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Naming Your Boat
By Lynn Whitney
You just bought a boat and you need to think of a name. Christening your boat is a rite of passage. It’s the day you’ve been dreaming of. But coming up with a proper name for your vessel is just not that easy. It has to fit your boat, your personality, your life style. It’s like naming your children. You will be judged!
Of course, you want your boat’s name to be original, unique to you. To make it a little easier, here are some things to take into consideration. First, think about safety. For practical reasons, don’t make the name too long. You need to be able to effectively relay your boat’s name. Also, you may need to spell out your boat’s name phonetically over the VHF. Anything over ten letters, get comfortable, you are going to be there for a while. Second, how do you want to be seen by your boating community? While Aquaholic is a perennial favorite, does it really suit you? Be aware that anything suggesting excessive drinking and boating, might attract the attention of the Coast Guard. Third, boats are always referred to as, “she,” so consider using the name of an important female in your life. Lastly, think long and hard about what is important to you, what invokes a pleasant memory, a dream, an inspiration. Be clever, but remember, your boat is a reflection of you.
On to the next step, the Christening, or naming ceremony. This is meant to bring good luck to the new ship and those who sail on it. These ceremonies are based on traditions that are thousands of years old. Early Viking rituals were marked by the spilling of blood. By the Middle Ages, wine was offered as a substitute for blood. The wine was poured on the deck as an offering to King Neptune in exchange for good luck and safe passage. Current traditions around the world have women christening the ships. The ceremony includes the smashing of a bottle of champagne across the ship’s bow followed by saying, “I name this ship________ and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her.” After the ship is launched, wine or champagne can be poured in the water from west to east. Now, this may sound a little extreme, but take note, the Titanic was never christened.
Renaming a boat. Now that can be risky as it is considered to be very unlucky. But if you’ve purchased a pre-owned boat or need to change the name for any reason, there is a procedure. As legend has it, every ship is recorded in the Ledger of the Deep and known personally to Neptune, the god of the sea, so the first thing to be done is to purge the ship’s name from the ledger. To do this, all physical traces of the boat’s old name must be removed. The old log book , along with any other charts or papers with the name on them, must be taken ashore. Write the soon to be exorcised name on a piece of paper, fold the paper, place it in a cardboard box and burn it. Throw the ashes into the sea on an outgoing tide. If you live on a lake, do it at night and only during a full moon. On a river, send the ashes downstream. The last thing to be done, is to prepare a metal ingot with the old name written on it in water-soluble ink. Now you must wait one day before the Renaming Ceremony.
For the Renaming Ceremony, a bottle of good champagne must be purchased. Neptune’s name must be invoked as the mighty ruler of the seas, and implored to expunge the records and recollections of the old name of the vessel. At this point the ingot should be dropped from the bow into the sea, followed by pouring at least half a bottle of champagne into the water, from east to west. Now, Neptune must be implored once more to take into his records and recollections, the new name of the vessel. More champagne must be poured into the water, from west to east. The next step is to appease the gods of the winds. Since there are four brothers, each must be invoked while flinging a flute of champagne in their respective direction. When the ceremony has been completed, you may bring aboard all items bearing the new name of your vessel, but be sure the name is not revealed until then.
The following is a list of some of the most popular names compiled over the last 20 years:
Seas the Day
So now it’s your turn. Have fun. Be creative. Come up with a thoughtful, memorable name for your boat. And, no, Boaty McBoatface simply will not do!