Bananas on a Boat: Are They Really Bad Luck

Are bananas on a boat really bad luck? Some fishermen believe you need to be lucky to be in the right place at the right time to catch your limit. Others would argue that it's not luck at all but an angler's skill in reading the water, finding fish and choosing the right lure and presentation that's needed to be successful.

When it comes to luck and fishing, nearly all fishermen agree that bananas are bad luck. 

To the non-angler, this may seem silly. Bananas? Really? You didn't catch any fish because someone brought bananas on your boat? But the rule of "no bananas on the boat" is strictly enforced, especially by guides and commercial fisherman that must catch fish to earn their living.

However, there are plenty of fishermen who completely ignore this superstition. In fact the guys in this video are actually using bananas as bait for catching some pretty big snapper.

The Trials of Boats and Bananas

But why bananas? Why not apples? Or strawberries? While the belief that bananas on a boat are bad luck may seem sort of random, the myth does have historical roots that can back up the claim. There are many versions of the story, but the most common goes like this...

Back in the early days of trade in the Caribbean, boats carrying full loads of bananas would speed from their port of origin to their destination as fast as possible. Bananas spoil quickly and need to be shipped without delay.

The crew aboard these banana boats would try to troll for fish, but the speed of the boat was too rapid to troll effectively resulting in no fish caught. Banana boats were bad for fishing, but there's more to the story...

These same banana boats were often crafted very poorly and cheaply. They were top heavy and usually overpowered in order to ship the bananas speedily. Due to the poor construction of these vessels, banana boats would often wreck and sink, leaving thousands of bananas floating on the surface.

The bananas would then wash ashore, and the sight of bananas floating in the sea became a sign of a sunken ship. But that's not all...

The Dangers of Bananas on a Boat

The tropical regions where bananas grow in South and Central America are home to many species of poisonous snakes and spiders.

If a sailor brought a case of bananas on board, there was always the risk that snakes and spiders would be brought along for the ride. Bananas became associated with unwanted, unsavory, and potentially dangerous pests...

Then there are the physical properties of bananas, more specifically their peels. The effect of stepping on a banana peel is perhaps highly exaggerated in Saturday morning cartoons, but they are in fact, quite slippery.

The decks of boats are slippery enough, especially when soaked with water and fish guts, so any extra slipping hazards are simply not needed. But there are other faults fisherman find with banana peels...

Science or Superstition?

Some think that the oil from a banana's peel is a deterrent to fish. There could be something to this, but further scientific research and testing should be conducted to prove that this isn't just fisherman superstition.

However, it is known that bananas do cause other fruits near them to ripen quicker and spoil sooner, leading to another case against bananas on a boat... bananas spoil food.

These days, while most fisherman cast from skiffs, bass boats or kayaks, and not 18th-century wooden banana boats, the "no bananas on the boat" rule is carefully minded. Some captains take it as far as prohibiting any foods that have anything to do with bananas on their boats, including banana muffins, banana bread, even "banana boat" brand sunscreen.

Final Thoughts

Has the superstition been taken too far? Maybe. But we go fishing to catch fish, don't we? We need all the help we can get, and we need luck to be on our side. You'll have to decide for yourself whether bananas on a boat are bad luck or not, but if you want to stay on the captain's good side and not get thrown overboard... best to leave your bananas at home.

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