Christening

Naming a baby is an act of poetry , for many people the only creative moment in their lives.

Richard Eyre

Thousands and thousands of years ago Poseidon , if you are Greek, or Neptune , if you are Roman , same dude just different languages , began recording ship names in The Ledger of the Deep. The idea is that if a vessel’s name is recorded in the ledger, Poseidon would see to it that the vessel is protected form harm. The new system was announced to mariners via a precursor to the now familiar “notice to mariners” publication. Sailors were quick to adopt the new tradition as it afford an extra layer of protection. Using one’s own wits is always a good idea but who could pass on a little help from the local Greek ( or Roman) god. To be on the list a vessel needs a name and hence the beginning of an old tradition . Name on the ledger and you are good to go. If not , well … then you are on your own. No name, no ledger entry, no protection . Don’t laugh, this is not an old superstition. The US Coast Guard requires a vessel be named before it can be documented, and our insurance company insist that SeaSea’s name be written boldly upon her policy. A coincidence ? I think not! Why? Because the same is not true of automobiles, they just get a license plate, and with all due respect to the auto enthusiast of the world, Neptune just doesn’t give a hoot about automobiles.

Fortunately, the recording fee is reasonable, it is basically the cost of a bottle of Champagne which is paid at the time the vessel’s official naming ceremony. Typically a few words are said, a blessing recited, Poseidon mentioned , the words, “I christen thee Enter Boat Name Here*” are spoken , a bottle of Champagne is smashed against the bow, Champagne spills into the sea, Neptune’s fee is paid, and finally the vessel name is entered into the ledger. In these modern days of fiberglass and gelcoat it is now acceptable to pour Champagne over the bow and then from East to West into the Sea instead of the smashing thing . Pouring may be a bit lame but Neptune doesn’t like chipped gelcoat. It’s my personal opinion, but not officially required, that the pouring or smashing of Champagne should be over both bows of a catamaran. If only one bow gets christened , it is easy to imagine that some clerical error will occur and only half the boat will be protected. Over the many thousands of years that the ledger has been maintained, you know this has happened at least once. Just imagine the headache of converting from sea scroll to digital, mistakes are bound to occur even if you happen to be an ancient god. Of course all three bows of a Trimaran should be doused and yes the ceremony gets a little lengthy and a tad more expensive.

Following the Champagne smashing, the owners and guests traditionally drink a toast to the new vessel. This too is not required and has more to do with the participants wanting an excuse to drink than the idea of Poseidon not wanting to drink alone. It is, however, required that a branch of green leaves be aboard the boat when the fancy words are spoken, the Champagne is spilled and maiden voyage is sailed. That branch is very important and whole point of the featured image above. It is acceptable that it became a little ragged by the end of the maiden voyage. What matters is that it remained in place for the duration of the voyage and that it symbolizes a safe return to port. Anyone who sails aboard SeaSea can rest assured that they are perfectly safe because all dues have been paid, traditions followed and her name properly entered by Poseidon himself in the Ledger of the Deep. For non-believers who think this is all a bunch of hooey , I’ll remind you that the Titanic was never christened and that during prohibition the USS Arizona was christened with water. Water is of course not an accepted currency for this particular transaction and is the reason why I’d be super skeptical about using “Champagne” from West Marine to christen a boat. Word has it those bottles are filled with seltzer water.

*It would be great fun to see what the Coast Guard and insurance company would have to say to a captain who wants name their vessel literally ‘ENTER BOAT NAME HERE’

Published by billtan

Striving to be a better boat .

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