Don’t tempt the gods

So you grab the grinder, and before long Foxy Lady has been expunged. It’s no longer a part of your boat. A painter comes down and soon Big Gun is emblazoned in large red letters on the boat’s stern and bow. Two days later you steam out of port, make your first tow, haul back and the net’s all torn up from bottom you’ve never been hung-up on before. Twice more you rip up the net on that trip, and when you unload six days later, the catch is half what is usually is.

A case of bad luck? Not exactly. Carelessness and ignorance are more likely culprits. Everyone should know boat names are all recorded in the Ledger of the Deep, known only to Neptune or Poseidon. To try to confuse or anger them only means trouble. If you want to change the name of your boat you must first remove anything and everything with the old name on it — charts, logbooks, life rings, everything. Painting out or whiting over the old name is not enough. It must be taken from the boat. Only then is the old name struck from that ledger.

And don’t paint the new name on the boat until you can have an official denaming ceremony. This what the owners of the 164-foot Dona Martita did when the boat’s name changed to Bering Defender at Pattie Marine Enterprises in Pensacola, Fla. The yard basically rebuilt the boat for the Bering Sea pollock fishery.

For the name change “Vigor’s Interdenominational Boat Denaming Ceremony”* was used. For those of you who don’t wish to suffer the fate of Big Gun, here is the 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 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.”

Now pop the cork and spray the contents of the bottle on the bow. Don’t keep any for yourself. You need your own bottle. You can now rename the boat using the normal christening ceremony. However, the owners of the Bering Defender waited a few days to allow the old spirits ample time for departure. That was undoubtedly a wise move.

*Find a copy of the ceremony here.

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