As we loaded onto S. V. TravelEdge for our first time, the skipper and first mate exchanged a look when we passed two swaths of bananas up from the dinghy. Bananas are considered bad luck, a superstition that has a scientific reason – bananas release a gas that triggers other foods to ripen soon. On a boat, we carry hammocks of unripe produce to last us the next 21 days at sea. Adding bananas to the mix would result in having too much fruit ripe all at the same time, and we’d have to dump spoiled food overboard. The skipper and first mate both knew this.

So does Emily Penn, the trip leader and co-founder of eXXpedition, who witnessed local Rapa Nui people give the produce to Tavi on shore. Tavi, is the Parley Bursary recipient for Leg 8, sailing from Rapa Nui to Tahiti. Not only does she run a surf school, but she’s a local hero for her work on the local ocean clean-up project, and planet healthy food consumption she encourages at the local café.

Fresh produces hangs inside SV TravelEdge (Photo credit: eXXpedition/Emily Penn)


Friends and family sent Tavi off with fruit and produce, her sister gave her passion fruit, her best friend with bananas and pumpkins, and her uncle with avocadoes and mangos— after the recent storms knocked several down from trees he had even more that needed to be used.

When the skipper and first mate gave Emily a questioning look about the bananas, she shrugged and said that if we keep them up on deck, they won’t impact the rest of the fruit. Others of the crew soon made a plan for making banana bread.

Later we are sent off into the community with questions to ask shopkeepers and community members, Emily reminds us to be open and receptive to whatever answers we receive. It’s easy to think we know the right way, but when we remain open to community members we have the opportunity to learn.

As we pick up trash and talk to locals, I remember the bananas. How they were intended as a gift. The giver had no idea of the bad luck bananas are thought to bring on a boat. The swath of still-green bananas hanging off the stern deck remind me that sometimes taking in the perspectives of others expands our view. As we set out to find solutions and learn from crew members with diverse backgrounds, this expansive and creative mindset helps us to find solutions.