Boating can be a dangerous activity depending on aspects such as weather and wind. Due to these dangers, sailors and fisherman have long been quite superstitious routinely practicing and respecting superstitions that revolve around safety and luck. One of those superstitions is renaming a boat.
Historically it’s been considered bad luck to change the name of a boat. However, if you absolutely must change the name of a boat, a purging and renaming ceremony must be completed before the name is revealed or anything with the new name enters the boat.
According to legend, every boat has its name recorded in the Ledger of the Deep. Further, the name of each vessel is personally known by Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, or Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. So in order to change the name of the boat, you must remove the name from the Ledger of the Deep or from the memory of Poseidon or Neptune.
Removing All Traces of the Name
Before the purging ceremony can take place, the owner must cleanse the boat of its former name. All traces of the boat’s former name must be removed from the boat. This includes any log books, engine and maintenance records, or the like that might have the boat’s old name written on it.
Once the name has been completely removed from the boat, it’s time for the purging ceremony to take place. The first part of the ceremony is preparation. The old name of the boat must be written on a metal tag in water-soluble ink. Two bottles of champagne are also needed for the ceremony.
With the metal tag and champagne bottle close by, the following must be recited.
“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 (old name) 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.”
The metal tag that has the boat’s old name written on it is then dropped into the water from the bow of the boat and the following is recited.
“In grateful acknowledgement of your munificence and dispensation, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court.”
At this point, the first bottle of champagne is used. At least half of the bottle should be poured into the water from east to west. The remaining champagne can be passed around and consumed by the guests at the ceremony.
Once the purging ceremony is finished, it’s time for the renaming ceremony. An important aspect is that the renaming ceremony must be done after the purging ceremony. While it can be done any time after the purging ceremony, it’s recommended that it be done immediately after.
The first step of the renaming ceremony is to, again, call on the gods of the sea.
“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 take upon your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time known as (new name), guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm.”
“In appreciation of your munificence, dispensation, and in honor of your greatness, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court.”
At this point in the ceremony, it’s time to offer the Champagne to the gods of the sea once again. To do this, a bottle of Champagne is poured into the sea from west to east. One glass is offered for the master while a second glass is offered for the mate.
With the gods of the sea appeased, it’s time to honor the gods of the wind. There are four gods of the wind which guide each direction of north, south, east, and west. Because the four gods are all brothers, they can be invoked simultaneously but they must also be addressed individually.
“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 (new name) the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs.”
The first individual to be address is Boreas, the god of north wind. Facing north, Champagne should be poured into a champagne flute and thrown north as the following is recited.
“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 frigid breath.”
The next god to address is Zephyrus, the god of the west wind. The same process is executed except to the west with the following recited.
“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.”
The third god to be addressed is Eurus, the ruler of the east wind. Again, the same process is executed but to the east with the following being recited.
“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.”
Finally, Notus, the god of the south wind is addressed. Once again, the same process is executed and the following recited.
“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 scalding breath.”
Once the renaming ceremony has finished, the boat is safe to be renamed and any objects with the new name may be brought onto the boat. Typically, the name won’t be written on the boat until after the ceremony has taken place but if it must be done prior to the ceremony, it’s acceptable to do so as long as the name is covered by bunting or some other material so it’s not revealed until after the ceremony.
Since they often go out on treacherous waters, sailors and fisherman are very superstitious. One of the most famous superstitions is the process of renaming a boat. In order to rename a boat without angering the gods of the sea and wind, a purging and renaming ceremony must take place. If you want a boat to take out on the Indian River Lagoon but aren’t looking to buy, consider 321 Boat Club.