PILOTHOUSE

Passage Maker - - Contents - Jonathan Cooper

My brother, Mor­gan, and I found in­fi­nite ways to while away sum­mer days sail­ing with our parents. For years we num­bered four, plus the fam­ily dog, Guin­ness, aboard S/V Murf. For a month each sum­mer we made this 23foot boat (named af­ter Guin­ness’ pre­de­ces­sor, a beloved English springer spaniel) our home, cruis­ing with ice-box re­frig­er­a­tion and a sin­gle porta-potty hid­den un­der the V-berth’s cush­ions. There was very lit­tle space to move, even less to find a quiet place to per­fect pre­teen mopi­ness. To make mat­ters worse, Guin­ness’ port vis­its were re­stricted due to his en­thu­si­asm for biting strangers.

Our parents weren’t crazy, though. They would gift us the oc­ca­sional overnight ma­rina visit where we could re­gain our land legs and see other hu­mans while they stocked up on supplies (and got a break from par­ent­ing). It was dur­ing th­ese times that Mor­gan and I dis­cov­ered our fa­vorite pas­time. We would grab a snack, click on our life jack­ets, and row in and out of fair­ways in search of the best—and worst—boat names.

Our least fa­vorites were the fish­ing sein­ers, mostly be­cause we didn’t un­der­stand what the names meant. Al­ways, it seemed, those boats em­ployed some com­bi­na­tion of a woman’s name and an ini­tial. Ad­mit­tedly, the im­pulse to name a boat Mary J makes more sense in ret­ro­spect. Grand Banks were of­ten a play on the mod­i­fier: Grand Ad­ven­ture, Baby Grand. Many boat names were quite cre­ative, though, and some were sim­ply amus­ing. One of my fa­vorites was a 1940s Chris- Craft that was left to dis­in­te­grate in her slip. Her name? Sans Souci, or, the French ex­pres­sion loosely trans­lated to mean, “care­free.” I’ll say.

Asub­scriber in Guernsey, Chan­nel Is­lands, re­cently gave me an idea for a way to bring back the fun of judg­ing boat names. Piers du Pré wrote us a let­ter (in­cluded in this is­sue’s “CrossTalk”) in re­sponse to Steve Zim­mer­man’s col­umn on fuel burn (“Troubleshooter,” March 2018). When asked the name of his boat, Piers re­sponded that his Flem­ing 55 is named Play d’eau, a clever ho­mo­phone of the chil­dren’s mod­el­ing clay, Play-Doh, us­ing the French word for wa­ter, “l’eau.” This clever name made me won­der if we could try to re-cre­ate those hours my brother and I spent rowing around mari­nas in search of the per­fect boat name. This time, we’ll try to do it vir­tu­ally. If you have one you would like to sub­mit, send a photo of the name and a short his­tory be­hind it, and we’ll share it with other sub­scribers. We might even scare up a prize or two for those who score points with the judges.

Safe cruis­ing,

Murf, loung­ing on our sail­boat, Aco­razado, be­fore con­sec­u­tive boats were named in his honor.

Jonathan Cooper Ed­i­tor-In-Chief ed­i­tor@pas­sage­maker.com

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