Wednesday, May 14, 2014


     The DoleCalifornia ship, referred to as the “banana boat,” is not the prettiest or the largest—however, as it gently rolls into the San Diego Bay weekly, carrying up to 740 million  bananas, it's my favorite. It typically arrives on Sunday or early Monday, departs on Wednesday and is assisted by a tugboat. The times vary slightly, but it does come and go weekly.
     It docks, directly across the San Diego Bay from us, at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal. Immediately, there is activity around the vessel and soon the two five-story cranes start hoisting the 455 forty-foot containers from boat to awaiting truck beds. From here they are stored in the nearby warehouse or moved out right away. Hundreds of trucks arrive with empty containers which they exchange for loaded ones. The loads travel as far north as Canada and as far west as the Rockies.
     A few different ships rotate through (Dole California, Dole Costa Rica, Dole Ecuador, etc.), but they all look similar and have the Dole signage. Today's Dole California boat says Nassau which is where its registered. The IMO# stays the same during its lifetime which makes for easy identification. Using this number, I found out that this Dole California ship left Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 24th and stopped in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rico (April 28), and Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (April 30) along the way. Other interesting statistics: the year it was built (1989), home port (Nassau) and type (container). I like to use the  website that provides up-to-date information on all ships currently at sea.
     Dole has a 24½ year lease with the city to import and export fresh fruit at the 10th Avenue San Diego Marine Terminal. Dole FoodCompany, based in Westlake, California, is the largest importer of bananas in North America and the second largest importer of pineapples. Ecuador is the largest exporter of bananas to the United States. Bananas are the most popular fruit consumed in the world.
     Refrigerated trucks were developed originally in the 1940s and they continued to modernize until 1989 when these current ships were introduced causing quite a stir in the industry. Some called them the “un-banana boat” because the new technology transformed the shipping industry, eliminating waste and hundreds of jobs. Under this new automated system, plantation workers in Central America load boxes of bananas into containers set at a constant 57.5 degree F. They are not handled again until in the retailers warehouse.
     The huge ships carrying autos are more spectacular and colorful than the dull yellowish cream color banana boats. However, there is something special about watching these vessels arriving weekly with thousands of bananas and pineapples—no doubt carrying the banana I use in my daily smoothie.
                                                    Vintage Smoothie

                                                            1 tablespoon chia seeds (soak in milk for 10 minutes)
                                                            1 sliced banana 
                                                            1 cup frozen blueberries
                                                           ¼ cup protein powder-vanilla flavored
                                                            1 cup fat-free milk

                                                                     Blend together until smooth. Serves 2.


1 comment:

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