Naming A New

Last night we were driving home from an afternoon spent on our boat Santa Maria. My wife had wondered, while we patiently and persistently scrubbed away some scum from this corner and that crook of the good ship, what we might call a vessel were we to acquire one nameless. This question was prodded, in part, by the plethora of strange names given boats in a marina.

People are trying to be variously funny, poetic, clever, sentimental et cetera (not a bad boat name itself, that last Latin common phrase) in this naming. Failures are many and magnificent, although “funny, poetic, and clever” may well be in the eye of the beholder. We quite like Santa Maria – an inherited name – although she was once differently called. We posed a few possibilities aloud, and scratched our heads at some names surrounding us.

The finger of the slip we are on in the harbour is in poor straits. Apparently, the marina was pounded by the remnants of hurricane “Barry” this week, although I am unsure whether this particular pounding was from Barry or another storm. Naming hurricanes, too, seems a bit fraught. Once upon a time these were all called by women’s names, as I recall. Now storms are differently gendered once they reach the requisite speed of 120 km/hr for a full minute.

There had been reports of yet another storm coming our way, and so we made our way home in the early evening, and drove through that very storm. It was a thing of rare beauty and looked utterly different than the storm we saw when I saw it through the eyes of different cameras at various angles on the news that night. But in each photo, it was stark and poised, about to pounce.

As we drove from the edge to the eye of the storm on our way to Kitchener, once called Berlin (a topic for another blog) to 185 Sheldon St. I know that here and there, in the world, houses and farms are named. Ours are numbered, as have been people, with the Holocaust and the Residential School Systems being notorious examples.

Santa Maria has a number as well, nicely stenciled on the fore of her hull. But I don’t remember it, while I never even have to grasp after “Santa Maria” in my current mental capacity. I like names more than numbers, and wonder too, what we might call a boat without a name. I suspect we will never face this problem since new boats are out of our price range, even while we could very well be facing the prospect of renaming a boat one day. “Barry” and “185” are unlikely candidates, and I suspect “et cetera” would finally not pass muster. But for now this is not my worry. A wise man once said that each day has troubles sufficing for itself (Matthew 6:34), and on this day called “Sunday,” I’ll think a little on him and ponder the power of storms, the curve of a hull, and the mystery of names, now chosen, now found and sometimes arriving without much ado.

8 thoughts on “Naming A New

  1. shoreacres says:

    Naming is both hard, and fun. When Dixie Rose came to live with me, a name was needed, but the process of finding the right one took some time. She was a southern kitty, and she was beautiful, so eventually “Dixie Rose” seemed perfect.

    As for boats — there was a time when the Tayana 37 I spent years sailing was known as “Bilbo Baggins.” They say it’s bad luck to rename a boat, but that wasn’t going to do: not at all. Eventually, “Morning Star” was chosen, and did just fine.

    I once tried to convince a customer, whose trawler was named “Biscuit,” to name his dinghy “Gravy.” And another customer was proud of both his boat and his heritage. His was named, “Beauty, Eh!”

    • agjorgenson says:

      Yes, naming is very difficult! For a short time, our middle daughter decided to use her middle name because children were teasing her with her first name. We used it for a time, but she eventually went back to her first name, which felt right. I’m not sure if that meant that we named her well, but it seems to speak to the power of a name.

      As for boats… boy, there’s some doozies out there. Beauty, Eh, makes me think the owner was Canadian!

  2. Loved this little musing, Allen. I was struck in Scotland by how many of the homes where we stayed had names that either predated and/or existed alongside their numbers. “The Shining Home” was one in particular I remember.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks much! Yes, I recall some farm names in Scandinavia, and I think sometimes people brought their farm names as proper names to North America upon immigration.

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