Why Can’t You Have A Banana On A Boat?

Sailors' superstitions

Are you curious where the banana’s superstitions came from? Banana ban behind the superstition. You can enjoy the science behind this theory in action. Before discovering the real truth, you have to believe in science.

If you are a fantasy believer person, then you will feel confused. People believed bananas were bad luck or sea monsters for about a hundred years. After the investigation, we found the reality behind it. So let’s learn the science of bananas and boaters.

Why can’t you have a banana on a boat?

If you are a boater, there is a good chance you’ve never been told to bring any bananas on board. The banana drinks may be the world’s best-known boating superstition. I have never mentioned the banana taboo in any fishing literature published before 1952. Here are 3 facts behind the story of the banana and boat.

Jinx superstitions

Let’s explore the most popular theories behind this banana jinx superstition. A Delaware writer said that the superstition came from the turn of the century ships sailing from South America loaded with bananas.

Boats would often be overloaded, and the shifting cargo would sometimes sink the ship. Spiders, snakes, and other poisonous vermin living among bananas carried in the hold would infest other parts of the boat.

The deadly snake Taipan also likes to inhabit banana trees in far north Queensland, where one of the best bananas are grown. Also, banana bunches host those ugly furry critters known as banana spiders. They look like tarantulas and would scare anyone away from bananas, regardless of what effect they might have on fishing.

  • Those who had heard tales of boaters being bitten by these evil creatures would naturally be hesitant to bring a bunch of bananas on board, even if the incidents were not widespread.

Fishing problems

Another big theory is that bananas led to a lack of catches for fishers on boats hauling bananas. The speediest sailing ships were used to get bananas to their destinations before they could spoil those attempting to fish from them and never caught anything while trawling.

These boats moved rapidly and didn’t offer fishers enough time to learn the catch. Fishers became ill after eating the fruit in 2001. So they believe bananas are bad luck.

Health issue

Something about a shipload of bananas that carried some weird bacteria which killed everyone on board may be fictitious. But some people take the banana thing very seriously. Other fruits would spoil more quickly when bananas were being shipped along, causing people to deem bananas bad luck.

  • Bananas give off ethylene gas, which can cause other fruits to ripen and spoil faster than they would otherwise.

When seafarers went on long voyages and had to carry enough supplies to last the whole trip, they were careful not to put the aromatic yellow fruit in their stores.

  • Crew member injured by slipping on discharge banana peels.
  • Boaters might have feared potential accidents when their crew slips on old banana peels left on board.
  • Banana oil rubs off into the hands of fishermen, spooking the fish due to the sweet sand and stickiness they would leave on one’s hands.

Bananas may have been blacklisted from boats by fishers who were scared that this trade would scare off fish from being caught.

The story behind Bananas and Boats (Sailors’ Superstitions)

When the discoverers would return in the day, the sailors would go from Europe to Hawaii or to the tropical areas where bananas were grown. They would find ships adrift at sea with the whole crew dead. That was when the ships left Hawaii or these ports where bananas were grown. They would load them up in the bottom with all the different fruits.

But what they didn’t know was in the jungles and the tropics. There would be poisonous spiders. Those spiders had laid eggs on the ends of the bananas. During that voyage, the spiders would hatch from the ends of the bananas. As the crew slept at night, the spiders would crawl through the boat and bite the crew members, and they died.

So that’s the myth about bananas. We always blame it on the person that brought a banana. Don’t have a banana when you go out of Southern California or Hawaii on a local trip. Eat it before you get on the boat.

Learn more: Why Don’t Boats Have Headlights?


Johnson, David. “The Most Dangerous Jobs in America.” Time.
Bassett, Fletcher, Legends, and Superstitions of the Sea and Sailors in All Lands and at All Times.

Julia Rose

My name is Julia Rose. I'm a registered clinical therapist, researcher, and coach. I'm the author of this blog. There are also two authors: Dr. Monica Ciagne, a registered psychologist and motivational coach, and Douglas Jones, a university lecturer & science researcher.I would love to hear your opinion, question, suggestions, please let me know. We will try to help you.

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