Bananas, a crescent shaped yellow fruit. Who would think these edible, delectable fruits could give captains such a fit aboard a vessel. Not these potassium rich, viamin enriched fruits. A fruit that has become the weekend warriors best friend to help prevent cramps and over exertion. What could be possibly wrong with such a fantastic snack?
In years past, worldwide maritime superstitions have led some to believe that the Banana at Sea is detrimental to life and property. Today, and most of the later part of the twentieth century they are just considered bad luck. This superstition is carried mostly by marlin fisherman who believe that a banana on board will jinx the vessel and anything that could go wrong will go wrong. From Boston to the south end of America, Australia westward to Kona, Hawaii, talk with any of these fisherman and you will find those bananas are not allowed in their boats.
What facts do we have to substantiate these superstitions? Back in the early 1700's when the Spanish would travel throughout the South Atlantic and Caribbean trading goods, it is believed that a good number of those boats that did not return home had bananas in their cargo. The Spaniards would sail around the Caribbean trading for whatever the Queen might want, or what might bring them a handsome price back home, with their final stop been Cuba. There they would load up with bananas heading north out of Havana, pick up the gulf stream in the Florida straits which would aid them in getting home. The boats that did not make it were supposedly carrying our little yellow friends.
Prior to making their voyages home, these galleons would meet up in Havana, after trading in Port Abello and Cartagena, and sail home in numbers for protection against the elements and pirates. On July 13 1733, Friday the 13, 21 registered ships met in Havana along with an undetermined number of other ships, and headed north to the keys. While underway they were hit hard with a hurricane. Most of the ships survived the first part of the storm but then got caught on our reefs. Although it is not known if these ships where carrying bananas, it would seem entirely possible since their last stop was in Cuba. Only one ship returned to Spain and the rest were salvaged for parts and cargo at a later date. Traces of these ships were found by Mr. Art Mc Kee and can be seen at his museum in Plantation Key. The San Pedro, a ship from this fleet is now an underwater State Park, and can be found off Indian key.
In 1715 another fleet of 12 left Havana and made their way into Gulf stream. This fleet consisted of 5 ships from South America, 5 ships from Mexico, and a Cuban and French ship. They got as far north as Vero Beach and were hit hard by a passing hurricane. These ships have been found stretching from Sebastian inlet to Fort Pierce. Again , it is a very viable superstition that many captains live by. In today's world most superstitions can be used as a form of entertainment among friends. There are those that believe in all sort of different superstitions and who is to say that they aren’t founded. I am sure that I would think twice prior to letting anyone aboard my boat with a banana ever again if I had been jinxed with a banana in the past.