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Appellation Controlee

A rose is a rose, it is said, and smells just as sweet by any other name. Would that it were true of boats. In fact, it seems many boats these days have perfectly horrible names. Glancing around at transoms in marinas and mooring fields, I must blush and/or wince at half the names I see. I realize this is a subjective topic and that one mariner’s bon mot is another’s bad word.



A rose is a rose, it is said, and smells just as sweet by any other name. Would that it were true of boats. In fact, it seems many boats these days have perfectly horrible names. Glancing around at transoms in marinas and mooring fields, I must blush and/or wince at half the names I see.

I realize this is a subjective topic and that one mariner’s bon mot is another’s bad joke. But based on my own observations, I’d say many of you boatowners out there have created very dangerous situations with your boat names, wherein your boat’s self esteem may be so threatened it might at any moment, out of sheer embarrassment, cease to be a boat. Needless to say, there could be grave consequences if you and your family happen to be on board when this occurs.

Those who must immediately change their boat’s name (they should know who they are by the end of this post) may complain that to do so will bring bad luck. Certainly there are various deities who take great offense when a boat’s name is changed improperly, but these same deities will also cause trouble if a boat’s name is just plain silly to begin with. By taking appropriate measures, however, the un-naming and re-naming of a poorly named boat can be performed quite safely and should greatly improve performance.

How to Un-Name Your Boat

The following is an ecumenical un-naming procedure that encompasses the tenants of all relevant religions and belief systems and is guaranteed to be 100 percent effective. It should not, however, be used on anything other than a boat.

First, walk (or swim) around your boat three times in a counter-clockwise direction (or clockwise, if you are in the southern hemisphere). Next take one red human hair, which must be exactly six inches long and must be from a genuine redhead, wrap it around a rabbit’s foot three times in a clockwise direction (or counter-clockwise, if you are in the southern hemisphere), then soak the rabbit’s foot liberally in rum. It should not be cheap rum, but the most expensive you can reasonably afford. Rub the rum-soaked rabbit’s foot vigorously over your boat’s existing name, then drink the rest of the rum. Throw the rabbit’s foot over your left shoulder into the sea.

Next remove all traces of the boat’s existing name. It is not enough merely to paint over the old name; it must be obliterated entirely. This means getting out the sand-blaster, the grinder, the heat-gun, whatever it takes to physically erase the monstrosity from your transom.

You must also remove the old name from any ancillary equipment or documents, or, if this is not possible, said equipment and documents should be destroyed by fire. This is especially important, so be careful you don’t overlook anything.

Once you have finished un-naming your boat, you must never again mention the old name. To re-name your boat, simply follow all the usual procedures. Smash a bottle of champagne on her bow and utter some appropriate christening-type words, then distribute more champagne and other inebriants to whoever happens to be around. Sailors, of course, must to be sure replace the coin under the mast with a new one in order for the new name to take.

If this sounds drab, you might try a Viking christening. Evidently they believed that for a ship to have good luck its keel must taste the blood of a virgin prior to touching water. To make sure things went smoothly, they lashed virgin slaves (both male and female) to the keel blocks they used in launching a ship. As it slid into the water, the ship neatly crushed the bodies of the slaves and so bloodied its keel and theoretically lived happily ever after. This procedure unfortunately is now illegal in many jurisdictions, so be sure to consult an attorney before performing it.

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