Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tails it is . . . .

Here's how to name a boat:

Step 1:  Sell your house.  Everyone (and by everyone I mean Damon and I) knows it's a PITA to take care of both a house and a boat.

Step 2:  Buy a tiny, cute condo.

Step 3:  Ignore the fact that you still have to move all your stuff out of storage and into the condo. Instead, go boat shopping.  Pick about a dozen boats that look likely and start calling brokers and private sellers.

Step 4:  Find a boat.  Make sure it's not too big, or too small, or too expensive, or in too bad a condition.  Find one that's just right, like this one:

Step 5:  Call a marine documentation company who will change the Coast Guard documentation from the old owner to the new (that's you).  Have a small epileptic fit when they ask what the new name of the boat will be.  Tell them you haven't yet made that decision, cripes, deciding to buy the boat was hard enough.

Step 6:  Get out a sheet of paper, a pen, and a few bottles of wine.  Start generating ideas for a name. Do not drink the wine too fast or you will end up with a bad name, such as "Seas the Day" or "Black Pearl".  Apparently this happens because there are 177 "Seas the Day"s and 175 "Black Pearl"s in the Coast Guard Registry, and that's only for big boats.  Imagine all the little flats boats and day sailors out there sporting such names.  I kid you not.  And NO use of the term "knot" in the name.  Waaaay too corny.  If there must be a pun, please, make it clever.  (Apologies if your boat has one of these names, but you really should have read this before diving in!)

Step 7:  Do not try to google "good boat names".  Here are the top 10 boat names from 2014, which will tell you most boat names are not good:

1. Serenity
2. Second Wind
3. Island Girl
4. Freedom
5. Pura Vida
6. Andiamo
7. Island Time
8. Irish Wake
9. Happy Hours
10. Seas the Day (there it is again)

Clearly the internet is no help whatsoever.

Step 8:  Once you have about 20 names, start to look at each carefully.  Make sure they don't sound like something they're not.  Like "petrel", which was a candidate on our list.  A petrel is an elegant little seabird (probably the most common in the world) that happens to nest on Kent Island, so we have a soft spot for them.  But "petrel" sounds an awful lot like "petrol", which is what many people in the nether regions of the world call gasoline.  Cross that one off the list.  Then make sure they pass the radio test.  When hailing a boat over the radio, the convention is to say their name three times, then say yours.  As in "Seas the Day, Seas the Day, Seas the Day, this is Black Pearl on channel 16". Whatever name you choose should be easy to say and easy to understand.  No tongue twisters are allowed.  Like Toy Boat.  Try saying that three times.

Step 9:  Cross off any names either of you hates.  Be nice though.

Step 10:  Each of you choose your top five.  Don't show each other what you chose until you are both done.  Eliminate any not on both your lists.

Step 11:  At this point, person one (Janet) should say "I like any of those, you choose." Person two, Damon, should respond "No, I like all of them.  You choose." Refuse to take responsibility.

Step 12:  Refill wine glasses, it's gonna be a long night.

At this point in the game, Damon and I had the list down to two candidates; Phalarope and Mercator. A Phalarope is a dainty little shore bird with a wicked cool name, and Mercator was a mathematician from the 16th century who invented a way to draw charts that allowed sailors to steer a compass course (as in, for centuries he's been safely guiding sailors between safe harbors, pretty cool).  There was much hemming and hawing.

Step 13:  At the last moment, have a flash of inspiration and add a write-in candidate.  This is what Damon did -- he threw in a zinger at the end;  Fulmar.  A fulmar is closely related to petrels (and shearwaters, another possible name we crossed off the list).  As one of Damon's friends says, "they are the sexy birds" (ignoring the vomit part of their biology).

We decided we liked Fulmar better than Phalarope.  But Fulmar and Mercator were still in a dead heat.  It was time to bring out the big guns:

Step 14:  Flip a coin.

"Your call," Damon said, his eyes blazing at me over the quarter in his outstretched hand.

"Okay.  Heads, Mercator, since he had a head.  Tails, Fulmar, they have tails."  

"Here goes . . . tails it is.  Fulmar."

And that's how you name a boat.

(It's a well-known fact that it's bad luck to rename a boat, unless there is a boat renaming ceremony. This involves making offerings of rum to Neptune, and some level of imbibing said rum.  Count me in.)

In case you're wondering:

Fulmar, as she will be known, is a 1982 Pacific Seacraft Crealock 37.  We have a survey scheduled for next Tuesday, and if all goes well, will take possession of her in the near future.  Fair winds!


  1. love it...with a how-to-do-it list like that how can one go wrong? Unless one runs out of wine...

    1. The wine also might make evaluating names difficult! We're lucky we didn't come up with "poop deck" or something.