[Alberg30] Boat Names

Roger L. Kingsland rkingsland101 at ksba.com
Thu Sep 11 08:29:39 PDT 2003

Albergers (hold the mayo);

Most of this communication is a rambling build up to a request stated in the last three paragraphs; so, if you get sleepy just go directly there.


My family and I are struggling over what to name our new (to us) A30, #148.  Her current name, Mahina Manu, is purported to mean "Moon Bird" in Polynesian. However, for all we know, it could mean "Oil Slick," or even, "Your Fly is Down."   I don't think there are birds on the Moon nor do I think there are birds that moon; so, we are willing to flaunt nautical tradition and rename the boat.


My first boat was a brand new 1976 Hobie 16' that was all white.  I thought having an all white Hobie among all those colorful, show-off boats would be unique.  I used to hang a red bandanna from the forestay bridle for just the right touch of tasteful color.  I named her "Purity," which seemed appropriate given the color (or lack thereof) and the singular, go fast purpose of the boat.  The kids in the family I sold the boat to some 10 years later renamed her "Generic Boat;" so much for high-minded names.


My second boat, a 1962 centerboard Rhodes 19 day-sailor, came with the name "Tonic," which I interpreted to mean good for what ails ya, not what you add to gin.  I think it's a great name for that boat because she is a joy to sail and sailing her is so therapeutic.  No worries with Tonic; even in the strongest gust, she takes on about 20 gallons of water then heads into the wind.  The 350-pound cast iron centerboard makes an ideal depth sounder;  I just tack every time it hits bottom.  In fact, three years of finding the bottom with Tonic on Pittsburgh's three rivers has given me the confidence to sail the A30 on the rivers.  Not that there are any good reasons to do so.  River sailing is a very linear existence and I don't think the mast will clear the last two bridges en route to Steeler games at Heinz Field.


That gets us to the new name for A30, #148.  Some time ago, I read that the country of Portugal had the Latin moniker of "Non Plus Ultra," which translates to "no more beyond," or "there is no more beyond (Portugal)."  Then, in the 15th century they got into all of that global exploration so the name didn't quite fit.  Their solution was to take out the "Non," the remaining "Plus Ultra" means, "the more beyond."  I always thought that would be a great name for a boat and for years have given that name to the cruising catamarans I design as a hobby (architect by day, frustrated naval architect by night).  I have the Plus Ultra, Twin Cockpit Pilot House 42; the Plus Ultra, River Curser 36 (a power boat); and several models in between.     


A little side note on the catamaran design: I use the term "design" very loosely.  Actually, I was able to cajole a very fine naval architect, Chris White, to send me drawings of his Atlantic series catamarans.  Working with his hull designs, I modify the layouts (mostly) and rigging (sometimes).  Chris designs what I think are the most beautiful and functional ocean-going sailboats afloat.  His designs are based on solid logic, much of which is described in his book, "Cruising Multi-hulls," which can be found along with some great boat designs, on his web site, www.chriswhitedesigns.com.  Anyway, I do these crazy designs and send the sketches to Chris for his comments.  The usual response is, "That's interesting."  Since I know what that means when I say it to my clients, I am aware I should keep my day job.


Back to Plus Ultra.  I was a little nervous about giving such a high performance-sounding name to a traditional, and not exceptionally fast, mono-hull.  When our kids (girl 13, boy 11) pointed out that it sounded like a toothpaste, that was the end of that name.  Perhaps I will use it when Chris White designs a real catamaran for me.  Will someone please reply to my previous request for stocks that will appreciate at least 30% so I can get Chris started?


Next came family names.  I don't mean naming the boat after an ancestor (my stepmother-in-law asked us to name our daughter after distant relative Unity Yancey; for some reason we declined and she gave the name to her miniature Schnauzer instead), but rather after ships associated with our family history.  Some of my ancestors were ship captains, but we don't know the names of their vessels.  That doesn't really matter though because I can claim that whatever name we come up with was the name of one of my ancestors' ships.  You'll have to take my word for it that I actually even have ship captain ancestors.  


My great, great, great, great, great (I might be off by a great or two) grandfather had a lumber mill in Nutley, New Jersey and supplied the first wooden curbs to New York City.  His schooner, used to ship the wood across the Hudson, was named "Charming Polly," which, I assume, was his wife's name (I don't think, even then, they named boats after parrots); not as bad as either Unity or Yancey, but still too old fashioned for my taste.


My neighbors got onto the fray during the weekly Steeler (you know, that pro football team that is going to win its fifth Super Bowl this season) game party.  Aside from a strong endorsement for "Passing Wind," (11-year old boys have certain "issues," but sure know how to do the double meaning thing), a couple of stupid motorboat names came up.  Someone suggested "Bag-O-Beer," which is what we all carry to the Steeler party host house each week.  Unless we want to entertain naming the boat "Heinz Ward," or "The Bus," or "Tommy Maddox," I don't think there is much hope for genuine boat naming help from the neighborhood.


Which gets me to the point, finally!  Since the Kingsland's have all winter to decide, I think it is only appropriate to make the name selection process a little harder, and would like to do some research using data provided by Albergers (no buns for the Atkins folks).  Would you all please be kind enough to send me a story about a boat name (or two, three...)?  I am interested in knowing about how you, and/or your friends, came up with the name(s) for your boat(s).  For Example, Gord Laco is the technical consultant for the new movie by Fox based on Patrick O'Brien's historical fiction series about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.  His A30 (#426) is named "Surprise," which was the name of the central figure's favorite command, a fast frigate.   I have a friend whose boats have all been named after towns in Nantucket (Siasconset, Sankaty, Quidnet) and a sister whose many yellow labs had names starting with the letter "T" (Tavner, Tuffy, Treetorn, Terra, Tyler, Trevor, Tickles).  


Although suggestions for boat names are certainly welcome, I am most interested in the stories behind the names; the raison d'etre (why do the French have to eat raisins to come up with an idea).  I would also be interested in any humorous names you have seen, even if you don't know their origins.  I have found the transoms of motorboats are often a good source.  Basically, anything you would like to share regarding names will be valuable and will help give us direction and purpose.


Your help in solving the Kingsland family naming dilemma this fall and winter would be greatly appreciated.  If you prefer a private response, my email is rkingsland101 at ksba.com.


Thank you, thank you very much,

Roger Kingsland
Chief Financial Officer (AKA, check writer)
Mahina Manu, A30 #148
N40°  29.288'
W79°  54.228'
Author's Disclaimer; This email was produced exclusively by the sender and, in the interest of expediency, without the benefit of editing by others.  The sender, thank goodness, is a much better architect/sailor than speller/editor and, frankly, constantly laments an obvious flaw in "spell check," it does not know what the author is thinking.  Please accept the sender's sincere apologies for any "typos" that may appear in this document.  If present, they are certainly unintended and hopefully do not cloud the message, or spawn any unnecessary lawsuits.

 |                This Old Boat by Don Casey                     |
 | http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0071579931/alberg30-20 |

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