Red sun in the morning, sailor take warning.

“You know the whole like ‘Red sun in the morning, sailor take warning.’ or some shit like that. I don’t believe that. Look at, look at the uh forecast. That’s usually the most accurate is what’s going to happen.


The informant is one of the captains of the Miss Christi, the boat that ferries people to the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina island. He came to the island a couple of years after graduating from high school in San Diego. He worked at the general store in Two Harbors, then as a housekeeper at WIES. Twelve years later he became a captain. Originally, he wanted to study marine biology, but fell in love with the island when he came there and has never looked back. He still enjoys marine studies, and he is a certified scientific scuba diver. He has loved the water his whole life, but did not start boating until he came to Catalina. An avid spear fisherman, he has a lot of contact with the other fishers on the island, and many of his friends are involved in sea life in some way.


The informant was asked if there were any common sayings of seamen that he was familiar with. He has heard this folklore from his fishermen friends and people whose family has had the ocean for their trade for generations.


Though the informant does not believe in these sayings, he still remembers them and knows many sailors who do believe in them. If the sky is red in the morning, then there is a higher chance of storms or just bad luck for sailors. this may have something to do with the sun reflecting off clouds in the east, and as storms move east to west, then there is a chance of storms passing over the ship. Red sky at night, on the contrary, is perfectly okay as that means the storm has already passed the ship.

Sailors, boaters, and fishermen are notoriously superstitious. Most groups who are the most superstitious are those who have a trade that is heavily reliant on nature. Farmers are one example, as the success of their crops relies on variability in the weather. Seamen, similarly, rely on currents, winds, and weather to take them from place to place. All it takes is one storm, and their ship could sink. Because they have so little control over their trade, they attempt to create good luck through superstitions. Things become associated with good or bad luck, and all sailors must follow these superstitions for fear that their boat will sink. Red skies in the morning represent bad luck.

With modern technology, boaters can rely on radar and weather forecasting to determine if there is dangerous weather that day. The informant is one such, who feels he does not need to look at the color of the sky in the morning to determine if he will survive the day. There are others, though, who use both. They will look at forecasts and use that for the majority of their weather knowledge. If the sky is red in the morning, however, they are much less likely to risk the ocean regardless of what the weatherman says. Science and superstition can exist in the same belief system.