How safe are banana boat rides? Exercise caution while you enjoy

banana boat

With the long Eid holiday coming up, if you intend to have fun by the sea and hop onto a banana boat, make sure to read this before you make a splash

As summer kicks in, its time to think bananas… We mean banana boats – the inflatable fruit craft which can be quite dangerous, especially if you are a non-swimmer.

If you’ve been anywhere near the sea in the past in Muscat, you’ll know the answer to what banana boats are all about. A key feature of water sports at popular beach resorts, you don’t have to look far to spot them because their fancy shape and bright colours will definitely attract your attention.

The question, however, is how safe are these banana boats. According to experts, banana boat rides may be fun but it can be a life-threatening experience for some.

“Those who want to try it must be good swimmers. Even good swimmers need to be more careful, when tossed off the boat in the mid deep sea. Anything can happen there. Those in the banana boat business should also ensure that life jackets be made available in all sizes for revellers. And if they don’t have them, they should not take people for such rides. I would not suggest anyone to try it unless there are proper safety measures,” Tariq al Khabouri, founder of Oman Disabled Divers Association, says.

“Riders need to be sure to wear life jackets, and should hold on tight at all times. The person towing the banana boat should also beware of going too fast, and should make sure it is properly secured to the leader vessel,” he added.

Recalling an incident years ago, Fatmah al Naamani, who had taken up one such ride, can’t stop thinking about what she went through with these ‘yellow plastic fruits’. The fun and excitement of the day turned into a scary nightmare when she was tossed off the boat and scampered for dear life in the midst of choppy waves.

“We were holding on tight to the handles of the banana boat but the waves were so high that we started swaying up and down over the banana boat. I wanted to signal the boat ahead that this was too fast for me to bear but I couldn’t. We kept on screaming, jumping up high, and I felt deep within that our lives were now in danger. Since I was seated first on the row, I could see all that’s happening straight in front of me,” she said.

“Minute after minute, the driver would turn her head behind to check on us. At this moment we were already far in the ocean and still being tossed high. Before we could realise, the banana boat overturned and tossed all of us in the water, and most began drowning,” she recalled.

Unable to swim to save themselves, Fatmah said they began drowning underwater and could only see darkness.

“I just knew this was the end of my lifetime journey. While underwater, I was so terrified because I didn’t know where the rest were. Everyone struggled to stay afloat. I finally emerged from the water but couldn’t see my husband around. A few seconds later, he emerged too,” she said.

Another victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “I always thought banana boats were just easy going and a fun experience. However, I cant forget what happened to me when I was thrown away from it due to high waves and high speed. I though my life was done. Moreover, there were no proper instructions given, nor did we get life jackets of a proper size.”

“Knowing my life jacket would be washed away any time, I held on to my wife, who was also with me under water. I would say she was my hero and she saved my life. Thank God she was near me. We tried to help ourselves around the small boat until we found the ladder attached to it. But we had no strength anymore to climb onto it. We called out for help from the captain of the boat, and finally made it,” he said.

So, are you ready for the ride? If yes, make sure to wear an appropriate life-jacket, stay alert, hold on, and have fun!

Benefits of the ride

Banana boat ride gives you the same excitement as other adventure water sports like a Jet Ski ride. However, you don’t have to increase the speed of a banana boat to experience the fun and adventure. A banana boat can accommodate up to 10 people. If you exercise the right cautions, adults and teens will enjoy the excitement it brings, even if you don’t know how to swim. But insist on wearing a life-jacket, even if you are a good swimmer.

Strengthens muscles

Your main muscle group is the one that can benefit fully when you try to stabilise your position. One of the main muscle groups being worked is your abdominal muscles, especially when you try to maintain your balance through jumps and waves. You’re not just sitting, but doing your muscle group a huge favour.

Keeps you entertained

The banana boat ride is a recreational activity that you can enjoy with your family and friends. Instead of strolling by the beach, riding a banana boat lets you see what the blue sea has to offer in a more entertaining and exciting way. If you want an activity where you can spend some quality time with your family, this activity should be on your list.

Burns calories

You don’t want to be a couch potato even while on vacation do you? Why not incorporate a fun water sport that burns calories? Riding a banana boat may seem like a simple activity. All you have to do is to sit and wait for the boat operator to start the engine right? It allows you to burn calories. If you want to get rid of those love handles, take a ride regularly.

Improves cardiovascular system

With a banana boat ride, you will also give your cardiovascular system a good water workout. With an improved cardiovascular system, you will be able to increase your blood circulation by bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your body. It also results in eliminating the toxins from your body quickly. It only goes to show that a banana boat ride is not just an entertaining and fun activity but a good way to improve your health.

(Text: Shaddad al Musalmy)

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