Renaming Ceremony

neptuneOf the many superstitions involved in sailing–leaving on a Friday, cutting hair on a boat, seeing a red-head, a rat, a cormorant, the list seems endless–renaming a boat is perhaps one of the riskiest endeavors…unless you and your friends have a properly reverent ceremony, spill lots of bubbly and generally respect the power of the wind and sea.

  Last week, our friends and neighbors came together to help us say goodbye to Crash Pad. In some ways, it was another way of saying goodbye to a dear friend who left us too soon. In some ways, it helped us to feel like he is still here looking over us as we take over his boat and take her to new places–or rather as she takes us to new places.

By request, the script I adapted is below here. If you are renaming a boat, try the Bluewater Sailing ceremony, but consider abbreviating and personalizing. Also, my rewrite keeps a little suspense by not using the name of the boat until the captain (also in this case the author of the name) names the boat. Good luck making your ceremony a memorable day for all.

If you want to see our toast and the captain’s renaming, please go to the Cruising in Gratitude Facebook Page (and like us while there!). Cheers!

O r d e r   o f   E v e n t s

  1. Opening Invocation & Blessing—Dave
  2. Expression of Gratitude—Dave
  3. Supplication & De-naming—Andrew
  4. Rededication in Preparation for Renaming—Al
  5. Libation & Ceremonial Rituals—Al
  6. Honoring the Ancient Gods of the Winds and the Seas—Mike
  7. Placing of Good Luck Charms—Jeannie
  8. Renaming of the Boat—Peter
  • Party

 C E R E M O N Y   D E T A I L S

Opening Invocation & Blessing—Dave

Ring the ship’s bell and call the ceremony to order.

“In the name of all who have sailed aboard this vessel in the past and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient god of wind, Aeolus, and the ancient god of sea, Neptune, also hailed as Poseidon, to favor us with their blessings today. Most importantly, we invoke God’s blessing, and the blessings of all the angels and saints and of course, the blessing of our dearly-loved and too-soon-departed friend, Russ.

Expression of Gratitude—Dave

“Mighty Neptune, King of all that moves in or on the waves, and mighty Aeolus, guardian of the winds and all that blows before them…We offer gratitude for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past. We express our thanks that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and that she always enjoyed safe passage to port (well…except for that time that she got tripped up on a dyke…but that’s another story…).”

Ring bell

“A toast to CRASH PAD…………………………..and to RUSS.”

Supplication & De-Naming—Andrew

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage… We implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name CRASH PAD which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this rusty piece of steel bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea”

At this point, the steel is dropped from the bow of the boat into the sea.

“Now the name of this vessel which has hitherto been known as CRASH PAD is struck and removed from all records and archives.”

“In grateful acknowledgment we offer these libations.”

(Pour at least half of the bottle of Champagne into the sea from East to West. The remainder may be passed among guests.)

Ring the bell. Everyone drink a toast.

 Rededication & Preparation for Re-NamingAl

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, we implore you in your graciousness to guard this worthy vessel with your mighty arm and trident and ensure her safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm.”

Libation and Ceremonial RitualsAl

“In good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea…we offer these libations to Neptune and the sea.”

Ring the bell. Everyone drink a toast.

Honoring Gods of the Wind and Sea –Mike

“Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel the benefits and pleasures of your bounty and your gentle protection.”

Facing north, pour a generous libation of Champagne into a Champagne flute and fling to the North:

“To Great Boreas, the exalted ruler of the North Wind!

Facing west, pour the same amount of Champagne and fling to the West while intoning:

“To Great Zephyrus, exalted ruler of the West Wind!”

 Facing east, repeat and fling to the East:

“To Great Eurus, exalted ruler of the East Wind!

Facing south, repeat, flinging to the South:

“To Great Notus, exalted ruler of the South Wind!

“Hail! Aeolus and Neptune!! We seek your benevolence upon this vessel.

”Aeolus, whose mighty hand doth charge the wind, to this vessel gentle zephyrs send, and those who sail within will bend heads in awe and tribute, without end.”

“With breath from high that maketh heaven’s breeze, to cause we sailors joy, or fear, upon the seas. We call upon you Aeolus, please – grant this ship and all its mortals, ease.”

“To Aeolus!”

Everyone drink a toast to Aeolus, pour champagne into the air, ring the bell.

“O! Neptune, you spirit god of waters great and small, on this vessel, by your grace, allow this man and wife, to pass from port of hailing to their ports of call, and on these sailing subjects make your gentle blessings fall.”

“You who cause the seas to rage or lie in sweet repose, please listen to all we mariners here, your servants of the flows. This ship, the captain, crew and all of those who love the wind and seas – will follow where thee goes.”

“To Neptune!”

Everyone drink a toast to Neptune, pour wine into the water, ring the bell.

Placing of Good Luck Symbols—Jeannie

“As you likely know, part of the custom of a boat renaming ceremony is to place a silver dollar under the mast—to show the boat that we will take care of every financial need the boat has. But instead of a silver dollar, we have a sand dollar that Russ brought back from his trip to the Bahamas. For all who know the legend of the sand dollar, this is the prefect symbol to remind us of Russ. Fragile as it is, we will not place it under the mast, but instead it will be placed behind the boat’s barometer with hopes for good weather. We hope this shows the boat that we will look for fair weather and following seas and (God willing) take her to many places and make her part of many great memories together.

We offer these libations for great memories and fair weather and following seas….

Ring the bell. Everyone drink a toast.

“We will now perform the Re-naming.


Ring the bell—wait for silence.

“I name this ship GRATITUDE….Let it be recorded, that on this day July 19th, 2015, and forever more, this fine vessel is named GRATITUDE… May God bless her and all who sail in GRATITUDE.”

Take a bottle of champagne, shake it and spray it on the hull.

 With every toast, ring the ship’s bell.

First mate                      “First, a toast to the Captain!”

Captain                          “Next a toast to my lovely Seawyf!.”

Together                         “And next, a toast to GRATITUDE!”

Together: “Finally, a toast to all of you, with many thanks for coming today to help carry out our naming ceremony. Cheers!!”

Ring the bell.

 Once the ceremony has been completed, you may bring aboard any and all items bearing the new name of your vessel.

Party:         Insert your own fun here and enjoy your boat!!!

First Sail after the Renaming:        

First time out with the new name on the boat, luff up into the wind and drift to a complete stop, then allow the boat to sail backwards. This represents “backing over” the old name. Sailing backwards is hard – requires a good breeze, some waves usually help, and a fair amount of skill. But the goddesses and gods that are concerned with these matters are not easy to impress!   Under no circumstance should you do this under power!

If the boat is a powerboat, you may have bad luck with the new name until you have run aground three times


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