Friday, 18 July 2014

Sailboat Denaming Ceremony for Cruising Sailors

You have just taken delivery of your new ( to you ) sailboat and you have it in the water in preparation of sailing off over the horizon on your adventure of a lifetime. You still have much work to do before you can set sail, but it is time to carry out a certain ceremony to set things right with the sea gods.

For whatever reason, you have to change the name of your new soon to be home. It could be that the law of that country decrees it ( some nations state the name has to be changed if you are registering her in another country ). It could be a name in a foreign language that means nothing to you ( Carpe Diem, how many boats have we seen with that name?), your partner says it has a silly name, or you could just plain not like it. 

Whatever the reason, the name changing ceremony has to be carried out in the traditional fashion to avoid the ire and fury of the sea gods.

Doing it the right way staves off the possibility of bad luck. Superstition still plays a significant role in boaters’ lives. The sea, hardly changed in all the eons since its creation, is still a source of mystery and wonderment. Half of the Earth’s surface is covered by abyssal seas where light never penetrates, but where life nevertheless exists—sometimes in outlandish forms—in conditions of unimaginable pressure and Stygian darkness.

Little wonder, then, that frail human beings plying the interface between the unruly atmosphere and the fearsome oceans should seek help by performing certain rituals known to their ancestors, and turning to their ancient gods for protection.One superstition still widely held concerns the renaming of a boat, which, in the United States at least, is held to be unlucky. The answer is to hold a denaming ceremony before you rename your boat. You can make up your own ceremony, or you are welcome to use this one, which has been used with every appearance of success. It is now widely distributed on the Internet, but it is repeated here for your convenience.

Before you hold the denaming ceremony, you must remove all physical traces of the boat’s old name. Take the logbook ashore, along with any other charts, books, or papers that bear the old name. Be ruthless: sand away the old name from the lifebuoys, transom, topsides, dinghy, and oars; painting over is not good enough. We’re dealing with gods here, you understand, not mere mortals. If the old name is carved or etched, try to remove it. At the very minimum, fill it with putty and paint over it. And don’t place the new name anywhere on the boat before the denaming ceremony is completed—that’s just tempting fate.
Generous pouring of bubbly
You can read the ceremony with flair on the foredeck before a gathering of distinguished guests or, if you find this whole business embarrassing and go along with it only because you’re scared of what might happen if you don’t, you can skulk down below and mumble it in solitude. But the words must be spoken.The last part of the ceremony, the libation, should be performed at the bow. Use good champagne and spray all of it on the bow—do not presume to save some for yourself.

The gods despise cheapskates: buy another bottle for your own consumption.

Here is Vigor’s Famous Inter-denominational 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 blessings today.“Mighty Neptune, king of all that moves in or on the waves;“And mighty Aeolus, 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 found safe harbor.“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 a new name, she shall be recognized and accorded once again the selfsame privileges she previously enjoyed.“In return for which, we rededicate this vessel to your domain in the 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 libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea.”There. Now you are free to christen your boat with a new name. It doesn’t pay to be too quick, though. Most of us like to wait at least 24 hours to give any lingering demons time to pack their duffel bags and clear out.
How not to do it
All that needs to be said in the new naming ceremony is: 'I name this ship '..........' and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her'. This second ceremony can also be carried out with a liberal pouring of said bubbly over the bow or into the water at the bow, but is not absolutely necessary. One could argue though that a double libation to appease the sea gods would not do any harm?

On completion of this deeply significant ceremony you can happily feel that you, your ship, your crew and the sea gods are all at one and therefore can set off on your voyage full of confidence. 

You can read much more about the cruising lifestyle and life at sea passagemaking, in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website

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