Life-and-death situations always give rise to superstitions, so early sailors took no chances and followed many good-luck rituals beyond prayer.
One such ritual was to raise or “step” the main mast on a silver coin from the year a ship was built to keep the wind “happy.”
As a backup, horseshoes were nailed to the mast to keep storms at bay.
Sighting a dolphin brought good luck, but killing them could be disastrous.
Killing a gull was unforgivable, since it was believed that these birds carried the souls of sailors lost at sea.