Who knew bananas could be so bad when they taste so good?
The first time I found out that I should never, under any circumstances, bring bananas on a boat was during the 2017 Seattle Boat Show. I saw someone wearing a shirt that said, “No bananas on board” alongside a picture of a banana with a big red X over it. The wearer saw me staring at the shirt with my head cocked and my brow furrowed. “It’s a real thing,” they said. “Bananas are bad luck on boats.” And that was that. I laughed, shrugged my shoulders, and walked back to my little corner. I didn’t think about it again until the idea for this blog came up.
Being that St. Paddy’s day is right around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at some of the more common boating superstitions that bring bad luck and how/why they came about.
1. Bananas. Why are bananas such bad luck on boats—so bad that some people refuse to wear clothing with Banana in the brand name or logo and refuse to use products with banana in the name or logo (Banana Boat sunscreen is the one that comes to mind)? This bad luck charm started in the 1700s when trade between Spain and the Caribbean was at its peak. Many of the ships that disappeared were carrying a cargo of bananas. Freaky! There are a few more ideas about why bananas are bad luck: they carry a deadly species of spider that can kill the crew; they spoil so quickly that the trip would have to be made at super speed, causing the fisherman to not catch any fish; and the rotten bananas give off deadly fumes. No one wants any of that on their boat, so let’s just keep the bananas on land.
2. Women on board are bad luck…unless they are au naturel. Having a woman on board was believed to cause a distraction to the crew. However, if the woman was in the buff, she would cause the seas to calm, therefore being deemed good luck. I think this superstition has gone the way of the Dodo, because I’m a fully-clothed woman who has been on a boat with no adversity. Let women boat!
3. Do not sail on Thursdays, Fridays, the first Monday in April, or the second Monday in August. Thursday = Thor’s Day. Thor = The god of thunder and storms. Don’t mess with Thor. You can’t sail on Fridays because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. The first Monday in April was the day Cain slew Abel, so that day is out of the question. And the second Monday in August is unthinkable for boating because that’s the day the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Always set sail on a Sunday if you want to have a safe trip. But I thought Sundays were for rest…
4. Redheads. Don’t let redheads on your boat. I don’t know why, but apparently they are unlucky. (No offense to all of our red-haired friends. We love you!)
5. Naming your boat is no small feat. There are rules, people! Don’t name your boat after the sea or storms because doing so will cause the sea to test you. The sea will send its worst after you, daring you to compete with its forces. You also never want to change the name of your boat (which is why it’s a good idea not to name it after someone who might not be in your life forever). If you absolutely must change the name of your boat, there is a process you should follow to avoid bad luck for the rest of your boating life.
– Each and every boat name ever created is in the Ledger of the Deep, which is a record kept by Neptune (The God of the Sea). The first step is removing your boat’s name from this ledger. You can find out how here.
– After the name is erased, scraped off the boat, whited out of all documents, and gone from the face of the Earth, drink! Celebrate with wine and/or champagne to appease the gods (they like you when you’re drunk). While drinking, there are very specific words you need to recite. They can be found here.
– Once you have made the gods happy, you can safely rename your boat and set sail without worry of bad luck following you. Unless you have a redhead on board. Then forget about it.
This list could be much longer, but there is only so much bad luck I can research. It’s probably bad luck to research bad luck, so I had to stop before mirrors started breaking and ladders forced me to walk underneath them.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Drink some green drinks, eat some green food, and may you never have bad luck while boating!