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October 15, 2003 - Scarborough, Australia.......
The sailing vessel Shear Madness returned to Australia today after a successfully completing a five month scientific expedition to determine whether there is scientific evidence to confirm the longstanding superstition that bananas on board a boat are bad luck. Captain Bradley Rosenberg, scheduled to hold a press conference this afternoon, says "My crew and I are very pleased with the results of our expedition which we believe have conclusively proved that bananas do indeed bring bad luck".
According to Rosenberg, the expedition began clandestinely with two members of the original crew not being told the true purpose of the voyage until they were well offshore. "I was afraid nobody would agree to join us if they knew the true mission", Rosenberg said. Indeed, that first passage in which bananas were on board, ended in near mutiny with the crew ultimately licking all the Captain's special biscuits. "Everyone's nerves were a bit frayed by then", says Rosenberg, adding "I was mad at the time, but I have now forgiven them".
In elaborating on the scientific evidence gathered during the expedition, Rosenberg described the voyage as follows.
We planned to sail from Australia to New Caledonia with bananas on board. We recruited two unsuspecting crew members, Mr. Dave McCormack and Mr. Chip Raymond, who believed they were in for a peaceful sail. We planned to leave Australia well after cyclone season was over, in early June. However, as soon as the first banana was brought on board, a late season cyclone developed off the coast of New Caledonia, delaying our voyage. Nevertheless, I was excited to have this first piece of evidence".
Rosenberg then went on to describe other events that occurred during that 800 mile trip. The vessel, Shear Madness, faced strong winds on the nose the entire journey. Seas were not dangerous, but very choppy and uncomfortable with three of five crew members becoming seasick. Forward cabins were downright dangerous, described by the crew as "trampoline cabins" because of the constant bouncing they encountered, often being flung against the ceiling while sleeping. An almost immediate problem occurred with the staysail halyard which was corrected by fast action by the crew. Matters continued to worsen, as the toilet seat in the crew's head soon broke. The crew had been ordered to sit down while using the head and for days had to do this with no toilet seat. Bilge pumps quit working, the vessel was deluged by constant water over the bow, the sun never shone, and fishing was virtually impossible. Even at the end of the voyage when the seas diminshed and fishing was tried, there was not even the hint of a strike. In addition, several bowls which had survived on the boat for years, were smashed during a violent wind shift, Cold, wet watches required the crew to be dressed in foul weather gear for the entire trip.
About midway through the passage, the two unsuspecting crew members learned that bananas were on board and when their request to throw them overboard was denied, they were let in on the real reason for the trip. This provoked outrage and the crew turned against Captain Rosenberg, at least temporarily. The crew went so far as to appropriate the special Captain's Cookies and lick them thoroughly before returning them to the Captain. After this, tempers eased and the crew enjoyed a few days of peaceful cruising in New Caledonia before departing for home.
Captain Rosenberg, along with yachtmaster Ron Carlson and crew Kathy Clark, continued on the next phase of their research, to determine the effect of bananas on fishing. They proceeded to Vanuatu, a country where bananas outnumber all other living things. Bananas were carried on board at all times while the crew tried in vain to catch fish. They tried spearfishing and line fishing on numerous occasions, with one small coral cod the only result. Captain Rosenberg made the following observation: "Based on our evidence, we believe that the number of fish in a country is inversely proportional to the number of bananas. Vanuatu has tons and tons of bananas, and consequently no fish".
In early October, the small remaining crew began preparations for the 1000 mile journey back to Australia. No bananas were on board. As expected, all went smoothly. Winds were 10-20 knots for most of the journey. Seas were measured in centimeters rather than meters. The crew was able to take daily showers on the back of the boat. Hours of continuous, restful sleep was had by all. Many great books were read. Everyone had a hearty appetite and ate well. Most importantly, the largest fish ever caught on this vessel was landed on the second day - an 80-pound yellowfin tuna. It took Captain Rosenberg almost an hour to land it and Mr. Carlson another hour to clean and cut it.
Captain Rosenberg will present extensive photographic evidence at tomorrow's press conference. He concluded the interview by saying "I am very excited to have been part of this history making voyage. I would like to thank my crew, especially Mr. McCormack and Mr. Raymond. We wish they could have been a part of the return trip but I am sure they will be content to savor their place in sailing history".
The following photos show the effects of bananas on the outbound trip: Chip after a night on the trampoline bunks, the crew miserable in their foul weather gear, Dave can't catch a fish, and Ron shows the broken toilet seat.
The following photos show the difference when no bananas are on board: Boat speed of 8.8 knots, fair winds and flat seas, daily showers for the crew, and an 80 pound tuna!