Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 12:01 UK

Superstitious town bans whistling

Portsoy [Pic: Undiscovered Scotland]
The festival was hit by bad weather last year

A superstitious coastal town has imposed a month-long ban on whistling in an attempt to ensure good weather for its annual boating festival.

Portsoy, in Banffshire, has revived an ancient maritime belief that whistling at sea brings ill winds.

The tongue-in-cheek ban was imposed by the organisers of the port's Scottish Traditional Boat Festival.

The event, which runs from 20 to 22 June, fell victim to poor weather last year.

Festival chairman Roger Goodyear told BBC Scotland that everyone from dog walkers to over-enthusiastic builders admiring the town's young ladies had been asked to observe the ban.

He explained: "It is an old superstition that if you whistled at sea or near the sea you were actually mocking the devil and he might retaliate by sending gale force winds.

"We thought we would take the best care we could to ensure good weather. Humming or singing are no problem at all, but no whistling.

"Last year we had a brilliant Saturday but on the Sunday we had torrential rain. I do distinctly remember hearing some whistling on the Saturday night - it may not have been Portsoy folk actually.

"We get about 20,000 people here so we are hoping we can get our visitors to behave as well."

The festival, which is entirely by volunteers drawn largely from the town's 1,800-strong population, features music, dance and food as well as boating demonstrations.

Black cat

But Mr Goodyear said that at least one music legend would definitely not be welcome on the main stage.

He said: "I have a high regard for Roger Whittaker, but unfortunately he is not invited - he is banned."

Other nautical superstitions dating back centuries include the suspicion of all things left-handed, with seafarers encouraged to lead with their right foot when stepping off their boat.

Rats leaving a ship is said to be a sign of trouble to come, but the presence of a black cat on board is a good omen for sailors.

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