As of last night, Brocade is Brocade no longer. That was her Pacific name, while Brocade were my title sponsors. Now she is reverting to her original Atlantic name of Sedna Solo. Sedna is the Inuit goddess of the ocean. My reasoning was that if I’m going to cast my fate upon the waters, it makes sense to suck up to the appropriate divinity. And for those of a more spiritual inclination, Sedna is also the goddess of infinite supply, which is a rather encouraging thought. The last few days it really has felt like an infinitely generous universe, with a sudden upturn in people from near and far sponsoring miles, and friends here in Fremantle helping out with final preparations.
I had the opportunity to thank many of them last night. We held the renaming ceremony on the boardwalk behind the Little Creatures brewery, a mere stone’s throw from the Royal Perth Yacht Club Annexe from where I will launch on Friday.
Tradition has it that Poseidon keeps a ledger of all ships’ names. If a boat is renamed, his ledger might get in a muddle, and then the great god himself would get discombobulated. And the last thing we want is a discombobulated ocean god. So correct procedure has to be followed.
Every last trace of the old name has to be eradicated from the vessel. Then the new name is announced, and prayers made to the four winds to beg for kind conditions. The full script (as gleaned from the internet) is reproduced below. It involved much sploshing of good red wine into the waters of Fremantle, which concerned me on several levels (marine pollution! waste of money! waste of perfectly good wine!), but the gods must be appeased. Or at least it’s not worth taking the risk.
The super-green mayor of Fremantle, Brad Pettit, who has been a champion supporter throughout, came along to help with the proceedings, and was persuaded to stick around for a Little Creatures beer afterwards. (Thanks to Brad for arranging bicycles, leisure centre membership, and event license for us.) Many of my trusty volunteers were also there, without whom this could not be happening. (Too many to mention here, but you know who you are, and you know that we love you!)
Col Leonhardt very kindly recorded the proceedings for posterity. These are his photos, and thanks also to Col for this morning’s photo shoot, using the over-under camera. Col will be there again at my departure, to record the event from air, water and land, in video and stills. Watch this space for more of his stunning images!
A question: I’m not especially superstitious, but at the same time it seemed to make sense to observe due process on this occasion for two main reasons:
a) what I do is dangerous enough – no point in tempting fate further!
b) I quite enjoy the sense of seafaring tradition, like I’m connecting into a deep heritage of voyages and adventure.
What are your thoughts? Is superstition a load of hogwash, or something that should be respected?
The Renaming Ceremony (courtesy of Boatsafe.com):
Once you are certain every reference to her old name has been removed from her, all that is left to do is to prepare a metal tag with the old name written on it in water-soluble ink. You will also need a bottle of reasonably good Champagne (we substituted a rather fine Australian wine, in honour of the local custom). Plain old sparkling wine won’t cut it. Since this is an auspicious occasion, it is a good time to invite your friends to witness and to party. Begin by invoking the name of the ruler of the deep as follows:
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, implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name (here insert the old name of your vessel) which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea. (At this point, the prepared metal tag is dropped from the bow of the boat into the sea. Being NOT in favour of marine pollution, we mimed this part.)
In grateful acknowledgment of your munificence and dispensation, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court. (Pour at least half of the bottle of Champagne into the sea from East to West. The remainder may be passed among your guests.
It is usual for the renaming ceremony to be conducted immediately following the purging ceremony, although it may be done at any time after the purging ceremony. For this portion of the proceedings, you will need more Champagne, Much more because you have a few more gods to appease.Begin the renaming by again calling Poseidon as follows:
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, implore you in your graciousness to take unto your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time known as (Here insert the new name you have chosen), guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm.
In appreciation of your munificence, dispensation and in honor of your greatness, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court. (At this point, one bottle of Champagne, less one glass for the master and one glass for the mate are poured into the sea from West to East.)
The next step in the renaming ceremony is to appease the gods of the winds. This will assure you of fair winds and smooth seas. Because the four winds are brothers, it is permissible to invoke them all at the same time, however, during the ceremony; you must address each by name. Begin in this manner:
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 (Insert your boat’s new name) the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs.(Facing north, pour a generous libation of Champagne into a Champagne flute and fling to the North as you intone:) Great Boreas, exalted ruler of the North Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your frigid breath.(Facing west, pour the same amount of Champagne and fling to the West while intoning:) Great Zephyrus, exalted ruler of the West Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your wild breath.(Facing east, repeat and fling to the East.) Great Eurus, exalted ruler of the East Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your mighty breath.
(Facing south, repeat, flinging to the South.) Great Notus, exalted ruler of the South Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your scalding breath.
Of course, any champagne remaining will be the beginnings of a suitable celebration in honor of the occasion.
Once the ceremony has been completed, you may bring aboard any and all items bearing the new name of your vessel. If you must schedule the painting of the new name on the transom before the ceremony, be sure the name is not revealed before the ceremony is finished. It may be covered with bunting or some other suitable material.