Why Are Bananas Bad Luck On A Boat?

Why are Bananas Bad Luck on a boat, is an unusual nautical superstition that began in the 1700’s that is still persistent today. When trade ships sailing from the Caribbean & Spain started to disappear, legend has it that only the curved yellow fruits would be found floating amongst the wreckages. Seafarers believed the bananas had caused the ship to sink. Which leads to many rumors back at dock and throughout the seas.

What About Fishing Boats?

Fisherman also believe Bananas are bad luck, as well as blame them for not catching fish, mechanical issues, or even bad weather.  One reason could be that Bananas are naturally sweet and sticky, and they also release ethylene gas which some believe that acts as a natural fish repellent.

Along with Bananas on board the boats being fish repellant they also have been said to cause mechanical issues on well-maintained vessels. Some have said they had the bait well quit on them and killed all their bat before they even began fishing, some have also said they arrive at the first spot, drop anchor and then the boat won’t start back up. Any of us who’ve experienced boat trouble knows the unique feeling of helplessness of drifting in the wind on a boat with a dead motor, hoping someone comes by and tows you back to the ramp.

Call it what you want, but many report going out on a gorgeous day, with no rain or storms in the forecast, only to be chased back to shore by thunderous clouds, pouring rain and worst… Lightning! If you’ve ever been in a FL storm, but when you are the tallest thing on the water and lightning starts to strike the water next to you and you are blinded by the light (no pun intended) is never a fun time.

So, we are not taking the chance with this happening to us, so We DO NOT Allow Bananas onboard ANY of our Fishing Boats/Trips

Here are a few more reasons why Bananas may be Bad Luck

#1 SPIDERS!!!!

I don’t know about you BUT Spiders are not on my most favorite bug list…

Spiders were a  problem for early Merchants trading bananas in the 1600 & 1700’s.  Ships of all sizes would pull up to the dock and load crates of bananas on board their ships, unaware that these venomous spiders lurked inside waiting for their next victim…
JK this isn’t a Stephen King book.

Seriously, not all spiders are banana spiders but most are invasive and would stow away and would end up on board the ship, sometimes even lay eggs that would later hatch… With some of the crew getting bit and spending days at sea, with no knowledge of a cure or sometimes without a experienced medical professional, just Buckeye Bill with a sword and a flintlock pistol, the crew would die and then arrive at port with part of the crew dead or extremely sick, it is easy to see why people would say bananas are bad luck.

Thankfully due to the advances in medical technology we now do have the knowledge and resources to properly identify, cure and care for spider bites.

#2 Ethene Gas

Some sailors back in the 1700’s believed the bananas were bad luck because they would store hundreds of them in the same cargo hold as the rest of their rations and they would spoil. Sometimes it would leave them with little to no food for their journey, occasionally it would take longer due to storms, huge waves, or getting lost. But how did this happen?

Bananas make other fruit ripen because they release a gas called ethene (formerly ethylene), and cause other fruits to ripen faster by breaking down the cell walls and converts the starches into sugars which removes the natural acids.

Some other fruits and vegetables also give off ethene gas includes: apples, melons, apricots, tomatoes, avocados, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, and figs.

#3 FIRES!!

As mentioned above about the Ethene Gases causing fruits and vegetables to ripen faster, which also speeds up the fermenting process… Sailors and merchants exploring new lands had no clue about about these new foods that they had never seen before. They would take hundreds of them and store them in their holds.

Unknowingly,  not only did the bananas and other fruits and vegetables would spoil and stink as they started to ferment, they would also produce an alcohol that would combust and cause devastating fires that would cause the wooden ships to be engulfed in flames. With no fire suppression systems, running water, or even the coast guard to help aid these sailors, they would ultimately be sent to Davy Jones Locker…

If they were lucky enough to escape the fire, they would find themselves in a raft, no where close to land, drifting, with no food just waiting to be found by another ship taking the same route. Hoping the weather didn’t turn for the worse.  Thus furthering the belief that bananas are bad luck on boats.

#4 Banana Flotsams

Besides all the things previously mentioned above, Another fact to strengthen the Bad Luck Banana myth, would be after these ships wrecked due to fires, storms,  uncharted reefs, sandbars or islands, other ships would discover these wreckages by the debris and… you guessed it bananas.

As many do not know, Bananas float. Try it for yourself if you don’t think its true. With no distress signals, radios, or even coast guards, these ships would wreck and had no one to tell that the ship was going down.  So they would find the wreck and all the floating bananas would only make the myth more true by the time it got back to dock.

Conclusion:

Whether or not you are superstitious, its a little hard not to believe the rumors that bananas are bad luck on board a boat.

Given the amount of stories and rumors spread and the amount that is well documented in naval history, fisher people worldwide are convinced that bananas on board the fishing boat is bad luck but they will be the first ones to blame everyone and thing else besides their knowledge on how to catch fish.

But we whatever you may call it, we do not allow bananas on board our fishing vessels here at Hubbard’s Marina.