February 10, 2013

How to Rename Your Boat

HAVE YOU NOTICED what silly names other people give their boats? As the buyer of a used boat, it’s only natural that you (a civilized, intelligent, educated person of wit and charm) would want to change the old name to something more suitable.

I mean, it’s such a pity. There’s this gorgeous boat just waiting to be looked after and coddled by someone wise and sensitive like you, and the previous owner named it Phluphphy or Bumphluphph. Or possibly Swashbuckle; Trashcan; Scutt le Butt; Hasta la Pasta; Tuppence Ha’penny  (dinghy : Penny Farthing); Malgré Tout; or  Beauzeaux.

Enough said. You don’t have to convince us that a name change is in order. But you’re scared, right? You’ve heard that it’s unlucky to change a boat’s name. Well, not so. Not if you take precautions.

One of the most popular articles I ever wrote was Vigor’s Interdenominational Denaming Ceremony. It described the steps I took when I wanted to rename a 31-foot sloop I intended to sail from the Indian Ocean to the United States with my wife and 17-year-old son.

The guts of it was a formal little denaming ceremony, a request to the ancient gods of the wind and the sea to erase the boat’s name from their records, and to accord her the same protection she had enjoyed from them before, when she was re-baptized under a new name.

It worked for me, and I’ve had no complaints from the hundreds of people who have used it since.

You will find a free printable copy of the ceremony and full instructions if you click on the “Denaming Ceremony” tab in the list on the right. Alternatively, you can buy the book, How to Rename Your Boat, which has a whole lot of other interesting stuff in it, or you can do an Internet search using the words “denaming ceremony,” which, I should warn you, might bring up some inferior rival ceremonies. And finally, you can get a nice free version by going to and looking in the article archives.

Today’s Thought
Who hath not own’d, with rapture-smitten frame,
The power of grace, the magic of a name ?
— Thomas Campbell, The Pleasures of Hope.

“Did you get those camouflage trousers you wanted?”
“Nah, I couldn't find any.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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