Boat names have always fascinated me. Over the past twenty years on the water, we often contemplate the names we see on other boats – Isn’t that an interesting name? Why did they choose that name? What significance does it have for them? Oh no, why would anyone name a boat THAT? And so on. A boat’s name is a reflection of its owners. Boats are much more personal than cars, and sometimes, even houses. We don’t usually name our houses, do we? Unless we are wealthy and it is an estate or an adorable summer cottage on Nantucket……..
Blue Water Sailing and Latitude 38 have guidelines that are worthy of consideration, and it would seem, often ignored.
1) The Explanation Test. How often do you want to explain what the name means? Bizarre Greek gods, in-jokes, and foreign words usually fail this test. Names that are difficult to spell fall in this category.
2) The Non-Cute Test. How sappy is the name? Puns, childhood nicknames, and in-jokes usually fail this test.
3) The Brevity Test. Imagine repeating your boat name 3 times, followed by a “Mayday”. Does it still sound like a good name?
4) The Hubris Test. If you’re racing, try not to pick names like “Magic Bullet”, “Blew By You” unless you feel you can live up to them.
5) The “Been There, Done That” Test. There are a lot of Island Time, Aquaholic, Serenity, Obsession, Second Wind, Andiamo, Carpe Diem. Unless, of course, that’s what the boat tells you her name is. Or if it truly has a special meaning for you.
6) The Embarrassment Factor. Imagine explaining your boat’s name, especially to people who don’t know you – Breaking Wind, She Got the House.
7) The Omen Test. Your boat may live up to the name if you try naming it Money Pit, Going Broke, B.O.A.T (Break Out Another Thousand.)
8) The Radio Test. “Over and Out” would be a bad name. … “This is Summertime calling Over and Out. Do you copy?”
If you have been reading this blog, you already know how we feel about our new boat’s name, Unfunded Requirement. It fails Tests #1,3, 6, and 7. In our opinion. 😉 But it did remind us of our Morgan’s previous name, L.O.C. which also failed several of those name tests.
One of the first things Al did when we returned to Groton with the Mariner Orient was to get that name off of the transom!!! Not the easiest task – it requires a heat gun, razor blade, rigorous cleaning and waxing. Mostly done on the swim platform, less than two feet wide.
Although I was quite active in our search for a trawler, my heart wasn’t always in it. We both loved our Morgan 43 sailboat; we both loved sailing. The decision to move to a trawler was designed to keep us on the water as long as possible, as we grow older (ouch!) and to make it easier for me with the lymphedema in my right leg. When it came time to put our name on the transom, I impulsively decided that a “christening” would help me turn the corner and accept this new boat with open arms.
We decided we would continue with the name Kindred Spirit. Why that name? Just before we found our Catalina 34, we were watching the PBS mini-series, Anne of Green Gables. Al and I had only been married for a few years, and friends (Steph & Chuck – do you remember?) who were also watching the series, commented that Al and I had found our “kindred spirit” in each other.
And so, our first Kindred Spirit was born. The next owners of our Catalina 34 and our Morgan 43 have kept the name Kindred Spirit. I believe that is a compliment to Al’s wonderful skill as a captain and boat owner – each boat was reborn and given new life through his talented hands.
Renaming a boat is not something to be done lightly. Nautical folklore says that changing the name will anger the sea gods and curse the boat with bad luck. Reality – almost 90% of all named boats have already been re-named and those other 10% of newer boats will be re-named in the future. Are they really all cursed? I think not. Disregarding superstition, we went ahead and changed the name anyway. The name Kindred Spirit has worked well for us before and will continue, I am sure. I am convinced that I heard the boat give an audible sigh of relief as Al finished the job.
Changing the name is a big decision, so I decided this must be done with reverence, respect, and guidance from various authentic sources – Google to the rescue! I liked this quote (forget where I found it) –“Some say that when a boat is named it has been enlivened, and from that time on the vessel must be treated with the same respect that we would have for a person. “
Most sources (sites such as BlueWater Sailing, John Vigor, Boatsafe.com, boatnames.net) give similar versions of a boat christening ceremony. I decided that a “Watson blend” would suit us best. According to tradition and legend, every vessel is recorded by specific name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea. Therefore, in order to change the name of our boat, we first must purge the former name from the Ledger of the Deep and from Poseidon’s memory. In other words, de-name the boat.
I was a little concerned when I read that all traces of the former name must be removed before bringing anything aboard with the new name — we unknowingly violated that rule!
There are a few ways to re-name a boat:
1) After the de-naming, one scuttles the boat out of sight of land for cleansing, then re-float it, followed by the renaming.
2) Have a virgin urinate on the bow while renaming the boat and asking Poseidon’s blessing.
3) Pour very good red wine (or champagne) on the bow and offer some to the god Poseidon/Neptune.
Easy decision!! We will use Method #3, minus the red wine. Seriously – pour red wine on a boat?? That happens unintentionally far too often!
Once we decided to go forward with de-naming and re-naming, we also decided to invite a few friends to witness and celebrate the event with us.
I assembled the necessary items:
- Champagne/Prosecco and food (rum cake and fruit)
- An “ingot” (a metal tag with the old name written on it in an ink that will wash away in the sea)
- Our “Black Box” (For anyone who owns a boat, we strongly suggest that you read John Vigor’s Black Box Theory. His box was figurative but we made a literal one in 2001 to symbolize our belief in the black box theory. Every one of our Kindred Spirits has carried this box onboard.)
- Conch horns
On Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 11:00 am Unfunded Requirement ceremoniously and officially became our Kindred Spirit. We picked up guests at the wash down dock.
In case anyone would like to use the Watson ceremony, here it is in its entirety:
In the name of all who have sailed aboard this ship in the past, and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient gods of the sea and the wind to favor us with their blessing today.
Mighty Neptune, also hailed as Poseidon king of all that moves in or on the waves; and mighty Aeolus, guardian of the winds and all that blows before them:
We offer you our thanks for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past.
We voice our gratitude that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and enjoyed safe passage to port.
Now, wherefore, we submit this supplication, that the name whereby this vessel has hitherto been known, Unfunded Requirement, be struck and removed from your records in the Ledger of the Deep. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea.
Further, we ask that when she is again presented for blessing with the name Kindred Spirit, she shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the privileges she previously enjoyed as well as those privileges enjoyed by every Kindred Spirit that has come before her.
For thousands of years, we have gone to sea. We have crafted vessels to carry us and we have called them by name. These ships will nurture and care for us through perilous seas, and so we affectionately call them “she.” To them we toast, and ask to celebrate Kindred Spirit.
The moods of the sea are many, from tranquil to violent. We ask that this ship be given the strength to carry on. We promise to care for her in a seamanlike manner and to keep her “Black Box” filled with points.
Today we come to name this lady Kindred Spirit, and send her to sea to be cared for, and to care for the Watson family. We ask the sailors of old and our God of heaven, earth and sea to accept Kindred Spirit as her name, to help her through her passages, and allow her to return with her crew safely.
All toast and call out — -“TO THE SEA…..TO THE SAILORS BEFORE US…TO KINDRED SPIRIT” Blow conch horns
I name this ship Kindred Spirit and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her.”
Time to celebrate!
She really is a handsome and a very comfortable boat. Maybe it is silly, but I now feel like I can accept this transition to a trawler and enjoy it. Our christening (de-naming and re-naming) really helped me.
After the christening ceremony, we went for a day trip over to West Harbor on Fisher’s Island with our land neighbors, Marge and Jim.
What a great day!
By the way, have you noticed the new header for the blog? Both of our Kindred Spirits are now there – the Morgan on the day we left on our trip to the Bahamas, and the Mariner on the day we brought her home to Connecticut. I think it works well. We send a special thank you to Mary Jo and Dean for both of those photos.