[Public-List] Boat Names
Roger L. Kingsland
r.kingsland at ksba.com
Tue Oct 25 12:48:58 PDT 2011
A friend is unfortunately in the hospital for an extended stay and, as such,
is a somewhat captive audience. Thinking he might find it slightly more
entertaining than daytime TV, I thought to send him a copy of the Page
exchanges we had regarding boat names in 2003. In case some Pagers might
also be interested, I have attached the string below; if not, the good old
delete key will come in handy.
In the spring of 2003 I bought a 1966 Alberg 30 sailboat and was pleased to
learn there is an active owners association that sponsors a web page for
owners to discuss how to repair and sail their boats. The following is a
string of posts on the subject of boat names. My postings are in black;
replies are in blue.
Original RLK posting on 9/11/03;
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 its 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 Stealer 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
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
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
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. Youll 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 Stealer (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 Stealer 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 OBriens historical
fiction series about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. His A30
(#426) is named "Surprise," which was the name of the central figures
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 detre (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.
Response from Ross Horton on 9/11/03 at 1240 hours;
My Alberg's name was Delphi when I bought her and I kept it. Obviously
the name is in reference to the Greek oracle that foretold the future,
often in ways that were usually obscure and sometimes unwelcome. The
oracle, however, always revealed the truth. I decided to keep the name
for a couple of reasons. First, there are few things better than a boat
that reveals the true character of the people they touch. A small boat
in bad weather or difficult situations (hot, cold, flat calm, stormy,
wavy, buggy, thirsty, last in fleet, spinnaker wrap, etc.) tells me an
awful lot about myself and anyone who sails with me. Second, I am a
lawyer and I often reveal the truth in ways that are obscure and
As a former Pittsburgher, I am intrigued with your plan to sail an
Alberg in the city. My boat is currently at Quantico on the Potomac
which though wider than the three rivers is still rather linier at
times. It does, however, teach one to tack smartly. If you are going
to keep the boat in Pittsburgh for a while you may wish to consider a
name connected to that venue. While the sports teams obviously are a
fertile field, the city is also known for its penchant for liquid
refreshment. A name like "Frothingslosh" (the pale stale ale with the
foam on the bottom) would be appreciated by all the natives who have
reached a certain age.
RK reply on 9/11/03 at 1326 hours;
Thanks for your reply. It's exactly what we are looking for. Your "small
boat in bad weather....." scenario sounds like your personal version of a
reality TV show.
Thanks also for the name suggestions. I think Rege Kordick died a few years
ago which caused Old Frothingslosh sales to drop considerably. If I end up
sailing the rivers, I might consider "Barge Bait."
Gary Baker response on 9/11 /03 at 1348 hours;
As another former Pittsburgher (Pitt Dental '85), you have me a bit
concerned. Why do so many Pittsburghers like Alberg 30's? When I was
down there in the early 80"s, I asked a guy what was with Pittsburg?
"Sports, beer, women," he said. "In that order." I am now thinking
that we should add A 30's to the List.
Anyway, everyone needs an oracle to consult on these kinds of issues- I
Ching, Runes, Animal Cards- I chose the Viking Runes and picked
"Sowelu", the rune for Wholeness, the Sun as my name for A 30 #307. It
was formerly "Il Molino". So consider that two folks from Three Rivers
have told you to consult oracles. There might be something there.
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Reply from C.B. Currier on 9/11/02 at 1424hrs
My opinion & practice ...
If you do not like the name look into the boats documentation & see what
the previous names were.
I believe that you DO NOT rename a boat, as it is bad luck, even with a
new owner unless it has been sunk. I am generally not superstitious but
the sea is a different animal & this practice I hold dear.
Just my $0.02.
Infinity #57 (Always known that way)
Daybreak #458(PO wanted to name 'The Sherrod' but never got around to
Well, I am trying to get a handle on this name change thing. As I
understand it is not kosher to rename a boat unless it has been sunk but it
is OK to use a previous name for the same boat. Although not applicable, I
suppose it would be acceptable to rename a boat captured as a prize of war
(Gordon Laco probably has the scoop on that).
I do want to rename "The Sailing Artist Formally Known as Mahina Manu" (A30
#148) so here's my plan. First, check into previous names. Hopefully there
will a good one like "Springtide" or "Zest." Knowing my luck, the past
names will probably be more like "Bucket" or "Ballast" or "Bopper."
If the old names don't float my boat, I had thought about actually sinking
the boat. But, to do it right seems a little drastic. Do I need to get the
entire cabin top under water or just get the cabin sole awash in order for
it to be officially sunk?
Another promising opportunity is to sell the boat to someone who will rename
it and sell it back to me. I have a non sailor neighbor who has agreed to
buy #148 from me for a dollar, rename her and sell her back to me for two
dollars. One hundred percent profit for so little work isn't bad. My only
risk with this scenario is my neighbor might decide to forgo the profit,
keep the boat and rename her "Roger's Folly." In that case I would consider
declaring war on my neighbor, taking her (the boat, not the neighbor) as a
prize and renaming the boat; something like "Victory" or "Indefatigable" or
"Spoils of War" (SOW for short). Come to think of it, this would be a
pretty neat opportunity. I could write a modern day Patrick O'Brian novel
about my little war with detail descriptions of all the Navel battles,
Lastly, I could ask Bill and Mary Ann Mahony for a copy of their
dename/rename ceremony and try to use it to cover my bases and hope for
Thanks for your two cents. Variety is the spice of a wooden nickel.
C. B. Courier reply;
What a hoot.
New Theory(1): sink up to floor Boards pump out -- Rename
New Theory(2): Get boat to blessing of the fleet apply name during
blessing drink holy water/rum ... spash some on boat & in Bay. --
New Theory (3): War works! Eastport Does it annually - Could be captured
At the crack of noon during the Eastport / Annapolis tug of war known as
The slaughter across the water. Recovered during happy hour by a band of
rogue pirates from bay ridge. or other local neighborhood. -- Rename
As for Infinity:
AS I understand it She has Always been blue - has almost always been in
Annapolis 6 years in Mass.
I paint her hull (roll & tip) with interlux Brightside. Comes out beautiful
very few drips or waves. I have never painted the deck since I have had
her (97).My aunt, who owner her previously, did once (I'm not sure). I
have found that a pressure washer or the use of soft scrub once or 2x a
season does the trick. I have no non skid paint on the decks as they are
definitely original. So the Original non-skid is the only element we have
to keep us on the boat.
Thanks very much,
Jon Littlefield reply on 9/11/03 at 1453 hours;
Roger (and others):
My ex and I struggled over what to name a previous boat (not an Alberg,
unfortunately). After looking through books on baby names, we finally chose
Metikla, which is Miwok (Native American) for "Reaching a hand underwater
while trying to catch a white suckerfish" -- I swear! It was a great
conversation-starter, but we had to spell it for every bridge tender from
Norfolk to Miami!
Good luck to you.
Gordon Laco reply on 9/11/03 at 1454 hours;
How can I resist getting into this one...
My first boat, an Albacore racing dinghy was called "Crazy Horse" - I'm a
Neil Young fan, was studying history and I had gotten into the habit of
calling whatever boat I was racing in "the horse".
My second boat was a Danish built Folkboat that I bought as "Touch Wood" and
kept that name.. her dinghy was called "Touched Wood" because of the number
of times it banged up my varnish work.
You know the current boat is Alberg 30 "Surprise" - indeed she was named for
Jack Aubrey's H.M.S.Surprise.
In my racing and wandering days I sailed in boats with nice but unfortunate
names... you've got to be careful when your boat's name will be exposed to
wit. A few - "Barca Nostra" became popularly known as "Barking Dog"; Orace
(named for a fast square rigger skippered by the owner's ancestor) became
"Or face", "Velour" very fast boat - became "Velour" until we got told to
stop calling her that by the skipper. Naturally there were several
"Passing Winds (who could improve on that? One boat was briefly named "No
Fat Chicks" but an outcry caused the owner to rename it "Rule Number Three"
which we knew meant...
Another got the use of a new racing boat for a season to introduce it to the
market and hopefully win lots to make a reputation for it (this was back in
the Quarter Ton IOR days). We had a terrific time until someone announced
that "The Blivet" meant "ten-pounds-of-sh*t-in-five-pound-bag" not too
heroic and there almost went our sponsor. There was a "Deliverance"; every
time I saw her I thought of that scene from the film of that name... We
used to call out "squeal like a pig" or just twang the tune of Dueling
Banjos when crossing her in races while they pretended not to know what we
were referring to.
There was a "Silent Rage" - holy cow, who would sail with that guy?
You've got to be so careful.
Gord #426 Surprise
Yeves Parenteau response on 9/11/02 at 1424 hours;
I never questioned the authenticity of Chewan. I was told by previous owner
it meant fast running water in Cree...now I'm starting to wonder. I may
have been sailing all summer with a boat called in English "go hut" or
something like that.
RK reply on 9/14/03 at 0009 hours;
Sorry to complicate things. Frankly, I never anticipated the dark side of
my seemingly innocent request.
Not to worry though, I dusted off my Cree to English / English to Cree
dictionary (you know, one of those ones that you flip over depending on
weather you speak English or Cree) and you are (mostly) right. "Chewan"
does mean "fast running water."
I should have just left it at that but curiosity got the better of me so I
was compelled to also check my UNABRIDGED English to OLD Cree Dictionary and
discovered "fast running water" is the abbreviated version of the full
translation which is, "(the sound of) FAST RUNNING WATER (makes me want to
turn the snow yellow)" (please refer to Author's disclaimer below). Of
course truer words were never spoken and it just confirms how well connected
to nature the Cree are; so, in my book, yours is a great boat name.
PS - Does anybody have a Polynesian to English dictionary? Preferably NOT
an unabridged version.
Author's Disclaimer - In the interest of bad humor, the author may have
taken certain liberties that could be interpreted as criticism of certain
boat names that the author understands may be held in high affection by the
owners of the so named boats. Please understand any response appearing to
be critical is not so intended but rather the result of nothing more than
bad humor that the author regrets subjecting the kind reader to (in addition
to subjecting the reader to sentences ending in prepositions). He hopes the
subjects of his questionable humor, both the owners and the boats (hope you
don't mind personification), are not offended and sincerely and profusely
apologizes to those who are, even if ever so slightly.
Bill & Mary Ann Mahony reply on 9/11/03 at 1816 hours;
We also renamed #276 when we purchased her last year. We too were searching
for something special to us...I finally asked my wife if it would be ok to
name the boat after her--I loved the Alberg when I first saw her, and well,
you get the rest. I've always liked boats with feminine names--particularly
two names (so "Mary Ann" worked quite well!), for no other reason I can
think of other than they remind me of the old days of sailing ships...not
very scientific, but there you have it.
FWIW, we did go through a formal denaming and christening ceremony--if you'd
like, I can email you the script. There are several versions on the web.
Along humorous lines, I can think of two that have made me chuckle...."My
Last Boat II" and "Yes Dear" ;-)
Congrats on your new boat!
#276 "Mary Ann"
Gail Helmes reply on 9/11/03 at 2005 hours;
What kind of coffee do you drink and can you get it in Maryland?
#US 11 Encore - a request from the audience for a repeat performance (for my
M. Mienhold reply on 9/11/03 at 2116 hours;
We are new to #272, "Valency". While it's a pretty name, I needed all the
points I could muster to convince Pat to buy into this sailboat thing.
Rinn Duin is a lovely ruin of an Irish Castle on Loch Ree, Co. Roscommon,
Pat's Grandmother Leonard grew up. It will be the namesake for #272 when she
relaunched in the spring (March if I can swing it).
When my sister-in-law Katherine bought a powerboat with her friends Judy and
Kitty, I suggested combining their names - so they did. She is Kajuki, which
thought had a nice African ring to it.
Alfredo repsone on 9/11/03 at 2128 hours;
I too started off on a Hobie mine was old and the blue color hulls
were faded along with its previous name. I renamed my Hobie Wind Song,
because of the humming noise the hulls would make when pushed trough
the water by the wind.
During my college years in Florida, my housemates and I shared a red
sleek powerboat a Donzi 31 named Sin or Swim. (Explanation given upon
When I purchased my Alberg it was named Free Spirit honestly, I could
have not come up with a better name myself. It surely describes how I
feel when I sail her. My body might have to return to the dock and back
to the rat race but my spirit will follow the wind and chase the sun
over the horizon.
#497 Free Spirit
Gordon Laco response 9/11/03 at 2230;
Here is another bad story - I want to illustrate the danger of not naming
My good friend Boyd had a boat that went a whole season with no name. My
wife and I threw a New Years Eve party (we were carefree mortgage less and
childless then) during which the lack of a name came up. I declared that
if Boyd did not name his boat by midnight we (the party goers) would name it
for him. 12 came and he had no name (he was already a little "distracted"
by 11) so we did a round of suggestions and came up with "Culvert" as in
He never acknowledged Culvert was his boat's name but it appeared as such in
the Club race register. He got even with me.
Gord #426 Surprise
Patty Johnson response on 9/11/03 at 2233hrs;
I bought my A 30 this year with the name on in "Lee Ann" and dang I have
been trying to come up with something else. So...in October it's gonna be
"Timbuktu". If I don't like that, gonna change it to "Skedaddle", cause
it's much faster than my Catalina 27. I'm not the least bit superstitious
about anything, because you all know "its bad luck to be superstitious." I
may well change the name monthly until I find the perfect name.
Daphne, Al (On Mobile Bay...beautiful place to sail!)
RLK reply on 9/14/03 at 0753hrs;
I like the idea of a monthly name change, that way you can get a sense of
what shows well on the boat and matches your mood. Just a couple of
thoughts, not on the name but methods to enable changing it.
Several of us have boat names in obscure foreign languages. Me, Polynesian
("Mahina Manu"), Gary Baker, Viking Runes (I am not quite sure a rune is a
language bit it sure sounds foreign) ("Sowelu"); Yves Parenteau, Cree
("Chiwan"); Jon Littlefield, Miwok ("Metikla"). I think we all realize
that, with these kinds of names, we can just make up what they mean. In
fact even though Jon "swears" Metikla" means, "Reaching a hand underwater
while trying to catch a white suckerfish" I strongly suspect he is pulling
our leach chords. Although this translation could fall into the
"stranger than fiction" category, it would not surprise me if it varies
according to whatever odd thing he is thinking about at the time. Last time
it was probably something like, "smelling breath of bear while eating
buffalo burger with relish (that unexpectedly turned out to be one of those
double meaning things)." So why not pick some nice sounding word, claim it
is Swahili, and just make it up as you go along. You could even paint the
name on the transom with small print under it saying "ask me what it means
Other possibilities. Slots on the transom to hold different "name boards."
If we all get them and share, it would be like boat swapping only we would
all still know where the dust pan was.
Of course the ultimate would be a moving message board (smaller version of
the Times Square thing). Then the lowly boat name could graduate from a
static, often obscure statement to a dynamic message with true, up to the
minute, editorial content. Imagine the possibilities; "(Lee Ann went to)
Timbuktu," "Skedaddle (has Catalina 27s for breakfast)," "(follow me to)
Terra Sub Aqua," "(if you follow me, I can't) Steer Naked," "(drop your
anchor) Somewhere Else," "Plus Ultra (is not a tooth paste)," "Imagination
(gives me a headache)," "Encore, (encore, encore, encore....)," "Yes Dear
(I did clean the head)," "(if I) Don't Stop (now, I will drive you and me
Neil Jaclson reply on 9/12/03 at 1446hrs;
I did not get around to reading this exchange until this afternoon and I am
only now recovering from the rolling around on the floor laughing!
Thanks to all those who shared their funny experiences on boat names. Of
course all the people who work for me now are sure I am totally nuts (they
had suspicions before), but it was worth it as I feel fully expunged from my
laughing (sort of like you do before you go for a colonoscopy).
Mathew Hay on 9/12/03 at 2059 hours;
My Alberg hull # 314 was named Winsome when I bought her. I kept the name
because a good friend of the family that I grew up sailing with had an
Alberg 37 named Winsome. He passed away a few years before I happened
across my Winsome. Not the same boat, but the sentiment was there, and I
feel that he is looking over us as we crash about the ocean. My parents
live aboard (and are circumnavigating) on an Oyster 56 named Newsboy because
my father owned and published a daily newspaper for 35 years. Consequently
the dingy is named paper-weight.
Tim Williams on 9/12/03 at 2111 hours;
LinGin, #244, was named by my grandfather, Bruce Rankin. It's a combination
of my mothers name, Linda, and my aunt's name, Virginia (Ginger).
RK final response on 4/26/04 at 1128 hours;
Some of you may recall that, in the pre new server era, I initiated some
discussion of boat names in an effort to intellectualize a new name for A30,
#148, formerly, "Mahina Manu." Some of the names we considered include;
Well, after a winter of analysis, the Kingsland family has selected the name
"PERFECT intentions." It is a reference to the elusive pursuit of
perfection that is a reality in my profession (architecture) which, I have
learned, also applies to boat restoration. Every building/boat starts with
a perfect vision and ends up as collection of compromises. It is difficult
to compromise a perfect vision but rewarding to achieve the final result,
especially with a boat as beautiful as an Alberg.
Thanks for all the feedback. I hope some day to join the Chesapeake racers
and give everyone a great view of our new name on the transom.
Chief Financial Officer (AKA, check writer)
PERFECT intentions, A30 #148
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.
More information about the Public-List