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
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 1700s, 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.
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
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 todays 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 "Lets
keep those lines tight, tips up and have a ball!".
Wishing ...........................Go Fishing!
the famous sportfishing vessel
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