Superstition among sailors: Never eat bananas on board


Never eat a banana on a boat!

Superstition among sailors: Never eat bananas on board-Fisherman

Bananas have a very bad reputation among water sports enthusiasts: they are said to bring bad luck

Source: Getty Images / Image Source

They avoid one color, a certain animal is not allowed on board under any circumstances, but another should bring luck: sailors are very superstitious. And laypeople can make a lot of faux pas. was three years ago that Liz Wardley last touched a banana. Never again since then. Let alone eaten one. "The smell alone drives me crazy," says the Australian professional sailor. As a security guard, she is currently chasing around the world with Dee Caffari’s mixed team on the “Turn the Tide on Plastic” in the Volvo Ocean Race. As the daughter of a fisherman, Wardley was confronted with this form of superstition as a toddler in Papua New Guinea.

The 37-year-old is convinced: “Bananas bring bad luck! ”She learned that from her father. “Like most of his guild, he was utterly fanatical about this. This went so far that the fishermen were pelted with bananas by the spectators during races. This is how the best should be prevented from winning. "

Like most seafaring customs, the banana antipathy has historical roots. At the height of sea trade between the Caribbean and Spain in the 18th century, it was mainly banana freighters that sank or disappeared without a trace. Just a coincidence? There is no scientific evidence that bananas bring bad luck, of course, but there is a whole host of interesting theories.

Superstition among sailors: Never eat bananas on board-water sports

Should you really get on this boat? After all, it’s green. Real sailors or water sports enthusiasts avoid anything green

Source: picture alliance

For example, that the banana freighters wanted to reach their destination ports as quickly as possible because the yellow fruit rotted faster than other goods and were therefore navigated too risky. Or the fact that the bananas rot in the humid and hot holds and toxic gases developed in the process. According to another theory, poisonous spiders were hiding in the banana trees, which in turn are believed to have led to mysterious deaths on board.

Not only do seafarers avoid bananas, they also try to avoid the color green. Skipper Dee Caffari would never use green tape for repairs. Your compatriot Nick Dempsey, who won the silver medal in windsurfing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, has a similar view: "Never go green in competitions!"

The Italian sailing professional and America’s Cup-Helmsman Paolo Cian confirms: “Green is not good for sailors. If you wear green underwear on important regatta days, you’re begging for trouble. ”This may mean that green stands for land and therefore signals the dangers of running aground.

"Pssst! You can’t say that! "

Also at the top of the superstition fear list of seafarers is a small fur animal: the rabbit. The long-ears are so feared by sailors in France, England or Italy that the word rabbit is not even allowed to be pronounced.

The British Ellen MacArthur, once the record holder for the fastest one-handed circumnavigation of the world, reacted in an interview with cheerful horror when asked whether she had a cuddly toy, for example a rabbit, on board during her trip: “Pssst! You can’t say that! The animal you just mentioned brings very, very much misfortune! "

The background to this superstition: In the past, ship crews often had live hares or rabbits on board to eat. However, the animals escaped regularly and nibbled on equipment, cordage and rigging. Often with fatal consequences for the crew. Heavy cargo slipped due to ropes bitten through. Entire ships are said to have sunk as a result.

Superstition among sailors: Never eat bananas on board-Banana

We did not find a photo of a rabbit on board a ship. Seafarers don’t even pronounce the word rabbit

Source: Getty Images

The two-time circumnavigator and America’s Cup participant Tim Kroger also knows the fear of rabbits on board. In 2001 when he took part in the circumnavigation of the world with an international crew under the command of the late US adventurer Steve Fossett on his Maxi-Catamaran "Playstation", Kroger discovered kitchen paper with printed green rabbits. His French crew comrades in particular were appalled. A few hours later the sword of the "Playstation" broke.

For centuries, superstitious seafarers have had a number of unwritten laws: Whistling on board is frowned upon because it conjures up storms. Cutting hair and nails or stirring tea and coffee with a knife or fork are said to bring bad luck as well as renaming boats.

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Superstition among sailors: Never eat bananas on board-Liz Wardley

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The latter can be avoided, however, say some superstitious people, if you write the first name of the boat on a piece of paper, put it in a wooden box and burn the whole thing. Alternative suggestions are circulating on British sailing blogs: You have to burn the old mast for new happiness. And you have to scrape off the old name in any case. Simply painting over is not enough. And very important: once renamed, the former name of the boat, you guessed it, must never be mentioned again.

But there are also rituals that sailors use to conjure up their happiness. Usually everything started with a big win. And since it worked so well once, you try to repeat everything afterwards. Just like the red socks in Peter Blake’s Team New Zealand.

The leading figure in New Zealand’s first America’s Cup triumph in 1995 had received a pair of lucky red socks from his wife Pippa for the cup hunt. Because they were so efficient, they became the team’s main talisman and became the national symbol of Kiwi success on the water. Many New Zealand sailors therefore always wear red socks during regattas.

Gentle the gods before the start

As a good omen, ocean-going yachtsmen see albatrosses. The majestic albatrosses are considered sacred birds. The souls of deceased seafarers are supposed to live on in them. This is one of the reasons why the British author Jonathan Eyers called his 2011 book on maritime myths, superstitions and rites "Don’t Shoot the Albatross". It is said to bring good luck when albatrosses fly over a boat.

On the other hand, starting a sea voyage on a Friday is considered a bad omen. This superstition is associated with the crucifixion of Jesus on a Friday. Even today, offerings are made to the gods before a trip or a regatta to placate them.

Superstition among sailors: Never eat bananas on board-Banana

An albatross circling over a boat is interpreted as a good luck charm by sailors and water sports enthusiasts

Source: Getty Images

The Hamburg businessman Hans-Otto Schumann cultivated this custom as the owner and skipper of his successful regatta yachts. "Rasmus, old turnip pig, let’s be first again today," he used to say to the Nordic weather god before the start of the regatta and poured a shot of sherry into the sea.

Dee Caffari toasted Neptune during her circumnavigation in 2008 when she crossed the equator with “Aviva”: “I did that with a small bottle of champagne. I also sacrificed my daily ration of Haribo to him. ”Six months later, Caffari successfully finished the Vendee Globe in sixth place after 99 days at sea.

Offerings are an ancient custom at sea. From Homer’s lore it is known that the Achaeans got stuck with their fleet on the Troy course in a persistent slack off the coast of Aulis. The prophet Kalchas is said to have predicted that it would remain so if King Agamemnon did not sacrifice his most beautiful daughter Iphigenia to the hunting goddess Artemis. Which he did then. The fleet was able to sail on.

Woe if the ship’s christening goes wrong

The Vikings, too, kept the gods balanced on their sea voyages with offerings: They smeared the decks with the blood of prisoners.

Boat baptisms are no longer bloody. But they shouldn’t go wrong. The most successful Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie believes that a failed ceremony will bring bad luck. Its America’s Cup premiere under the British flag simply had to fail, because when his team wanted to christen the high-tech catamaran "Rita" for the battle of Bermuda, the specially developed bracket failed.

Ainslie’s wife Georgina made two unsuccessful attempts to christen the catamaran with the complicated custom-made product before a teammate bravely smashed the champagne bottle with a hammer. Ainslie failed in the semi-finals of the challenger round.

The “Titanic“Incidentally, was never baptized.

Superstition among sailors: Never eat bananas on board-Liz Wardley

You will never meet New Zealand skipper Peter Blake without red socks – after all, they bring good luck, at least for him

Source: picture-alliance / dpa

1 thought on “Superstition among sailors: Never eat bananas on board”

  1. But how do Caffari and MacArthur cope with the fact that a woman on board also brings bad luck? Wherever they are, there is a woman on board —
    to despair!


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