changing boat name
Boat Denaming Ceremony by John Vigor
Due to an overwhelming number of requests for copies of John Vigor''s
Interdenominational Boat Denaming Ceremony, we are rerunning it again. Now,
take care to save this one!
I once knew a man in Florida who told me he''d owned 24 different yachts and
renamed every single one of them. "Did it bring you bad luck?" I asked. "Not
that I''m aware of," he said. "You don''t believe in those old superstitions,
do you?" Well, yes. Matter of fact, I do. And I''m not alone. Actually, it''s
not so much being superstitious as being v-e-r-y careful. It''s an essential
part of good seamanship. Some years ago, when I wanted to change the name of
my newly purchased 31-foot sloop from Our Way to Freelance, I searched for a
formal "denaming ceremony" to wipe the slate clean in preparation for the
renaming. I read all the books, but I couldn''t find one. What I did learn,
though,was that such a ceremony should consist of five parts: an invocation,
an expression of gratitude, a supplication, a re-dedication and a libation.
So I wrote my own short ceremony.
Vigor''s inter-denominational denaming ceremony. It worked perfectly.
Freelance carried me and my family many thousands ofdeep-sea miles both
north and south of the equator, and we enjoyed good luck all the way. I used
the same ceremony recently to change the name of my newly acquired Santana
22 from Zephyr to Tagati, a Zulu word that means "magic," or "bewitched."
We''re hoping she''ll sail like a witch when I finally get her in the water
this summer after an extensive refit. I''ll give you the exact wording of
Vigor''s denaming ceremony, but first you must remove all physical traces of
the boat''s old name. Take the old log book ashore, along with any other
papers that bear the old name. Check for offending books and charts with the
name inscribed. Be ruthless. Sand away the old name from the lifebuoys,
transom, top-side, dinghy, and oars.Yes, sand it away. Painting over is not
good enough. You''re dealing with gods here, you understand, not mere dumb
mortals. If the old name is carved or etched,try to remove it or, at the
very minimum, fill it with putty and then paintover. And don''t place the new
name anywhere on the boat before the denaming ceremony is carried out.
That''s just tempting fate. How you conduct the ceremony depends entirely on
you. If you''re the theatrical type, and enjoy appearing in public in your
yacht club blazer and skipper''s cap, you can read it with flair on the
foredeck before a gathering of distinguished guests. But if you find this
whole business faintly silly and embarrassing, and only go along with it
because you''re scared to death of what might happen if you don''t, you can
skulk down below and mumble it onyour own. That''s perfectly okay. The main
thing is that you carry it out.The words must be spoken. I compromised by
sitting in Tagati''s cockpit with the written-out ceremony folded into a
newspaper, so that any passerby would think I was just reading the news to
my wife, sitting opposite. Enough people think I''m nuts already. Even my
wife has doubts. The last part of the ceremony, the libation, must be
performed at the bow, just as it is in a naming ceremony. There are two
things to watch out for here. Don''t use cheap-cheap champagne, and don''t try
to keep any for yourself. Buy a second bottle if you want some. Use a brew
that''s reasonably expensive, based on your ability to pay, and pour the
whole lot on the boat. One of the things the gods of the sea despise most is
meanness, so don''t try to do this bit on the cheap. What sort of time period
should elapse between this denaming ceremony and a new naming ceremony?
There''s no fixed time. You can do the renaming right after the denaming, if
you want, but I personally would prefer to wait at least 24 hours to give
any lingering demons a chance to clear out.(Scroll down for the wording of
the ceremony.) Afterwards Now you can pop the cork, shake the bottle and
spray the whole of the contents on the bow. When that''s done, you can
quietly go below and enjoy the other bottle yourself. Incidentally, I had
word from a friend last month that the Florida yachtsman I mentioned earlier
had lost his latest boat, a 22-foot trailer-sailer. Sailed her into an
overhead power line. Fried her. She burned to the waterline. Bad luck? Not
exactly. He and his crew escaped unhurt.He was just very careless. He
renamed her, as usual, without bothering to perform Vigor''s famous
interdenominational denaming ceremony. And this time, at long last, he got
what he deserved.
Vigor''s Denaming Ceremony
"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 wind and the sea to favor us with their blessing today. "Mighty
Neptune, king of all that moves in or on the waves; and mighty Aeolus
(pronounced EE-oh-lus), 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 (_____), be struck and removed from your records. "Further, we
ask that when she is again presented for blessing with another name, she
shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the self same
privileges she previously enjoyed. "In return for which, we rededicate this
vessel to your domain infull knowledge that she shall be subject as always
to the immutable laws of the gods of the wind and the sea. "In consequence
whereof, and in good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered
according to the hallowed ritual of the sea."
After a boat is denamed, you simply need to rename it using the traditional
christening ceremony, preferably with Queen Elizabeth breaking a bottle of
champagne on the bow, and saying the words: "I name this ship ___________
and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her."
John Vigor, an Oak Harbor resident, is a boating writer and editor. He is
the author of The Practical Mariner''s Book of Knowledge (International
Marine) and Danger, Dolphins, and Ginger Beer (Simon and Schuster) a sailing
adventure novel for 8 to 12 year-olds.