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The trouble with renaming your boat

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This is part one of a two part tale.

For part 2: How to rename your boat & satisfy the sea gods Directions for a boat name exorcism!

The Renaming of Sampatecho II

During the fifty-odd years I’ve been sailing, in everything from Nut-shells and Optis to day-sailors,  racers, pocket cruisers and eventually on to passage-making cruisers, I have discovered that the most difficult part of each purchase (often even more so than payment) is the naming of the vessel.  I’m speaking here of used vessels.  I’ve never been able to buy one off-the-shelf.  Those people have it much easier in this respect.  There are those who claim that once named, a boat’s moniker should be left alone by subsequent owners, regardless of how meaningless or ridiculous that name might be.  A name like “Wet Dream” might be cute for a teenager, it is hardly appropriate for just about anyone else.  “Goodie-two Shoes and the Dirty Rotten Scoundrel” is a great name but does not lend itself to radio communications.  No, I firmly believe that a boat’s name should reflect the owner, the vessel and the activities for which it is intended.  It can be serious (Odyssey) or whimsical (Great Catsby), generic (Wings) or personal (Our Way), but it should be carefully selected for that specific boat with those owners at that particular point in time.  Years ago, I made the mistake of throwing the “boat-name” process open to friends at a party where alcohol was served (in abundance).  At the end of the night, a vote was held on all submitted names with the winner being “Follow That Camel” in honor of a 1950’s Abbott & Costello movie.  It turned out to be a pretty good name as the boat grew into it but that’s another story.  Suffice it to say that this may be a risky proposition.

"I firmly believe that a boat’s name should reflect the owner, the vessel and the activities for which it is intended"

This tale begins after 15 years of cruising aboard our Beneteau 390, “Sampatecho”.  While the Spanish “sympatico” translates loosely to something in harmony with its environment, Samuel, Patrick and Echo are the names of our 3 kids so it fits! Sampatecho had been “home” for all of us as they grew up and when they had all gone off to university, it became Maeve’s & my full-time cruiser for five years of  exploring the Great Lakes and east coast from Nova Scotia to Cuba.  She was “home”.  But we had agreed to re-evaluate our cruising life-style at the end of five years and having decided to continue, we also concluded that a larger boat would provide space for the kids to visit with their partners as well as give us a more stable platform for sojourns father afield, South through the Caribbean, North to Newfoundland and maybe even across the Atlantic.  We were fortunate to find a slightly larger Beneteau 440 which we could almost afford, installed all the cruising equipment that we couldn’t afford but had to have anyway then after almost a year of re-fitting, we were ready to go except for one thing – the name. The existing French name for Moon & Sun, Lune et Soleil, was interpreted by bridge operators as “Loonie Sleigh” and had no meaning for us whatsoever so we began looking for a new name but we kept coming back to our old name of Sampatecho.  The kids had, after all, been generous enough to give us our freedom and it would still be their home as often as they were able to join us.  So, Sampatecho II it would be.  Now for the hard part.

sampatecho 2

Changing the name legally is pretty straight-forward.  She would be “documented” in Canada, so it’s just a matter of measuring inside, outside, up, down and across, filling out some forms then sending away a small stack of bills – no sweat! 

The hard part is registering (and deregistering) in Neptune’s “Book of  Names”! Neptune, Roman God of the Sea and his Greek cousin Poseidon, I’m told, keep a list of all vessels afloat in a massive Book of Names.  Changing a name without the gods’ permission really ticks them off and results of a lifetime of problems, glitches and equipment failures which can even send your new boat down to Davie Jones (a relatively new keeper of the bottom of the sea). 

And that’s not all!  The old name must be removed and your new name instated with the 4 gods of the winds.  Yikes!!  None of this is easy since the gods are not to be found through the post office, in the yellow pages or even on Google.  Fortunately, they can be summoned up from the bowels of ancient mythology through what we will hereafter call a “MARINE EXORCISM”.  Honest, I’m not making this up!!  I saw it on the internet!!

Descriptions of the required ceremony vary widely so I have compiled the common threads with enough extras to be sure it will all work and you won’t have to do it again, because it IS COSTLY!

story superstition

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