August 24, 2009
Sailors are a superstitious lot. From “don’t leave for a voyage on a Friday” to “toast Neptune when you cross the equator” to “put a penny under the mast when you step it” and all points in between, there is a lot of lore on what you can and can’t, should and shouldn’t. So what is this business about naming a boat?
Let me be honest here. We renamed our boat. Gulp. We really did. “Newsboy” did not do it for us. Neither did “Zurimum.” She had been renamed before. She had no name on the transom . . . so we renamed her.
Naming a boat. How hard could THAT possibly be? It isn’t like naming a kid, for pete’s sake. I agree – in some ways it is far, far harder. For those of you planning to sail off into the sunset at some point, you need to know that you will be known by your boat name. Forget last names – we were “Nica and Jeremy Calypso” the last time we were out, and I imagine it will be the same this time. You are hailed on the radio by your boat name – so if you are some incomprehensible, too-cute name (I won’t give any examples – I might piss someone off) you will get really, really tired of the “who’s on first” routine. “Roger” and “Over” are two names that might get old fast.
We were recent college grads when we bought our boat. I think I spent weeks in the school library, searching for the perfect combination of literary and technology. (I even spent a fruitless few minutes looking for a Muse of engineering. There isn’t one.) Then I found it. Perfect!
Calypso is the name of one of our favorite kinds of music. It is also the name of the nymph in The Odyssey, the one who lured Odysseus away from home for all those years. What could be wrong with this? What a unique name! In triumph, we commissioned our friend Stuart Stout to come by and paint the name on the transom. What a gorgeous job he did.
Flash forward to our first Bahamas anchorage. “So how long have you been enthralled with Jacques Cousteau?”