Name and Lettering



Renaming and lettering the boat brings up some more adventures. In the first place, the original name of the boat was know where to be seen and nobody seemed to know what it was except for some vague references. In order to have good luck on this renaming, I went through the following procedures:


Vigor's Interdenominational
Boat Denaming Ceremony

by John Vigor

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 of deep-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 paint over. 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 on your 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 .)


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 selfsame privileges she previously enjoyed.
"In return for which, we rededicate this vessel to your domain in full 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."

The name removal was easy, just dug up every receipt and paper in any cubby hole and threw it away. I then proceeded to remove the California boat numbers for good measure. Using a hair dryer and scraper, got all the black off. I'm still working on the white sticky residue (acetone doesn't cut it). I performed the ceremony last Saturday with a good bottle of champagne. Waited a good week and then put the new name on her.

We are going to do the official christening February 6 before the superbowl party we are hosting. The christening will be one of the two ceremonies outlined below:


Christening Ceremony
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."

Ah, Spring! Pollen fills the air, and boats of all sizes and shapes begin to settle into their thawed berths, awaiting the attention they've been missing all winter.

For the new boat owner, it's finally time to fill the lungs with the smell of that new fiberglass hull, fresh from the factory. The new boat 's adoptive family is feeling good about completing the Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety course over the winter, and even the family dog seems to sense an excitement in the air that makes this Spring different from all the others in some special way.

Getting the new boat ready for the water is largely the responsibility of the boat dealer these days. All you were required to do was pick it out, sign the paperwork and write the check. But there's one other thing you ought to consider before taking that sparkling beauty out onto the water for her maiden voyage, and that's to arrange a proper "christening ceremony ." Ships have been christened throughout the centuries for a reason, and I say why take a chance?

It always has been intended that a proper christening and the accompanying ceremony ensures good fortune to the lady and her crew throughout the life of the vessel. It's comforting to think that if a vessel does have a run of bad luck, it will be because her christening ceremony was poorly written or performed, rather than sea monsters, her Captain's incompetence, or any number of other reasons we'd rather not contemplate.

One new vessel's christening and launching seemed to strangely forebode its fate. Following the christening of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the iron ore behemoth slid down the skids and into the water at an unusual, precarious angle, throwing a monstrous wave back onto the launch area. The giant hull then crashed back against the pier with such violence that one onlooker actually suffered a heart attack and died. An observer commented, "The Fitzgerald seemed as though it was trying to climb back out of the water!" Several years later, the Fitz broke in half and went to the bottom of Lake Superior in one of the most frightening storms ever recorded on the Great Lakes.

So for you new boat owners, don't tempt fate. Get out that notebook and pencil, and let's write us a modern, but classy, christening ceremony .

First of all, make certain that you invite everyone to the christening who is important to the boat . That should include your kids, the family pet, gramma and grampa, and if you think you can con Uncle Harry into buying some bait once in a while, invite him, too. Distribute plastic champagne glasses to all the attendees. If you give them glass glasses, somebody is bound to drop one, and then you have to interrupt the ceremony to sweep it up. It's not good to interrupt the ceremony .

Someone with a strong voice, preferably who can impersonate Richard Burton, begins by saying:

"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 (the name of your boat )." Then everybody raises their plastic glass filled with champagne or your favorite non-alcoholic beverage and shouts, "TO THE SAILORS OF OLD…TO (the name of your boat )." Everybody takes a sip.

Lord Burton continues. "The moods of the sea are many, from tranquil to violent. We ask that this ship be given the strength to carry on. The keel is strong and she keeps out the pressures of the sea." Again the glasses are raised, and the assemblage shouts, "TO THE SEA...TO THE SAILORS OF OLD...TO THE SEA!" Everybody takes another sip.

Continue. "Today we come to name this lady (name of your boat ), and send her to sea to be cared for, and to care for the (name of your family) family. We ask the sailors of old and the mood of God that is the sea to accept (your boat 's name) as her name, to help her through her passages, and allow her to return with her crew safely. " Again, with the raising of the glasses, "TO THE SEA...TO THE SAILORS BEFORE US...TO (the name of your boat )." A last, long sip by all.

Now pour champagne over the bow to appease King Neptune, and lay a branch of green leaves on the deck to ensure safe returns. (Breaking the bottle across her prow is optional for a recreational vessel, and should be done only if all safety precautions have been taken, and after the bottle has been properly scored for a clean break.


And the list goes on.......