Fisherman, Tony East, talks about fishing superstitions. He worked on trawlers from Scarborough and Hull
The following text is a transcript of this video
Thinking back to me mother, she'd looked after me father, and when I came along, it was destiny to be a fisherman. And it wasn't until I was into my teens and at school that father said he didn't want me to be a fisherman. It wasn't the thing. He'd been through the war, he'd been fishing in the artic. He'd seen quite a lot of unsettling things. And that was possibly his way. But I was adamant that I went to sea. So instead of being a fisherman he sent me off into the merchant navy.
And that was when I realised what my mother used to do for him and the funny little things that I had never really noticed because it was part of natural life: She never washed on the day he went away; She never went to the front door to see him off, that would be done somewhere in the house, but certainly not at any door.
And of course we had me mother living with us who was very very superstitious. But she never spoke about these things. And it wasn't until much much later when I was at sea myself that I realised how many seamen were superstitious. The master on this cargo ship I was on, he didn't like green, he didn't like sailing on Fridays, some of that comes in with religion. Good Friday was a nominal day in most religious peoples minds and that was maybe the thing.
The colour of green, I don't know why, it never came out till much much later in my life. We had green undercoat for some of the steel work and it was immediately dispatched ashore. This stuff came back which was labelled silver cromate.
Another quite unusual thing. The more he came out with things I did regard him as highly superstitious.
You could sing all you wanted but anyone that whistled was frowned on. And in fact I was in one ship. I was on watch, I was third hand, one of the deckies had come up with mugs of tea in hand, whistling through his teeth, not loudly, and the skipper literally leapt on him. And he was told there and then that when we got back into Hull, he could pack his gear and go ashore.
And it was another thing that came up that once a fisherman's bag was packed nothing was taken out till he got to sea. And of course the children in the family knew this and some of the most wonderful little things and drawings and pictures and bits of what we couldn't make sense of but he could, came out of the bag.
Mark Vesey: To ensure a good catch did they make offerings like throwing whisky in the sea, put a coin on the nets?
Tony Easton: When we were along the whaleback, it was prominent, they were still in their suits they hadn't got changed, they'd rake in and there'd be a handful of change, and throw it just as they came out of the log pit in St Andrews Dock. That was quite common. They were buying next trips good luck.
Then of course there was always the sceptic, saying that would never work with me.
We still got the news, sparks would come down with a bit of news sheet,we got the horses for the gamblers, we played dominoes, yet we sailed in one ship and they said you couldn't have any of them, them's the devils instruments. The religious side comes in quite a lot on a lot of superstitions.
I've got my gold cross, I lost it that many times I had it tattooed on me chest. It didn't do quite all I expected but then again I am here. I've sailed a few million miles I would imagine. I haven't had any really hairy escapes, one of two little. Somebody said to me - aren't you ever frightened going to sea and I said I wouldn't go if I was frightened.
It was surprising how atheists I met, who when the weather was bad they were the first on their knees.
One time my father went off to be a fishing master on a dutch trawler and he said that broke me heart. There he was on good fishing on Saturday midnight we'd haul the net and we couldn't shoot it until Sunday midnight,. He said that was hard luck. But again that was the religious side. People will say I believe that bit... and that bits superstition. Because they are tied together.
And I have always been one when it come to charities and things like that. Giving gifts and giving the other. That fishermen are the most abundant people, And that's one thing that makes me proud to be a fisherman.
I do think that some of the superstitions come from...well we had good trip that trip.. and well Hull City won so the next time they win we will have another good trip. It comes in from someones very quick mind what happened on that trip .. we did so and so... or so and so had a green jumper on... or yellow jumper. Silly little things and they grow Its one of them things
I have all my fathers log books, he's died recently, and I read through them and I see some of the superstitions. ..oh we caught so and so this time two years ago... and we saw so and so. There was an iceberg there and we toed round it, and we got a bag of fish and to some people the iceberg will then become a good luck thing and it possibly had nothing to do with it. But then again its a well proven fact that fish do go under the ice.