Yes, you have read that title correctly. The curse of bananas. Don’t laugh. This is serious business! Well, to most boating aficionados it is serious business. You’re among friends here and you may just be learning about the banana’s disastrous effects upon the common seafarer, so I suppose you may chuckle – for now.
This banana malady has deep historical roots, as most bizarre widely held beliefs do. Some say that once upon a time, a ship carrying bananas as its cargo also carried a deadly disease that wiped out everyone on board. Another tale goes that the tropical fruit wreaked havoc by way of spiders. Boat loads of bananas from Central America were the bane of the stevedores’ existence back in the day. (Stevedores being people employed to load or unload cargo onto or from a ship.) They would unload the haul of fruit only to find themselves the victims of biting spiders. The bites issued were painful and, in some cases, fatal.
Some even postulate that the curse was set forth by those who were kidnapped from their homes and brought overseas in the name of slavery. These unfortunate folks were held captive in the deep dark holds of – you guessed it – banana boats. Sadly, not all of these abused individuals made the journey. There is a legend that these despicable actions led to a curse issued by the dying kidnap victims.
The dislike for bananas could also stem from the fact that they do not keep well on long journeys. When men were away at sea for extended periods of time, they would pack fruit in order to maintain an ideal level of vitamin intake. It was quickly discovered that bananas would blacken speedily, and as they went bad would leak gases that then promoted the advanced rotting of any other nearby produce. Thus, bananas were promptly banned from the menu.
Whatever the cause of the curse, this is a superstition that persists to this day. Many captains will not allow bananas on their vessels. Some may even go so far as to ban Banana Boat Sunscreen, beauty products containing banana (lip balms, lotions, tanning oil), and even clothing made by Banana Republic. (Not quite certain how they check for this. Perhaps they have a working knowledge of the current catalog, or they administer a stringent tag check upon boarding passengers.)
If fishermen discover that one of their sailing companions is packing a banana on their person, fights may break out. Many boaters can attest to the phenomenon of perfectly good boat motors that will stop working if there are bananas on board. Other assorted tools and gear may likewise completely fail to operate correctly. Injuries abound. Unusual phenomenon will quickly become common when yellow fruit is on board.
Happily, this bout of bad luck can be reversed. Simply cast your bananas overboard and watch as the black veil of weirdness that had descended upon you is quickly lifted! Yes, the solution is indeed that simple. Or, you can avoid the hassle altogether and leave the bananas back at the dock.
We wish you fair winds and following seas.