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

Sunday 6 July 2014

El Nino 2014 Extreme Conditions NOAA Notification for Cruising Sailors

This report has just been released from the NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) concerning the current El Nino cycle event is having on water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific ocean:

 Water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean rose drastically last week, prompting expectations of an upward warming trend that would confirm the development of El Nino. 

Sea surface temperature (STT) anomalies in the Nino 3.4 region (see image below) showed the highest value of the year at +0.9ºC on June 20, according to data from NOAA seen by Undercurrent News. 

This is important to define the event as El Nino since scientists classify the intensity of the weather phenomenon based on STT anomalies exceeding a pre-selected threshold in a certain region of the equatorial Pacific. 

Warm water incursion east to west
The most commonly used region is the Nino 3.4, and the most commonly used threshold is a positive STT departure from normal, greater than, or equal to +0.5°C. 

Thus, NOAA defines El Nino as five consecutive overlapping 3-month periods at or above the +0.5°C anomaly in the Niño 3.4 region. 

The growth of temperature anomalies from +0.4°C in mid-April to +0.9°C now has encouraged projections of an upward warming trend confirming the development of El Nino. 

'This is a big jump in temperature, from now on waters will hardly be cooled, the event is irreversible,' oceanic scientist Luis Icochea told Undercurrent. 

Icochea, who in April said that abnormally high temperatures were reminiscent of 1997-98 – when took place one of the strongest El Nino’s ever – is confident El Nino will develop this year. 
Note the cooler water to the east in normal years

'Everything suggests El Nino will be very strong, without ruling out the possibility of an extraordinary event,' Icochea said. 

Abnormalities of sea surface temperature in Peru have been noticed already in May, as anchovy has moved to the south, near the shore, where industrial fleet is not allowed to operate. 

In the north-center area — with a first anchovy season’s TAC of 2.53 millon metric tons — industrial fleet is seen poor catches so far. 

By June 11, industry players said only 36% of the anchovy’s total allowable catch had been caught. 

'Fishmeal players in Peru will be the most harmed by El Nino, as anchovy is the resource most affected by the weather event,' Icochea said. 

To avoid the increased temperatures, pelagic fish such as anchovy will have to move to cooler, deeper waters where feed is available and there are suitable oceanographic conditions. 

On the other hand, the phenomenon could mean higher catches of other species for human consumption such as hake — which is showing already a biomass improvement — tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish or shark, Icochea said.

by Alicia Villegas

Report and images courtesy NOAA and Alicia Villegas

I sailed from Panama to the Galapagos Islands and on to The Marquesas Group in September 1997, the last time the currents were exceptionally warm and as illustrated in the lower chart.

In the upper image white area you can see a black dot. That is the Galapagos Islands which are smack in the centre of the warm waters. The Marquesas Group is 3200 nautical miles to the west but only seven degrees south, so you can see how El Nino affects the sea temperatures more than half way across the Pacific.

We experienced the South East Trades a few points further to the south than normal which gave us quite lumpy cross seas for the 3200 nautical mile passage to the Marquesas. This was offset by the wind being steady and no squalls, so we averaged 7 - 9 knots, reeling off 180 nautical miles per day and making landfall at Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva eighteen days out of Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.

The most notable events or lack of was the almost total absence of bird and sea life. Not one whale was spotted, very few dolphins and from memory we caught only three fish ( Tuna or Mahi Mahi ) for our dinner. Under normal conditions one of these species would jump onto our trailing lures most evenings.

This phenomena we put down to the El Nino conditions prevailing that year, the fish perhaps moving off to cooler waters, taking the bird life with them.

Cruisers contemplating this passage in 2014 should make note of the conditions they are likely to encounter enroute. Good luck, fair winds and kindly seas.

You can read much more about the cruising lifestyle on passage in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website