The official papers from the Canadian government registering our new sailboat in the name of Windsong II have arrived. Hurrah! Good-bye, Taormina. Hello, Windsong II!
The time had finally come to formally change the name of our boat to something more meaningful to us.
Renaming a boat is not something to be done lightly, however. Superstition holds that you anger the gods of the seas and the winds if you change the name of a boat. (And we don’t want to do that!) However, if you honour the gods by following respectful denaming and renaming rituals you will not incur their wrath, and they will protect your boat as well as those who sail upon it.
According to legend, each and every vessel is recorded by name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea. If you wish to change the name of the boat, the first thing you must do is to purge its name from the Ledger of the Deep and from Poseidon’s memory.
You need to obliterate every trace of the boat’s current identity. This is essential and must be done thoroughly. You have to go through the sailboat to remove all logbooks, receipts, papers etc. You must of course also remove the old name from the outside of the boat and polish the gelcoat.
Then you perform the denaming cernemony. We chose Vigor’s Denaming Ceremony since he is a respected author of many books of cruising.
Vigor’s Denaming Ceremony
Together we repeated:
“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, 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 (Taormina), 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.”
Then it was time to affix the new name and port to the stern of the vessel.
After that we performed the following renaming or christening ceremony.
We started by saying this:
“For thousands of years, we have gone to sea. We have crafted vessels to carry us and we have called them by name. These ships will nurture and care for us through perilous seas, and so we affectionately call them “she”. To them we toast, and ask to celebrate Windsong II. (We raised our glasses and said: “To the sailors of old… to Windsong II.” Sips are taken.)
Then we followed with: “The moods of the sea are many, from tranquil to violent. We ask that this ship be given the strength to carry on. The keel is strong and she keeps out the pressures of the sea. (Again we raised glasses and said: “To the sea…to the sailors of old…to the sea!” Another sip.)
Then: “Today we come to name this sailboat Windsong II, and send her to sea to be cared for, and to care for the Galey-Hussey family. We ask the sailors of old and the mood of God that is the sea to accept Windsong II as her name, to help her through her passages, and allow her to return with her crew safely. (Again, we raised our glasses and said, “To the sea…to the sailors before us…to Windsong II.” A long, last sip.)
The next step in the renaming ceremony is to appease the gods of the winds. This helps assure fair winds and smooth seas.
“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 (Windsong II) the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs.
(Facing north) 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.
(Facing west) 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.
(Facing east) 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.
(Facing south) “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.”
We finished by saying:
“We name this sailing vessel Windsong II and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her.”
We sealed the ceremony by pouring champagne over the bow of the boat.
And a toast to Windsong II!