Why Bananas Are Bad Luck for a Boat?

31 Oct 2023

Why Bananas Are Bad Luck for a Boat is a peculiar nautical superstition that dates back to the 1700s and continues to be practiced even today. According to urban legend, when trade ships sailing between the Caribbean and Spain began to vanish, the only thing found floating among the wreckage was the curved, yellow fruits.

However, the crew members on the ship were under the impression that the ship went down due to the bananas. As a result, many rumors spread back at the pier and around the waters.

History Of Bananas Being Bad Luck On Boats:

There is some disagreement about the notion that bananas bring unfavorable outcomes originating among mariners and fishermen. Some people believe that it dates back to the 1700s when sailors would uncover shipwrecks surrounded by bananas that were floating on the surface of the water.

Others argue that the causes may be more pragmatic, such as the attraction of vermin that would infest the ship and spread diseases.

Reasons Why Bananas May Be Bad Luck:

1. Spiders:

When early merchants began trading in bananas in the 1600s and 1700s, they confronted a spider infestation. Ships of various sizes would pull up to the pier and load boxes of bananas onto their boats, completely ignorant that these venomous spiders were hiding inside the containers, waiting for their next victim... Stephen King did not write this book, I assure you.

In all seriousness, not all spiders are banana spiders, but the vast majority of spiders are invasive, and they would stow away and end up on board the ship, occasionally laying eggs that would hatch later.

When some of the crew members were bitten and had to spend days at sea without knowledge of a remedy or, in some cases, without an experienced medical practitioner, only Buckeye Bill with a sword and a flintlock gun, the crew would perish.

The ship would arrive in port with a portion of the team dead or seriously ill, which explains why people believe bananas are unlucky.

2. Ethene Gas:

When sailors in the 1700s tried to stow hundreds of bananas in the same cargo hold as the rest of their provisions, they quickly went rotten, leading some of them to assume that bananas brought bad luck.

Sometimes, it would leave them with very little food or even none for their voyage, and occasionally, it would take longer than expected because of storms, huge waves, or getting lost. But how did this come to pass?

However, Bananas allow other fruits to ripen faster by breaking down the cell walls and converting the starches into sugars, removing natural acids. They also emit a gas known as ethene, once known as ethylene. Bananas achieve this by releasing ethene.

3. Banana Flotsams:

In addition to all that was discussed earlier, one more fact that lends credence to the notion that bananas bring ill luck is that, after certain ships sank as a result of calamities such as fires, hurricanes, uncharted reefs, sandbars, or islands, other ships would find the wreckage of these vessels by stumbling upon the debris and... yes, bananas.

In addition, bananas, contrary to the beliefs of a great many people, are capable of floating. If you don't believe it, then give it a shot for yourself. Because these ships could not send out distress signals, communicate by radio, or even use coast guards, they were likely to sink without anybody warning them of impending doom.

So they would find the wreck, and all the floating bananas would make the tale more accurate when the ship returned to the pier.

4. Historically Speaking:

It was believed that taking bananas on board a ship would be unlucky and could even result in the loss of life for the crew members because bananas were considered a symbol of rot and decomposition in certain civilizations.

5. Fire:

Since the beginning of time, seafarers have faced a significant obstacle in the form of fires on wooden ships.

The ethene gasses that help fruits and vegetables ripen more quickly can also lead to fermentation, which results in the development of alcohol, which is very flammable and can easily cause a fire to start.

Because the ship has no fire suppression systems or running water, these fires can spread swiftly throughout the boat, and the men cannot put them out.

6. Fish Repellent:

The failure of fishermen to catch fish is often attributed to their belief that bananas bring bad luck. Some fishermen believe that fish are put off by the sweet fragrance of bananas and the ethylene gas that bananas give off and that they would avoid the boat or the fishermen if the smell of bananas were present.

The aroma is vital to fish, and research suggests that they have a much more acute sense of smell than dogs do.

What Do Boaters Do When They Find Out a Banana Has Been Brought Onboard?

If a banana has been brought on board, sailors often have several different methods to ward off the bad luck associated with bananas. According to this source, a man participating in a boating charter had the logo of Banana Republic cut out of the shirt he was wearing because he was wearing it. Throwing the banana (or anything linked to bananas) overboard before the completion of the journey is another typical workaround. Some people recommend hastily consuming the fruit before you get to the port.

You don't have to worry about getting your shirt sliced if you wear one of our fishing shirts on your next fishing excursion because it doesn't feature any bananas like some other brands do.

The Positive Side of Bananas: A Source of Quick Energy on Boats

Bananas have a high nutritional profile, making them an appealing on-the-go snack for anyone looking for a quick energy boost. Bananas are sometimes referred to as nature's power bar due to this feature. Because of this quality, bananas have traditionally been carried on board many ships, as explained below.

However, bananas are an excellent source of various critical nutrients, including potassium, vitamins C and B6, and simple carbohydrates in the form of simple and easy-to-digest sugars. Potassium is a crucial vitamin for maintaining good heart and muscle function, which is especially critical for sailors due to their frequent and strenuous physical exercise.

Additionally, Vitamins B6 and C are essential for overall health since they aid in sustaining various physiological activities, such as immune response, brain function, and neurotransmitter generation.

Furthermore, when it comes to obtaining the necessary quantity of energy, simple carbohydrates such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose are the body's go-to choice.

These carbohydrates are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, providing a brief burst of energy that can be very beneficial during the physically demanding demands of sailing or fishing.

Frequently Asked Questions on Bad Luck on Boats

Q1. Why Is Bringing a Woman on a Boat Bad Luck?

Women on board were unlucky because they distracted the sailors, which enraged the water and caused disastrous conditions as a sort of retaliation. Naked ladies, on the other hand, calmed the water, which is why most figureheads were women with bare breasts. It is claimed that a woman's bare breasts may quiet a severe storm. However, this is a long-forgotten ability of female nakedness.

Q2. Why Do Suitcases Bring Bad Luck to Fishing Boats?

The roots of suitcase superstition are unknown, and misconceptions vary. Some sailors, for example, are superstitious about all luggage, while others prohibit black suitcases and backpacks. Everyone agrees, however, that a briefcase is an omen of disease or death.

Q3. Why Is Friday an Unlucky Day to Begin a Boat Journey?

There is a superstition that Friday is the worst day to start a boat journey and that no business can flourish if it begins on that day. The most common explanation for Friday aversion is the belief that Christ was crucified on a Friday. As a result, this day should be honored and respected, and anyone who attempts to do business as usual will bring bad luck.


Even if you don't believe in superstition, it's impossible not to accept the urban legend that eating bananas on a boat will bring you nothing but misfortune.

Given the number of tales and rumors that have been passed down from generation to generation, as well as the number that have been well documented in naval history, fishermen worldwide are convinced that having bananas on board a fishing boat is unlucky.

Still, they will be the first ones to blame anyone and anything else besides their knowledge of how to catch fish.

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