Here is one prior string on the subject: It began with a fellow questioning why we stick to superstitions in the 21st century.
In Reply to: Superstition be damned.
I'm not sure I get your point but it is clear to me that must be right that there is no place for silly superstitions. Now ritual which has definite cause and effect you must respect. Take the one about changing the name of a boat. I am sure this is just coincidence but of the twenty plus some boats owned by myself and my family, we only changed the name of three, that was the two that lost their masts and the one that was sunk on the rocks at Fort Toten. Not a large scientific sampling mind you, but a 100% correlation sounds like cause and effect to me. I don't believe in superstition only what can be proven by scientific method. I am glad you are willing to continue our testing where we left off. Bravo, my brave man.
Jeff (Think he bought that?)
With you all the way...at a safe distance! Posted by ACB on July 08, 1998:
It's a funny thing, but I have spent my life in commercial shipping and
while we do have to rename ships we are a deeply superstitious lot!
Actually, superstition has a sort of place in keeping up morale; if you
have complied with all the superstitions you feel better, and are
perhaps likely to perform better. We should know the physics of sailing
well enough by now, but the tired human brain after a few days at sea
needs all the support it can get!
Reply to: If you don't believe in senseless superstitions, why name a boat at all?
Perhaps it is my fault that my point did not come through, since I gave the posting a somewhat inflammatory title. I certainly was not slamming "respect and celebration of the world around us". I was making a much more focused point. I was trying to say that we should not be bound by practices which no longer make sense (see me examples re departure date and hull color). Particularly when these practices are in lieu of proper seamanship. As to your specific points, I am sure you would agree that something failed which resulted in those rigs coming down, and there is nothing mystical about things failing on sailboats. My rudder did not fall off because of bad Feng Shui. The pin ate through the wood after swinging back and forth for 15 years. Why not give the boat a name that captures its essence PLUS your relationship to it.
And I suppose, next you're going to tell me that whistling doesn't affect the wind strength!
Posted by Jeff H
Of course the fact that you changed the name of your boat had nothing to do with the fact that your rudder functioned perfectly for 15 years but chose to break after you changed the name of the boat. The fact that it broke clearly PROVES nothing at all. I think it is important that you keep testing. We all admire your bravery. And I suppose next your going to tell me that whistling doesn't affect the wind strength! After 37 years of testing and noting a direct correlation between wind speed and whistling, for me, I think that "superstition" has been proven to be actual scientific fact. I have tested this many times. Whenever I whistle on board the wind eventually increases in velocity. OK, so it doesn't happen immediately but sooner or later the winds increase. Ok, maybe it is a few days later, but it still works! Keep up the good work!
(For those of you who are about to have me locked up, I want to point out that to some extent my comments on this are meant to be a bit tongue in cheek but only a bit.)
Posted by Evelyn Keller on June 04, 1998 :
I am looking for information, or a source or reference, where I can find out how to perform a ceremony (some suggested words to say & actions to take) to rename a boat formerly owned by someone else. I'd appreciate information from those who may have done this before, or the date, page number where I can find this information.
Posted by Jason on June 10, 1998 at 12:57:47:
If you have already bought the boat, it's too late! However, if you buy the boat without a name (have the current owner take her name off, and sell her without a name) you are free to name her whatever you wish. best of luck!
Posted by Carl Miller on June 05, 1998 at 05:40:24:
In a spirit of cooperation with the Name Gods, I would offer the following technique in renaming a boat:
An alternate method involves scraping off the old name and painting on the new name. However, first it is recommended that you empty the contents (internally of course) of a good 200-yr. old+ "Jose Cuervo" or "Sauza" Tequila.
This process cleanses the soul and prepares the boat for a proper skipper!
Then, there is plan "B" discovered ages ago by the Vikings. It will permanently remove the old name without the use of paint removers, putty knives, heat guns, but does employ the use of natural elements. This requires the flame as a result of natural lightning. One may arrest the Fire Gods thru the use of a torch. In the 2nd and final stage of the cleansing, one simply burns the sucker down to the water line and sets the boat adrift in a quiet place of your own choosing. There is an upside to the endeavor....it also removes stuff from those dark corners of the lockers, eliminates those old unsightly PFD's that are never thrown away, and at the same time, stains on the decks disappear forever.
p.s. the yellow stuff with a worm is probably Mescal not Tequila. Salud amigos!
Posted by ACB on June 05, 1998 at 01:51:07:
I am extremely superstitious about boats; the result of long experience. Re-naming a boat is a BAD IDEA and will certainly lead to trouble; better buy a different boat. Never paint a boat green or disaster will ensue (I know this to be true - bought a green painted boat, did not rename her but thought I would get through the first season without a repaint - lost rudder in North Sea.) Never start a cruise on a Friday. Never EVEN MENTION the long eared fellow on a boat and with due respect to Bob G I would advise against using the foot of the animal in any ceremony close to a boat. All Christian priests of whatever persuasion should be carefully avoided in any ceremonies to do with boats.
If you MUST do it, I have found during a career in merchant shipping in Asia that Shinto priests are capable of performing the renaming ceremony without ill-effects, and that a visit by a Feng Shui practitioner usually gets rid of residual ill-luck. If you cannot manage this them at least pour a libation to Tin Hau, the Taoist Queen of Heaven, who takes a special interest in small boats.
This is a true story. Two cargo passenger ships were built to run between Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. One was a perfect ship and nothing went wrong. The twin sister went aground twice (expensively, on Japanese oyster beds!) The Hong Kong crew demanded a Feng Shui man or they would not sail. He came on board and located the source of the trouble. In an alcove in the first class smoking room was an antique statue of the Buddha. He pronounced that this was a "land Buddha" and was always trying to get ashore, hence the groundings. No problem - he had a solution. He removed the rather expensive statue and reappeared with a very cheap and nasty one which he pronounced was a "sea Buddha" and installed in the alcove. The ship ran for the next 20 years with no more trouble!
Posted by ray on June 04, 1998 :
Check out the 48 North (PNW magazine) web site. They have a "Boat De-naming Ceremony" that you can down load and use. The author finds it critical that you "de-name" the boat correctly or you are in deep ....
This is EXACTLY what you must do
Posted by tomC on June 04, 1998 at 08:50:11:
Here it is, from the Fishmeal FAQ:
Yes, there *is* a way to change a boat's name without upsetting the various deities of the sea and air. First time out with the new name on the boat, luff up into the wind and drift to a complete stop, then allow the boat to sail backwards. This represents "backing over" the old name. Sailing backwards is hard -
requires a good breeze, some waves usually help, and a fair amount of skill. But the goddesses and gods that are concerned with these matters are not easy to impress! If the boat is a fin keel type with a separate rudder, you should be able to stabilize in backward mode and do it for at least a few boat lengths. For a full-keeler, the spirits will most likely be appeased with a half-boat length or so. Under no circumstance should you do this under power! If the boat is a powerboat, you will have bad luck with the new name until you have run aground three times. I don't know if these can be intentional groundings - perhaps someone with more experience in this area could clarify this.