Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Renaming Your Boat - Ceremony Required?

Article by William L.Gills aka Bos'n Bill

If you just bought the boat of your dreams only to find the name on the transom is a nightmare you can't live with, names like Irritable Bow, Big Woody or Sir Osis of the River you might want to change the name to something more suitable to your taste and values.  Before you do this though, you need to consider some ancient traditions before you plow ahead and remove the offending moniker.  What I'm about to tell you may only be superstition, but in the proverbial verse, "better safe than sorry" there is a lot more than a hint of wisdom.

Renaming a boat should not be taken too lightly.  Unlucky boats are usually the ones that have defied the gods of the sea, (that's gods plural, emphasis added). Of course, everyone has heard of the legendary Neptune, the "Big Kahuna" who controls the  oceans and the seas, but don't forget Nereus, Proteus, Glaucus and Phorkys and the rulers of the winds; they must be appeased as well.

According to legend, every ship and boat ever named is recorded in a big tally book, the Ledger of the DeepNeptune knows personally each and every vessel enumerated in the tally book, even yours, and he gets angry when ordinary human beings dishonor him by pulling a name change without letting him know.

So here's what you need to do to avert the wrath of the gods and ensure good fortune throughout the life of the vessel.  Get a christening/boat renaming ceremony going, beginning with a purging of your boat's name from the Ledger of the Deep and Neptune's impeccable memory.  You need to do this rather quickly, don't drag your anchor. You only have thirty days to perform the rite or the name will attach itself to you and you won't be able to remove it no matter how many litanies you recite. 

To remove an old boat name from the Ledger of the Deep, be absolutely sure there are no traces of it anywhere on or in your boat.  Either remove the name completely or expunge it from log books, stickers, memorabilia and charts using white-out or black marker pen.  There cannot be the tiniest trace of the old name anywhere on the boat, especially on the transom AND you must never utter the name of the old girl again in the vicinity of the vessel or your purging will be incomplete and rendered moot. 

This is very important and not to be taken lightly.  One hapless boat owner I knew performed the ceremony only to find an old registration with the old boat name on it in a far corner of his starboard locker.  I urged him to consider a redo of the ceremony which he ceremoniously declined.  All I know, is that his boat was besieged with issues;  the port engine died, a hole was punched in his hull when it hit a submerged rock, his isinglass blew out in a gale and his starboard stuffing box leaked like a sieve, scuttling the boat. Happenstance or a Neptune design? You be the judge.

Back to the ceremony.  As tradition would have it, you must invite everyone who is important to the boat to be at the christening.  I'm talking about your kids, your pets, your fishing buddies, girlfriend, first mate, grandpa and Uncle Eddy.  Get yourself a couple of bottles of the best bubbly you can afford and get some of those cheap plastic champagne glasses for your boating kit and kin. They don't care, they just want the champagne

Once assembled, you may begin the purging ceremony by invoking the name of the Ruler of the Deep.  This is where you praise and honor his magnificence and implore his benevolent graces to expunge the current name of your boat from his official Ledger, offering libations of champagne in grateful acknowledgement of his welcome dispensations.  Pour half a bottle over the bow into the sea and share the rest with your guests.

With the name graciously eradicated you may begin the renaming proceedings by imploring his majesty, King Neptune to recognize the new name you have chosen.  In appreciation for his beneficence, offer more libations of champagne and have a glass yourself with your honored first mate.

Finally, not to be forgotten are the mighty Rulers of the Winds; Great Boreas, Zephyrus, Eurus and Notus who have dominion over the four corners of the earth.  Your frail vessel must traverse into the scourge of their mighty breaths and you need their blessings.  Libations of your finest champagne should be flung to the north, west, east and south in that order as you address and honor each god asking for safe passage and the benefits and pleasures of their bounty.

At this point, your vessel has become sacrosanct and you can unveil the new name of your renamed boat unto the gaze of your honored guests. It is best that the name you have chosen is somehow unique to you, not a borrowed name like so many boaters fancy to do.  The gods are tired of names like Serenity, Island Time, Obsession, Time Out and Serendipity. There are just too many of them around and they're tiresome and dull.  Not only do they take up unnecessary space on the Ledger of the Deep, they lack imagination and are an abomination to the gods!

As to ceremony or no ceremony, you know what you're supposed to do when you rename a boat and you have a simple choice;  perform the ritual as legions have since the earliest  of historical maritime accounts or take your chances with displeased, angry sea and wind gods.  As for me, I lean in the opposite direction of the seen and unforeseen consequences of an indifferent mariner. It's up to you of course, it's your boat, Cap.

William L. Gills aka Bos'n Bill is the author of the book, Lubber's Log published by Llumina Press; a boating primer and adventure story about a couples experiences in moving up to a bigger boat.  

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