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Bananas! A crescent shaped yellow fruit. Who would think these edible, delectable fruits could give Captains such a fit aboard a vessel. Not these potassium rich, vitamin enriched fruits. A fruit that has become the weekend warrior best friend to help prevent cramps and over exertion. What could possibly be wrong with such a fantastic snack?

In years past, worldwide maritime superstitions have led some to believe that the banana at sea can be detrimental to life and property. Today, and the most of the latter part of the twentieth century they are just considered bad luck. This superstition is carried on mostly by marlin fishermen who believe that a banana on board will jinx the vessel and anything that could go wrong will go wrong. From Boston to the south end of South America, Australia westward to Kona, Hawaii, talk with any of these fishermen and you will find that bananas are not allowed on their boats.

What facts do we have to substantiate these superstitions? Back in the early 1700’s, when the Spanish would travel throughout the South Atlantic and Caribbean trading goods, it is believed, that a good number of those boats that did not return home had bananas in their cargo. The Spaniards would sail around the Caribbean trading for whatever the queen might want, or what might bring them a handsome price back home, with their final stop being in Cuba. Here they would load up with bananas, head north out of Havana, pick up the Gulf stream in the Florida Straits to aid in getting home. The boats that did not make it were supposedly carrying our little yellow friends.

Bananas

Prior to making their voyage home, these galleons would meet up in Havana, after trading in Port Abello and Cartegena, and sail home in numbers for protection from the elements and pirates. On July 13, 1733, Friday the thirteenth, 21 registered ships met in Havana, along with an undetermined number of other ships, and headed north to the keys. While underway they were hit head on by a hurricane. Most of the ships survived the first part of the storm, but then got caught up in its backside and ran aground on our reefs. Although it is not known if these ships were carrying bananas, it would seem entirely possible since their last stop was in Cuba. Only one ship returned to Spain and the rest were salvaged for parts and cargo at a later date. Traces of these ships were found by Mr. Art McKee and can be seen at his museum in Plantation Key. The San Pedro, a ship from this fleet, is now an underwater state park, and can be found off Indian Key.

In 1715 another fleet of 12 left Havana and made their way into the Gulf stream. This fleet consisted of 5 ships from South America, 5 ships from Mexico, a Cuban and a French ship. They got as far north as Vero Beach and were hit hard by a passing hurricane. These ships have been found stretching from Sebastian Inlet to Fort Pierce. Again, it is not known if these ships were carrying bananas, but we would like to believe so.

Although there is no hard documented proof that the banana is bad luck, it is a very viable superstition that many Captains live by. In today’s world most superstitions can be used as a form of entertainments amongst friends. There are those that believe in all sorts of different superstitions, and who is to say they are not founded? I am sure that I would think twice prior to letting anyone aboard my boat with a banana ever again.

I would like to thank Dennis Bogey, Captain of the “Bogey,” at the Holiday Isle docks, for his contribution to this article. Also, I extend my thanks to Mr. Irving Eyster, our local keys historian, and Jim Deegan of “The Keys Trader” for their valuable input of the facts.

The Offshore fishing here in the "Sportfishing Capital of the World" has been outstanding the past couple of weeks. So, get out there and find yourself a boat. But remember, "BANANAS STAY AT HOME." This is Captain Allen King saying "
Let’s keep those lines tight, tips up and have a ball!".

Quit Wishing ...........................Go Fishing!

on board the famous sportfishing vessel

Afternoon Delight


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