This ceremony worked well for us. Nothing drastic has happened to us or the boat since we changed the name 12 years ago. Obviously, it's all in fun, for those of you who condemn pagan gods. And it's a good excuse for a party. We have one friend who shows up at name changing ceremonies dressed as King Neptune.
Now all we need is a ceremony to appease whichever god it is that protects boats from things that break.
First you must go through the de-naming ceremony:
• One Bell - A thorough search must be made of the boat to expunge any and all instances of the old name off the boat from any documents, items, or boat inscriptions. Up to ten minutes can be allotted for this procedure as you don’t want to miss anything.
• Two Bells - Observers will then assemble on the bow of the vessel for the ceremonial popping of the champagne cork. Should be done with suitable solemnity - as few giggles as possible should be emitted. All should face away from the direction of the wind.
• Three Bells - With the following words, the crystal champagne glasses of all observers should be filled, with one observer designated to hold the glasses of the god of the Wind, Aeolus and the god of the Sea, Neptune. Great care must be taken that the gods’ glasses not only hold more but that it is pointed out that they hold more by clicking each glass as in toast. With backs still to the wind, and glasses raised, the ship’s skipper shall say:
“Oh, Great Neptune, Ruler of the Seas, and keeper of the omniscient and all-encompassing logbook, we ask in humble supplication for you to take just a moment to look up in your logbook all references to the vessel once known as the (Fill in name of boat). Take your time, we can wait. (Pause of suitable length.) If ye hath found more than one ship by the name (Fill in name of boat), please compare the descriptions given in thy great and omniscient logbook to the vessel upon which we are standing. While thou art comparing, please also take note that we have used the terms ye and hath and thy and so on, which we humbly believe to be suitable terms with which to converse with a god of your formidable repute. If we are mistaken and you prefer a more informal approach, one more in keeping with the earthy language more familiar to sailors, we will attempt to rectify this error. See, what we want you to do is get out your eraser and remove every reference to the (Fill in name of boat) in your logbook. Because the idiot who owned it before us didn’t take very good care of her, and pretty much let her go to hell in a handbasket. We promise you that all that is about to change with the new owners and we beseech you to take this into consideration and treat her with tender mercies as she and her crew ply your majestic seas. We now offer to you a token symbolic of the ancient traditions of the mariners as we raise our glasses and guzzle the champagne we have brought for this occasion. We give to you a share also, but don’t drink it too fast because we don’t want it to go to your head before you finish with the erasing procedure. If you incur any costs in the log expunging procedure, please notify us and we will do our best to pay up. If your procedures are as intensive as our earthly ones in dealing with the Coast Guard, well, all I can say is no wonder we’re so screwed up.”
• Four Bells -all participants shall drain their champagne glasses, except the one designated to hold the glasses of the gods. He shall pour the contents of Neptune’s glass overboard - slowly and with great solemnity if he feels that Neptune wishes to be treated with solemnity. If he feels that Neptune is in a more jovial mood, he may smile, laugh, kick up his heels or do what ever the mood strikes him. The Captain shall pour a judicious amount (smaller than that of the gods) directly from the bottle onto the bow of the boat. When the drinking and pouring have finished the skipper shall hold his empty glass at arms length toward the sea and say “Thanks, Nep.”
• Six Bells - all must turn and face into the wind. The ceremonial filling of the glasses will commence again - except of course for the glass of Neptune which should be set aside, while the skipper says,
“Oh, great Aeolus, god of the Wind, whose name does not mean nipple, in spite of what some of the less informed participants may mistakenly believe, who has for many years seen this ship formerly known as the the (Fill in name of boat), safely back to port, we entreat you to grant our request that this vessel continue to be looked upon kindly by you and your cohorts and that you will no longer look upon this vessel as having the appellation (Fill in name of boat) and that this interminably long sentence with its overabundance of conjunctions and clauses will soon come to an end. You may check with Neptune at your next organizational powwow as he is taking care of the paperwork. But do double check for us on this matter we beseech you because, just between you and us, we happen to know that he has been drinking .“
• Seven bells - Then the ceremonial draining of the champagne glasses shall occur as before, except that he designated to be the water boy to the gods shall toss the contents of the glass high into the air, being careful that none lands on the participants. And the skipper shall again hold his empty glass at arm’s length, into the wind and say, “Thanks, Aeolus.”
• Eight Bells - After this brief ceremony, and after disposing of these pages all should retire below decks to finish of the rest of the champagne and then prepare for the naming ceremony.
• One Bell - Name and hailing port shall be carefully fastened upon the boat. Entry shall be made in the log book of the new name and of the time and date. All participants shall sign the log book.
• Two Bells - The ceremonial popping of the champagne cork and the pouring thereof, including two glasses poured for your old drinking buddies, Neptune and Aeolus and held for the appropriate disposition by the designated holder of the god’s glasses shall take place at the stern of the boat. It should be pointed out to this holder of the god’s glasses that this is a position of great honor, to make up for the fact that he can’t drink any of champagne. Care should be taken that the glasses should not be the same as the glasses used in the de-naming ceremony.
• Three Bells - To help set the appropriate mood, the soft lilting sound of an all kazoo band playing classical melodies. Suggested are such great musical masterpieces as the Theme from Popeye, and the one that everybody knows the name of but nobody knows how it goes, What shall we do with the Drunken Sailor, and that other Nautical Classic that nobody can ever think of the name of but everybody knows the tune and the kids sing words like “You can never, never, ever do a thing about the weather, cause the weather never, ever does a thing for you.”
• Four bells - With backs to the wind and accompanied by standard touching of glasses the skipper shall say,
“Oh, Great Neptune, ruler of the seas, and old drinking buddy, we hope you still have your omniscient logbook handy because we have another of our supplications. If you’re through work for today, we apologize, but we would like to enter our application for a new name for our vessel. The new name shall be (Fill in name of boat), which, as I’m sure you already know, means in Japanese, ‘a dream fulfilled’. We ask that you enter this in your omniscient logbook whenever you find it convenient and that you let the other gods know who may have a hand in watching over and protecting (Fill in name of boat) and her crew. As per usual, if there are any charges involved, etc. etc. Again we offer you a toast in remembrance of all of the good ships and mariners you have protected in times gone by and that you look with favor on (Fill in name of boat) and protect her and see her safely through her voyages. And what the heck, if you want to stop by for a rum tot sometime, welcome aboard but just don’t expect ambrosia, or even champagne all the time ‘cause we’re just not that rich, but if your willing to take pot luck, drop by!“
• Five Bells - the glasses are drained, and the designated holder of the gods’ glasses again empties Neptune’s glass overboard, taking care that it does not drip upon the stern.
• Six Bells - all shall turn to face the wind and as the glasses are refilled and the touching of glasses is repeated the skipper shall say,
“Oh, Great Aeolus, god of the wind, remember me? I was just talking to you a short time ago, and anyway, I’ve got another favor to ask - Please recognize this vessel, as the vessel newly named (Fill in name of boat), and blow gently upon her and always from a direction to speed her safely to her destinations, and even more gently when she is at anchor, just enough to keep the bugs off would be great. And again, could you check with Neptune to make sure he got the paperwork processed in a timely fashion. When I talked to him earlier, I got the impression he was quitting for the day and heading out the celestial door. I’ve always had the impression that a night off for you immortals would be somewhat of an eternity for us mere mortals. So I would greatly appreciate it if you could expedite the paperwork, or maybe get Neptune’s secretary to push it through. Anyway, thanks for all of your trouble. And know you’re always welcome up to about a force 5 or 6. Here’s to you, friend and mighty god of the wind.”
• Seven Bells - Glasses are raised and drained, some spilled on the stern from the bottle by the skipper. The designated holder of Aeolus’ glass tosses it’s contents high into the air, again being careful that none falls on any participants. Participants retire to the interior of the vessel, giggle, laugh, tell sea stories and other lies. When he hears the wind roaring through the shrouds, the Captain realizes he has forgotten his final salute, fills his glass and steps out on deck, raises his glass to the wind and says, “Thanks, Aeolus.”
• Eight Bells – the Captain says, profoundly, of course, “Because this vessel plies the mighty waters of the (Fill in blank), there is one more god to whom we must appeal, one of the lesser gods, who covers these waters. This is the god know as Morse. In ancient times, Morse set up a code of conduct for the crews of vessels. To this day it is still an important document. It states simply, “The Captain is always right.” All of the crewing on (Fill in name of vessel) will be done using this method. To seal this I would like to propose a toast, please repeat after me…” the Captain raises his glass, “please repeat after me, loudly and three times: To Morse crewing. To Morse crewing. To Morse crewing.”
The ceremony is thus unceremoniously completed.