures and day-to-day life on the sea. Sailor lore also has such things as haunted islands and accursed ships. Sometimes sailor tales were sung rather than told, especially as sea chanties provided rhythm to help with their work.

There are a few fairly good compendiums of nautical folklore. One of the older ones is ''Weird Tales From Northern Seas'' by Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie. Two more modern ones include [[http://www.amazon.com/Folklore-Sea-Maritime-Horace-Beck/dp/0913372366/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284181338&sr=8-1 Folklore and the Sea]] by Horace Beck and [[http://www.amazon.com/Seafaring-Lore-Legend-Peter-Jeans/dp/0071486569/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1284181497&sr=1-1 Seafaring Lore and Legend]] by Peter Jeans. By fortunate coincidence the photo of Horace Beck looks ''exactly'' like the sort of FatherNeptune that would be [[TheStoryteller telling these stories]].
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!!Tropes from nautical folklore include:

* AbductionIsLove: A lot of mortals marry selkies and mermaids by kidnaping them and hiding the macguffin that they need(with selkies it is always the skin, with mermaids it can be something else like a comb).
* BloodMagic: In some parts of the West Indies, at least until recently, it was common to use animal blood to christen a fishing boat. Most of the Western World, however, is satisfied with Champagne.
* BornUnlucky: If the bottle fails to break during the christening of a ship.
* CatsAreMagic: Having a cat aboard was thought of as bad luck, or good luck, [[DependingOnTheWriter depending on whom you ask]]. Also, in some Caribbean myths, [[TheFairFolk mer-people]] can transform into cats.
* CrossoverCosmology: Due to sailors from all over the world mixing more with each other than with landlubbers. Two of the biggest figures are [[ClassicalMythology King Neptune]] and Davy Jones (whose origin is unclear, but seems to be something to do with {{Satan}} and/or Jonah).
* DoNotTauntCthulhu: Numerous variations. Don't set out on Friday. Don't set out on Thursday, either: That is [[NorseMythology Thor's day]] and you don't want to offend the guy in charge of storms. Do not take a murderer, a debtor or a [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking woman]] aboard. Or a banana, especially if you're going fishing: It's bad luck. Don't build a ship out of black walnut, either. No one is sure why not. Just don't. Never bring a priest is Scandinavian superstition. There are powers and deities that govern lakes and oceans, and you don't want to risk offending them by having a man of God aboard. Don't rename a ship. And never name a ship after a vessel that had bad luck which is why nobody names their ship ''Titanic''. Heck, just stay on shore.
* DueToTheDead: US Midshipmen place coins in the grave of John Paul Jones. Presumably he will reward them with a due share of [[{{Badass}} Badassery]].
* TheDrunkenSailor: Generally the cause of the folklore to start with. A {{tall tale}} of tall ships over a tall draught of rum.
* EldritchAbomination: The whole ocean, just to start with, and also home to more.
* EthnicMagician: supposedly all Finns (a word which, at the time, was used to mean what we today call Sami) are Wizards.
* {{Heaven}}: Fiddler's Green
* HeroicSacrifice / IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy : One Selkie fell in love with a fisherman and married him, and unusually for an InterspeciesRomance with fey creatures remained HappilyMarried without running off to sea. However a storm came and he almost drowned so she shapeshifted back to a seal knowing that in doing so she could never be with him again.
* {{Hubris}}:
** Do not give a merchantman a grandiose name. That is TemptingFate. Passenger liners and clipper ships were often an exception to this, having names like ''Lightning'', or even ''Sovereign of the Seas''. Though the clipper that lasted longest was just named ''Cutty Sark'', rather then something grandiose (It means "short skirt", a reference to a Scottish legend about a man who saw some witches dancing, [[MaleGaze was particularly taken with]] the [[HotWitch young pretty one]] wearing the "cutty sark", [[PervertRevengeMode and barely escaped with his life]]).
** Warship names, on the other hand, invoke this; many were (and still are) given grandiose and ferocious-sounding names like ''Victory'', ''Warrior'', or even truly [[TemptingFate fate-tempting]] ones like ''Invincible'' and ''Indefatigable''. Notably, both HMS ''Indefatigable'' and HMS ''Invincible'' were destroyed at the Battle of Jutland. Then again, ships of those names have been used in combat since without being sunk or even sustaining significant damage.
* TheFairFolk: Close cousins of the mer folk and sometimes similar in behavior.
* InterspeciesRomance : There are several stories of these between a mortal and a mermaid or selkie. They never seem to work out.
* IOweYouMyLife: According to one story a Mermaid was stranded on a beach and found by a kindly Scottish boatbuilder. She offered him a wish and his wish was that no boat he ever built would ever sink. According to the story, his descendants are still building boats and are still famed for their craftsmanship. Mer-people can be [[BlueAndOrangeMorality kinda]] [[TheFairFolk odd]]. But they can know how to pay a debt and respond when treated kindly.
* KrakenAndLeviathan: Giant sea monsters that make ships look tiny.
* FatherNeptune: Who else is fit to be TheStoryteller?
* FlyingDutchman: And several other {{Ghost Ship}}s.
* MacGuffin: Amongst seafaring cultures, it was common belief that a child born "in the caul" (that is, with the amniotic sac still attached and covering his/her head), [[BornLucky is lucky and cannot drown]]. In fact, these membranes were sometimes preserved and sold to sailors for a small fortune, because the sailors would carry them for luck and protection at sea. Now a ForgottenTrope in much of the world, as many times the amniotic sac is ruptured artificially by the doctor or midwife. It's still a popular folklore in parts of the South and among the homebirth crowd. Also has some justification in that a labor and birth with a nice squishy layer of water cushioning the contractions is usually MUCH easier than one without, especially in the case of artificially rupturing the membranes.
* MerTropes: Merfolk, the legendary half fish, half human people that live in the deep.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: An Accursed Person is a "[[Literature/TheBible Jonah]]". You don't want him aboard.
* OceanMadness: One popularly-supposed phenomenon is that sailors afflicted by "calenture" would look at the sea, imagine it to be land and jump over the side.
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: Dolphins and albatrosses are the reincarnated souls of dead sailors. [[Literature/RimeOfTheAncientMariner Do not kill either of them]].
* PirateBooty: Often with a [[BlackMagic curse]] on it, naturally enough.
* RedSkyTakeWarning: ''Red skies at night, sailor's delight. Red skies at morning, sailor take warning.''
* SeaMonster: Here there be mythical and fearsome sea-creatures. Unexplored regions are full of them.
* SelkiesAndWereseals: Selkies (also known as silkies, selchies and seal wives) are mythological creatures that can become human by taking off their seal skins, and can return to seal form by putting it back on.
* ShapeshiftingLover: Mermaids and Selkies (seal people) often do this. Be careful about this, though; they might run away. This is not least the case when they became "lovers" because a mortal stole a Selkies skin or a Mermaid's cap thus [[AbductionIsLove forcing "love"]]. One Selkie was perfectly happy in her human form, and she only turned seal again to save her fisherman-husband when he was caught in a storm. Knowing she [[IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy could never go back to him if she became a seal again]].
* TropesAtSea: More tropes associated with sea and naval life.
* TurtleIsland: Fish, whales, or turtles (mostly turtles) big enough to be mistaken for islands or even continents.
* WoodenShipsAndIronMen: The Age of Sail and its story-telling conventions has become the genre in itself, or if it's not fully a genre, it's the next closest thing.
* YouCantFightFate: If a sailor is pulled overboard by a wave, that's a sign that "the sea will have its own". In fact, learning to ''swim'' [[TooDumbToLive was considered]] TemptingFate.

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