To believe or not to believe, that is the question. The subject of bananas on a boat being bad luck is an oft debated subject on the docks of the Florida Keys. Luck being what it is, there will never be a way to prove or disprove the subject. Several times over the years I have seen evidence suggesting that there is something to the superstition.
I have always been one to believe that if there is not scientific evidence to prove any given topic that it must be filed under silly superstition. I do have one exception to that belief. I will never knowingly allow a banana onto my boat ever again. In the past I have had days that things were not really going my way and after discovering the presence of the offending fruit and disposing of said offender the fishing immediately improved. One particularly slow day I quizzed the crew about the possibility of bananas on board. No one came forward, but soon after a bag of dried plantain chips came out to be passed around.. Aha bananas!
When presented with the opposite argument that “We had bananas on the boat and we had a wonderful day”, I can simply wonder what world record or banner day would have ensued if the fruit was not along for the ride. As I would later learn, not all banana effects are immediate either.
A fellow captain often recollects a day from his early days fishing in the tuna fishery off of Maryland, The boat was a 1.5 million dollar battle wagon and the captain, the top skipper in the fleet. He did not work that day and the usual banana inspection chore fell to a fill in mate. The captain had a strict no bananas policy and a fill in mate that day neglected to inspect the coolers. The bite was hot for the entire fleet with the exception of them. Of course around lunch time the angler brought out the offending fruit and was immediately instructed to jettison it overboard. The client refused, stating that they did not believe in such things and their bananas would remain on board. After refusing the direct order from the captain, he turned the boat around and headed to the dock. Before they had gone far the boat picked up a floating trap line and the twin screws wrapped together in a tangle of line and the struts were immediately torn out of the bottom of the boat. It quickly went to the bottom. This friend, here in the Keys, and now a top flats skipper in his own right, is a staunch believer. Once he was fishing a prestigious permit tournament and his angler reveled that he had not brought a banana on board but had consumed one for breakfast. The angler was instructed to vomit up the banana or they would not proceed that day. By the way, a sure fire way to remove something from your stomach is to drink salt water until you puke. Besides the obvious detriments to health, they did go on to do quite well in the tournament.
Since the hurricane that did so much damage to the Keys I have had a series of events that have cemented my resolve that bananas, are for me anyway, a certain kiss of death.
EVENT 1. My beloved FUNYET was destroyed by Irma. Bad enough you say, but what does that have to do with bananas? When the boat was raised and dry docked on the salvage lot I was given the opportunity to inspect it and to salvage any personal property left on board, and decide if I wished to salvage or abandon the vessel. On the deck, on top of the tangled mess of cast nets, anchor line and seaweed; lay a black, over ripe Chiquita banana. That a banana was deposited into the boat by the storm is a bizarre and unlikely coincidence. While the presence of the banana was by no means the only factor in deciding not to attempt repairs on the FUNYET, I can tell you that it did weigh in strongly.
EVENT 2. My girlfriend had a 21 foot center console that was also destroyed by the storm. It too was recovered, salvaged and brought to the state run salvage lot. She too was given the opportunity to inspect and recover any personal property. As we walked to the boat, the first thing that we saw was a banana peel lying on the bow. While this was obviously not deposited by the storm, but more likely by a salvage worker disposing of his waste from lunch, it still was two boats destroyed and two bananas involved.
EVENT 3. While not directly storm related there was a residual effect. A below the water line through hull fitting on my flats boat the KNOTYET was cracked in the storm by another boat banging into it. The leak was little more than a drip and the automatic bilge pump kept the bilge dry with little effort.
Every year, I donate a trip to the IGFA for their annual fund raising auction. The winner of the trip and his wife went out for a great day of trout fishing where everyone got a limit of really nice fish. Only on returning to the dock did I find that there was a banana on board. I let them know about the banana and luck issue for future excursions. Of course they stated how could bananas possibly be bad luck if they have had such a wonderful day. Even I was doubting the possibility of negative effects by banana contamination as all had gone so well with the trip. Of course when boat number three sunk to the water line that evening due to a small piece of zip tie finding its way into the impeller of the bilge pump did I realize my mistake of even doubting the days negative effects of allowing a banana to sneak past my watchful eye.
Therefore and in conclusion, three boats sunk and three bananas later, there will be a much more militant lookout for interloping bananas. True Story!
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