We broke a salty sea-dog rule: we renamed our boat.
According to legend, every vessel is personally known to Neptune the god of the sea, and is recorded by name in the ‘Ledger of the Deep’. So to change the name without first advising Neptune is to invoke his wrath, making him likely to smite you with all sorts of bad weather and luck. The saltiest of sea-dogs will warn you against such folly.
Maritime lore is full of random superstition. No bananas, no women (although that one has conveniently faded away), no redheads, no flatfeet, no whistling, no personal grooming, no bidding farewell, no killing albatross, no leaving port on a Thursday or Friday ….. the list of no-no’s is pretty lengthy, and boat renaming is near the top of the list. [Sarah Steenland summarises these pretty well in her great sailing adventure cartoons that I’ve recently discovered: http://www.sarahsteenland.com/superstitious-in-sumatra]
But luckily, if you really want to rename your vessel (like we did), it is apparently possible to appease Neptune. First up we had to purge the old name.
Armed with hair-dryers and scrapers, we took to the old decal. The stickers came off easily enough, but the glue was a bit more stubborn. Google was full of helpful advice and we discovered that rubbing alcohol does the trick. (A comment on the Hull Truth boating forum advised: “Bad luck and decal adhesive are both soluble in alcohol. Apply liberally.” Good tip.)
Then we needed to conduct a little ceremony. Again more Google advice (this time by John Vigor on Good Old Boat): “How you conduct the ceremony depends entirely on you. If you’re the theatrical type, and enjoy appearing in public in your yachtclub blazer and skipper’s cap, you can read it with flair on the foredeck before a gathering of distinguished guests. But if you find this whole business faintly silly and embarrassing, and only go along with it because you’re scared to death of what might happen if you don’t, you can skulk down below and mumble it on your own. That’s perfectly OK. The main thing is that you carry it out.” (I think I’m more the latter, but agree, why tempt fate?)
Anyway, we opted for a little ceremony so we invited a few family and friends and gathered on the bow while Andrew officiated. It started by asking Neptune to remove the old name from the ledger: “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 Simply 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.” And we chucked a pre-prepared little metal disc displaying the old name overboard and made libations (ie poured champagne). “In grateful acknowledgment of your munificence and dispensation, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court.”
Next was to bring good luck on our new name. “Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel Angel Wing the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs.” Then we toasted each of the wind gods.
“Great Boreas, exalted ruler of the North Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your scalding breath.
Great Zephyrus, exalted ruler of the West Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your wild breath.
Great Eurus, exalted ruler of the East Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your mighty breath.
Great Notus, exalted ruler of the South Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your frigid breath.”
And with that, S/V Angel Wing was commissioned.
We loaded up our boat with as many people as we could fit on the decks (comfortably about 20 at any given time) and celebrated a combined boat-warming and (my) birthday.