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Denaming and naming your yacht

When we got our boat the first question we asked was whether we were going to keep the name. We quickly decided that we would not. What then were the requirements (if any) for changing the name of the boat?

It was reasonably clear that there would be some procedure involved. After all Royalty went through clearly defined ceremonies for the naming of yachts 'and all who sail in them'. However what was the ceremony, and how should it be performed?

The answer appears to be Vigor's Interdenominational Boat Denaming Ceremony. With many thanks to John Vigor the actual words to be used are:

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.'

The renaming ceremony is much more straightforward:

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

Actually conducting the ceremony seems to be the easy part. Some preparation is required. Again drawing on the steps suggested by John Vigor, it seems to be that you need to:

1. Remove all physical traces of the boat's old name. 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. Sand away the old name from the lifebuoys, transom, top-side, dinghy, and oars. Painting over is not good enough.

2. Don't place the new name anywhere on the boat before the denaming ceremony is carried out. That's just tempting fate. Personally I hope that mentioning the new boat name, for example on this web site and on application forms for handicaps is not going to count - otherwise we are in trouble!

3. Conduct the ceremony - how to do it depends entirely on you. Full blown performance or plain mumbling doesn't matter. The main thing is that you carry it out. The words must be spoken.

4. The last part of the ceremony, the libation, must be performed at the bow, just as it is in a naming ceremony. 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. For a Scot, pouring a whole bottle over the boat is going to present a challenge...

5. Allow a period of time before renaming. Vigor suggests 24 hours.

Then conduct the renaming ceremony.

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