“Superstitions are a bunch of malarkey. You can’t ward off bad luck with a spell. Why even bother with the whole thing?” Lisa asked while sanding the transom of the boat on stilts in the boatyard.
Mark replied, “Malarkey? Who uses that word?”
“My grandmother. She was a wise woman,” Lisa answered.
“Well, I’m not taking any chances. As soon as we’ve finished the bottom paint and have her back in the water we’re doing the de-naming and re-naming ceremony,” said Mark.
“Fine. As long as there is rum,” she laughed.
Mark laughed, too, “Lots of champagne and, yes, rum. But don’t call her by her new name until we’ve gone through the ceremony. It will offend the gods.”
“You are hilarious. I still don’t see what’s wrong with the name it has. “Island Time” has a nice ring to it,” said Lisa.
Mark shook his head, “She. Boats are female. Be careful, they’re also very temperamental. “Island Time” is a nice name but I want her to be ours. Humour me.”
A week later, the boat was lowered from the hoist into the water. Mark and Lisa motored her across the estuary to her new slip.
“It seems like it would have been easier to put the new name on while we were in the yard,” Lisa remarked after they had tied up at the dock.
“Not possible. We have to de-name her first before christening her with her new name,” Mark answered.
“That silly superstitious thing again. Well, it’s a good reason for a dock party,” laughed Lisa.
They bustled about the boat, setting out the cockpit cushions, throwing plastic tablecloths over the dockboxes and placing camp chairs on the dock. A cooler of drinks and plates of appetizers were just being handed up from the galley when the first guests began to arrive. Wine and beer flowed into red Solo cups and everyone gathered around the bow. Mark made his way on board to the front of the boat and got everyone’s attention.
“Thank you all for coming. Today we celebrate this seaworthy vessel and her former owners. I have removed all physical traces of the name “Island Time” and hereby invoke the spirits of the ancient gods of sea and wind to bless us with their favor.”
“Hear us, King Neptune, ruler of the waves and all creatures that live in your fathomless depths.”
“Hear us, Mighty Eeolus, keeper of the gentle winds and ravaging storms.”
“We offer our gratitude for the safe journey you have afforded this vessel as she journeyed from port to port, from the casting of her keel until this moment secure in her berth.”
“We now ask that this vessel, hitherto know as “Island Time,” be struck from your records and remain but a memory of a worthy servant that sailed under your watchful trident and shield. We further implore that when presented with blessing for her new name, she be accorded the same favour for future journeys.”
“For your grace, we seal this pact with the offering of libations to your majesties.”
Mark eased off the cork with a “POP” and allowed champagne bubbles to flow from the bottle onto the deck of the boat.
“To Neptune!” he boomed, raising his bottle.
“Keep this vessel safe during calm and storm on your waters.”
Moving to the port side, which faced east, he slowly poured the crystal liquid overboard, moving up to the bow and down the starboard side until the bottle was empty.
“Hey! That was a good bottle of champagne! That Neptune dude has expensive tastes,” joked one of their dockmates.
“But wait, there’s more,” laughed Lisa. “We need to appease ol’ Eeolus still.”
Mark cleared his throat loudly. “First Mate, if you would pass me the second bottle we can get on with this.”
This time the cork of a bottle of Sailor Jerry rum was pulled out by Mark’s teeth. A dram was poured into a copper mug.
“To Eeolus, the brother gods of the four winds!” said Mark, raising the mug.
“Great Boreas, ruler of the North Wind, grant us the favor of your fair winds and spare us your frigid breath.” Mark flung the rum over the side to the north and poured again.
“Great Zephyrus, ruler of the West Wind, grant us the favor of your fair winds and spare us your wild breath.” Mark flung a second dram of rum, this time to the west, spattering several onlookers.
“Thanks for the shower, Captain. I’ll consider myself blessed,” said a wise-cracking friend.
Mark continued on the south side toasting to Notus, and on the East to Eurus.
When he finished he passed the bottle back to Lisa who poured tastes into shot glasses and handed them out to the party.
Mark raised the refilled copper mug high.
“Hail Neptune and Eeolus! We have sacrificed our finest libations in your names. We ask for your mercy and grace upon this vessel, now and foreverafter to be known as “Desert Dream.”
Toasts were raised and the shots of rum quickly tossed back.
Mark climbed down from the boat onto the dock and handed Lisa another bottle of champagne, this one wrapped in netting.
“The honor is yours, M’Lady. Have at her.”
“I name this vessel “Desert Dream.” May all who sail in her be blessed!” Lisa swung the bottle onto the hard fiberglass bow of the boat, shattering the glass and sending champagne spraying.
Bottles of wine, champagne and rum were passed about until all had their cups filled once again.
One of their friends shouted, “To Captain Mark, First Mate Lisa and Sailing Vessel Desert Dream!” Toasts were raised and congratulations rang out.
Someone hit the button on the boombox and music floated over the dock. Voices hummed in conversation while Jimmy Buffet sang about “wasting away again in Margaritaville” and guests climbed on board to check out the newest addition to the marina fleet.
Lisa sidled up to Mark and slid her arm around his waist.
“Good job, Captain. Our girl is thoroughly blessed and so am I. You were right, this superstitious stuff is actually a lot of fun. Now let’s take Desert Dream sailing … We’re thinking Mexico!”
Bon Voyage, Mark & Lisa!
Written January 2018; Read at To Live & Write in Alameda’s “Shorts” (formerly Story Slam), February 2018. Dedicated to beloved TLWA members, Mark and Lisa, who left our island for a desert home in New Mexico. Inspired by the real-life boat re-naming of Tom & Sheila’s “Five O’clock Somewhere” in 2013 at Marina Village Yacht Harbor, Gate 9.
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One thought on “Superstitious Sailors”
That was quite a ceremony! I was not aware there were so many gods involved in naming and blessing a boat.
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