What’s in a name?

Taking a break from mast building, I returned home for Christmas with a few boating chores to accomplish. One of them, which had been nagging at me was to pick a name for my boat.

Now, there are many legends out there regarding what makes a ship unlucky. Some dockside superstitions I have heard over the years are:

  • Black travel bags are bad luck
  • Don’t allow people with red hair aboard your ship
  • A silver coin placed under the masthead will ensure a safe voyage
  • Pouring wine on the deck will bring a voyage good luck
  • Women aboard a ship make the sea angry
  • Black Cats are good luck for sailors

While not normally superstitious, having my first day of sailing end with a broken mast made me reconsider my stance. I’ve been contemplating dying my red hair and ditching my black backpack. Spilling a little wine, well twist my arm if you must (white wine, of course). Between my landlord’s annoying black cat and an old silver dollar in my desk, I am pretty well covered. Telling my girlfriend she is unlucky aboard however…let’s just say, I’d rather take my chances with Poseiden’s wrath.

Perhaps the most egregious rule is that a boat that is renamed is the unluckiest. It is said that every ship is recorded by its name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Poseidon.

Several articles online (the most trusted source for maritime traditions) state that you should purge your vessel from all traces of the old name. Thinking about my empty boat with no name on the hull, I had nailed step one. This may be easier than I thought.

The next step is to state the following aboard with a bottle of bubbly in hand.

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name (here insert the old name of your vessel) which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea.In grateful acknowledgment of your munificence and dispensation, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court. (Pour at least half of the bottle of Champagne into the sea from East to West. The remainder may be passed among your guests.)”

That all sounded like a good time, except for one small dilemma, I had no idea what to name the boat. To make matters worse, I had yet to register the boat because you need a name to do that. I have walked enough docks to know that there were names I really like and names that are just plain bad. Certainly naming your boat Aqua-holic or Miss Behavin’ would piss off Posedon more than a nameless boat, right?

I knew my name couldn’t be a play off the word Sea, Miss or anything other common variation. When she is fully restored she would be a one of a kind, and I needed a name that reflected that.  One name that was suggested to me was Rough Draft (Ahhh, now the blog title makes sense, huh?). Reflecting both my passion for writing and the tough shape my new vessel was in, it seemed perfect.

After much (and I mean a ton) of internal debate, I decided to name the boat after my girlfriend. Sweating and still unsure, I jotted down the Karen Marie on the dotted line of the registration form. Handing the form to the clerk at the Department of Environmental Management, we engaged in a cartoon-like tug of war over the form.

Finally the, surprisingly strong, clerk snatched the form and sent me on my way. I could hear my friends giving me a hard time in my head the whole car ride home.

Just as I had feared, family members and friends alike gave me a heaping dose of ribbing for my name choice. I endured a barrage of sarcastic awwws and that’s sooooo cute over beers that weekend.

On Christmas I gave a framed photoshopped image Karen’s name written across the back of the boat. (It was a big hit) That night one of my her uncles capitalized on the opportunity.

“So you go out and buy a boat, name it after Karen and give that as a gift?! Well next Christmas I’m going to go out and get myself a new couch and name it Mary Ellen!” The jokes continued into the night.

I joke that I named the boat after Karen because they both are a drain on my billfold, are a lot of work and I can’t seem to figure either of them out.

But joking aside, the name fits because they are both one of a kind, have a special place in my heart and what’s an adventure without the company of loving woman?

Your move Poseidon.

Stay tuned for my next blog about: Something extra manly and tough.

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