boat renaming ceremony

Renaming A Boat
July 14, 2015 By Mike Dickens Leave a Comment

Renaming A Boat

I’ve had a number of new owners choose their boats and never think about her new name until it was time to complete the documentation paperwork; renaming a boat was never considered. I offer some guidance on how to avoid the curse of Neptune. After all, we can’t take any chances; renaming a boat is critical. Some people think renaming a boat isn’t necessary but we feel renaming a boat is very important.

I used the following article’s guidance when renaming a boat, Patricia Ann and thought, if it worked for me, it will work for others.

I was very theatrical standing on her bow, having gathered a large crowd for the event for officially renaming a boat. It was a hoot!

Superstition got you down? John Vigor offers tips for renaming your boat and keeping it lucky.

By John Vigor

Motor Yachts for Sale

I once knew a man in Florida who told me he’d owned 24 different yachts and renamed every single one of them. “Did it bring you bad luck?” I asked. “Not that I’m aware of,” he said. “You don’t believe in those old superstitions, do you?” Well, yes. Matter of fact, I do. And I’m not alone.

Actually, it’s not so much being superstitious as being v-e-r-y careful. It’s an essential part of good seamanship. Some years ago, when I wanted to change the name of my newly purchased 31-foot sloop from Our Way to Freelance, I searched for a formal “denaming ceremony” to wipe the slate clean in preparation for the renaming. I read all the books, but I couldn’t find one.

What I did learn, though, was that such a ceremony (of renaming a boat) should consist of five parts:

an invocation,
an expression of gratitude,
a supplication,
a re-dedication,
and a libation.
So I wrote my own short ceremony: Vigor’s inter-denominational denaming ceremony. It worked perfectly.

I’ll give you the exact wording of Vigor’s denaming ceremony, but first

you must remove all physical traces of the boat’s old name before renaming a boat. Take the old log book ashore, along with any other papers that bear the old name. Check for offending books and charts with the name inscribed. Be ruthless. Sand away the old name from the lifebuoys, transom, topsides, dinghy, and oars. Yes, sand it away. Painting over is not good enough for renaming a boat. You’re dealing with gods here, you understand, not mere dumb mortals. If the old name is carved or etched, try to remove it or, at the very minimum, fill it with putty and then paint it over.
And don’t place the new name anywhere on the boat before the denaming ceremony is carried out; renaming a boat requires precise actions . That’s just tempting fate.
How you conduct the ceremony depends entirely on you. If you’re the theatrical type, and enjoy appearing in public in your yacht club 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. The words must be spoken.

There are two things to watch out for here. Don’t use cheap-cheap champagne, and don’t try to keep any for yourself. Buy a second bottle if you want some.
Use a brew that’s reasonably expensive, based on your ability to pay, and pour the whole lot on the boat. One of the things the gods of the sea despise most is meanness, so don’t try to do this bit on the cheap.
What sort of time period should elapse between this denaming ceremony and a new naming ceremony? There’s no fixed time. You can do the renaming right after the denaming, if you want, but I personally would prefer to wait at least 24 hours to give any lingering demons a chance to clear out. Afterwards you can pop the cork, shake the bottle and spray the whole of the contents on the bow.
When that’s done, you can quietly go below and enjoy the other bottle yourself.

Vigor’s Denaming Ceremony

In the name of all who have sailed aboard this ship in the past, and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient gods of the wind and the sea to favor us with their blessing today. “Mighty Neptune, king of all that moves in or on the waves; and mighty Aeolus (pronounced EE-oh-lus), guardian of the winds and all that blows before them: “We offer you our thanks for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past. We voice our gratitude that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and enjoyed safe passage to port. “Now, wherefore, we submit this supplication, that the name whereby this vessel has hitherto been known _____, be struck and removed from your records. “Further, we ask that when she is again presented for blessing with another name, she shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the selfsame privileges she previously enjoyed.” In return for which, we rededicate this vessel to your domain in full knowledge that she shall be subject as always to the immutable laws of the gods of the wind and the sea. “In consequence whereof, and in good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea.”

Christening Ceremony

After a boat is denamed, you simply need to rename it using the traditional christening ceremony, preferably with Queen Elizabeth breaking a bottle of champagne on the bow, and saying the words:

“I name this ship ___________, and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her.”

This article was taken from Good Old Boat Magazine, Volume 2, Number 4, July/August 1999 and