No Bananas on Board

Main Piece:

The following conversation is transcribed from a conversation between me (HS) and my friend/informant (LW).

HS: You have a very particular superstition regarding bananas on your sailboat is that true?

LW: Yeah. Ever since I started sailing when I was young my instructors have told me to never bring a banana with me when I sail.

HS: And why is that?

LW: They would always say that it was bad luck. Like for instance one time I remember my mom packed a banana in my lunch as a snack at one of my regattas and I took it out to eat. My instructor, although somewhat jokingly, told me to make sure I didn’t take it on my sabot because it was bad luck. Just small situations like that.


My informant is a friend from high school. He has been sailing sabots and CFJs since his childhood and is a member of one of the local yacht clubs in his area. He sailed for both his high school and his local yacht club.


My informant’s little brother had his coach and team over for a team dinner. The team coach told me about the superstition and my informant elaborated upon it.


My immediate question to the superstition of bananas in boats was, why does this superstition exist? I found that there are a variety of proposed explanations for the superstition surround bananas. For instance, bananas give off a certain gas that causes other fruits to ripen and thus spoil faster. Perhaps these negative traits of bananas are what caused this superstition of bad luck to become commonplace amongst sailors. There are other explanations also, such as the fact that boats had to travel a lot faster in order to get their banana-filled payloads to their destinations before they spoiled, which prevented fishermen from being able to land the catches they were waiting for. I think that this superstition goes to show how reasonable grievances towards bananas that are now outdated have evolved into the superstitions that we still carry to this day.