Jackie Parry – author

Boat Naming Ceremony

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What’s Your Name?

The onerous task (for the second time) of renaming our boat rapidly resembled a ‘Carry On’ movie of the Parry kind. Our ingenious juices seem to simply dry up with this creative requirement, particularly when we are now comfortable with the current name. When voyaging internationally, recreational (and commercial) vessels must hold Australian Registration. You cannot have two boats with the same name registered in Australia.

With time on our minds more than credentials we raced through the required paperwork and selected a first, second and third choice name. If your first selection is already occupied by a vessel, they try the next and so on. This happened with our previous boat, Mariah. We ingeniously named her Mariah II. Later we thought Mariah Too would have been trendy. As you can see our creativity holds no bounds.

Registering Pyewacket III, we chose simply Pyewacket as our favourite. Then, because of the delays with cancelling the American Registration, rushing and leaving our brains in bed that morning, our second choice was Pyewacket Two. Of course the registration office confirmed that our preferred name was already taken but Pyewacket Two was okay.

This created an odd boat shuffle on board that consisted of a minefield of meaningful glances and side stepping culpability. Hastily we amended the paperwork to Pyewacket II, which again, is completely ridiculous, as the bronze plaque on board the boat, stating her launch date and location, reads Pyewacket III (her American Registration which we cancelled). For us this became the most complex part of the registration process. Apart from identification detours and naming nuances, registering your vessel is really quite simple, provided you have a tape measure and a pen. The boat’s history is required and/or the boat builder’s information.

We have grown to like the name Pyewacket, which has several connotations; the preferred is “a supernatural entity that aids magic”. If I ever had to rename a boat, I would call it Rouge Corsair. In another life I had an extraordinary horse called Rouge Corsair, who gifted me endless unique memories and I think Red Pirate is a neat name for a boat.

Noel commented that we should have come up with a whole new name. But what? Rouge Corsair does not suit; maybe some red would have helped. Coward as I am, the fact that there is a name changing ceremony that absolutely must be adhered to, put me off. The champagne part would be fine, but the possibility of upsetting Neptune (it’d only be cheap champers) and thereby facing his wrath, makes me shudder. There are enough “unknowns” on the deep blue, why create more? Besides Pyewacket is Pyewacket, if you see what I mean. We enjoy the quirkiness of being called “The Wackets”, and that in itself is a funny thing. Being those who lack a memory (great for reading the same books and watching the same movies), we remember people we have met on the water by their boat names. “The Frodos” were on a boat called Frodo. Now they are on land with twin girls and have sold Frodo. We still call them “The Frodo’s” and “mini Frodos” too.  It might sound odd to some when we say something like, “where’s My Chance now?” but we understand that we are discussing our great friends Alim and Kian.

This led me to wonder how people name their boats. Most people I know have a boat already with name. I also started to ponder if there were differences in names each side of the Pacific Ocean. Sitting in the anchorage at San Diego Harbour, I can see two boats named Mariah also a Spellbinder and Sirocco, nothing unusual there. But swinging the other way, I now see Cream Puff, Sea Coffin and WindStorm. Why you would desire Coffin or Storm in a name baffles me, each to their own I guess. A friend in NSW has just launched his boat after many years of fitting out. He chose Rock ‘n’ Roll and was surprised to find no one else had already claimed that name on the Australian Registry. Maybe they have, they are just state registered and not Australian Registered.

Australian Registration is only required for vessels going overseas and commercial vessels (see full requirements and costing details on AMSA’s website http://www.amsa.gov.au). The cost for registering Pyewacket II  was $799, plus courier costs for the to-ing and fro-ing of paperwork. AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) have all the information required on their website. The administrators that process the paperwork are extremely helpful and accommodating.

Thankfully we avoided the performance of a boat baptism, but just what does it involve? Here’s a tongue in cheek peek.

What do you do if you find your boat moniker embarrassing, but cower at the possibility of fuelling Neptune’s wrath? Well, you simply gather together the gods, seize upon superstition and have a celebration.

There are several different ceremonies to manage a new moniker. Simplicity is the key. First off, remove any and all trace of the name you are disregarding. If you are unfortunate enough to have the name beautifully carved into a beam either find high grade sandpaper, elbow grease and epoxy, or settle for the name.

In water soluble ink, pen the old name on a piece of metal. Call up Neptune and all and any gods pertaining to safe sailing. Honour, revere and then beseech, implore and quite simply beg them to erase the former name from their hearts and any filing system they may keep.

Environmentally clean the name off the metal in the sea and tender champagne to the deities and crew (and you).

Commence celebrations with the new name. Pour the champers over the bow, take a huge swig and say a prayer. Plead for protection, pour more champers east to west, north to south, and fling bubbly over your shoulder, in the direction the boat is facing and take another good mouthful. In summary, grovel, drink and pour.

Once you have abandoned all your decency, made a mess and are totally intoxicated you can then load on all the items bearing the new name (remember safety first). If engraving the new name, maybe have several cups of strong coffee first or find a good friend with a steady hand to help.

Cautionary note. This is a slightly quirky perspective to the serious, official ceremony that must take place to appease the gods. As there are so many options, take time to research a ritual that best suits you and your boat. In those dark nights, plunging into the abyss, you may rest a little more assured and help maintain the harmony between mortals and immortals.


Author: jackieandnoel

Author and Traveller

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