Re-Naming Ceremony

When we took on the stewardship of our friendship sloop she had a name that was the same as the sister ship she had been copied from. This was confusing; also, the boat’s name had no meaning for us, nor did we know where she got it. Additionally the boat had fallen on some hard times and had been, to a certain extent, neglected. While warned that changing her name could be unlucky, we still felt that a change was needed to turn her luck around and to link our families to the boat.
         I tried to find some sort of official name changing ceremony that we could follow, but never found anything specific. I did get some good advice from other boat owners who had been though this and I thought I would pass along those gems:
         First, when you invite people to join you for this event, don’t call it a name changing, call it something else, a re-christening, or a restoration party, a re-launching party, or something else.
         Second, emphasize fun. While it is not absolutely necessary to have someone dress up as Neptune, mop-head for hair, crown and trident: it is amusing and people do expect something like this.
         Third, have the party with the boat out of the water on stands. This will allow more people to attend and will be a lot safer too.
         Fourth, there should be plenty to drink. One note here: many people feel that there has to be a lot of rum, or some other nautical version of alcoholic “grog”, in my experience wine will do. Further, I happen to have a lot of friends who are not drinkers, in our case this did not seem to have an adverse affect (on either the party or the subsequent six years of cruising).
         Fifth, start the party with a brief (very brief) speech. A simple welcome will do with a thank you for everyone coming out to celebrate the future cruises of the (insert vessel’s new name here).
         Sixth, people will expect some sort of symbolic gestures at such a party, it almost does not matter what they are. Flags are good, and in a pinch, drawing a circle with salt on the ground around the hull of the boat looks good and can’t hurt. A few pieces of evergreen tied to the bow is another symbolic gesture that seems to impress folks.
         Seventh, ask people ahead of time not to use the vessel’s former name at the party and not to discuss the name change. It is a good idea to tell people that it is bad luck to use the vessel’s former name. The truth is you do not want to spend the whole of the party explaining why you chose to change the name, or worse, rationalizing the new name.
         Lastly, this celebration is a chance to project the kind of owner and steward you are going to be to this boat. The goal for the party is the same for the boat, safe, organized, and fun.


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