Rumor has it that it’s bad luck to change a boat name. This didn’t faze us though. Peter and I knew we wanted the name of our boat to mean something special to us. We didn’t want to call her a name that someone else had given her because then it would always feel like she wasn’t ours. Also, she isn’t just a boat to us, she is our HOME filled with love and joy. Her name needed to represent something safe, something protective, and above all something dear to our hearts.
Ever wonder why ships are always referred to as a SHE?
Naval History and Heritage Command says “It has always been customary to personify certain inanimate objects and attribute to them characteristics peculiar to living creatures. Thus, things without life are often spoken of as having a sex. Some objects are regarded as masculine. The sun, winter, and death are often personified in this way. Others are regarded as feminine, especially those things that are dear to us. The earth as mother Earth is regarded as the common maternal parent of all life. In languages that use gender for common nouns, boats, ships, and other vehicles almost invariably use a feminine form. Likewise, early seafarers spoke of their ships in the feminine gender for the close dependence they had on their ships for life and sustenance.”
There’s a lot of old sayings and poems out there about why a ship is called a She. I can’t seem to find the original sources, but this is my favorite:
“We always call a ship a ‘she’ and not without a reason. For she displays a well-shaped knee regardless of the season. She scorns the man whose heart is faint and doesn’t show him pity. And like a girl she needs the paint to keep her looking pretty. For love she’ll brace the ocean vast, be she a gig or cruiser. But if you fail to tie her fast you’re almost sure to lose her. On ships and dames we pin our hopes, we fondle them and dandle them. And every man must know his ropes or else he cannot handle them. Be firm with her and she’ll behave when skies are dark above you. And let her take a water wave – praise her, and she’ll love you. That’s why a ship must have a mate; she needs a good provider. A good strong arm to keep her straight, to comfort her and guide her. For such she’ll brace the roughest gales and angry seas that crowd her And in a brand new suit of sails no dame looks any prouder. The ship is like a dame in that she’s feminine and swanky; You’ll find the one that’s broad and fat is never mean and cranky. Yes ships are ladylike indeed, for take them all together the ones that show a lot of speed can’t stand the roughest weather.” – Anonymous
Without question, we named our boat “Mary Christine” in honor of Peter’s mother, Mary Christine Pieschel. She passed away in 2012 after a long battle with breast cancer. We know she will watch over us and keep us safe as we begin this amazing journey. Although she won’t be here in person, she will be with us in spirit each and every day. After we decided on the new name, we had to follow certain steps to get everything changed over properly. We made sure to put the new name on all of the closing documents when making the purchase, and of course listed Mary Christine as the new vessel name when filing the transfer of Certificate of Documentation with the National Vessel Documentation Center (US Coast Guard).
We had heard there were ways to avoid the bad luck associated with changing the name so with a little research we found some “good” superstitions to protect us. We aren’t overly superstitious people but when it comes to a legend like this one, it’s better safe than sorry!! There were quite a few different versions out there on how to appease the sea and wind gods and purge the old name from the Ledger of the Deep but we decided on the Denaming and Renaming ceremonies described on caribbean-pirates.com. Click ‘here’ for the thorough instructions we followed. Just for good measure, we did all three of the denaming options listed.
This began with taking off EVERY item on the boat that had the old name written on it. I will say this… the previous owners did a STELLAR job of making sure they had everything labeled. I found “Hey Jude” written inside book covers, on the edges of all the charts they left us, on the cover of all the manuals, on the life jackets, and even on the propane tanks! Good thing we have already needed to refill the propane tanks and taken them out of the wet locker in the aft deck, or we wouldn’t have seen that the old name was written several times all over both tanks and underneath where they were bolted down. Permanent marker would suffice to make the existing permanent marker lettering illegible, but we tore off everything else we could physically remove.
The last piece that had to be removed was the vinyl lettering on the transom. Lucky for us, it was just vinyl and not painted on. I waited for high tide and brought my wireless Jambox out to the stern. Tunes definitely eased the monotony of this job. Its been a long time since I’ve laid out in the sun on a dock but this was the perfect opportunity for me to catch some rays so I changed into my bikini and grabbed a towel, a cold pop, my tunes, some sunscreen and a hat. I tried using a scraper but my nails did a better job. The outside of the lettering was more difficult since it was a single layer of vinyl. The center was thicker and peeled off much easier, especially on the larger letters. About a 1/3 of the way into it, I beckoned for help in fear of taking all day. With Peter’s help I was able to take some pictures and got every last bit peeled off.
She looked so naked!!! The UV damage wasn’t bad at all since there was a relatively new paint job on the hull. We cleaned the transom up with a little soap and water, and some rubbing alcohol in a few spots that still had adhesive stuck on. The next step was to continue with the Denaming ceremony to purge the old hame from the Ledger of the Deep and to send the ashes of the old name out with the tide.
24 hours later we proceeded with the Renaming ceremony and poured champagne overboard to the gods of the wind and gods of the sea as described in the link above. We were finally ready to apply the new lettering and give the Mary Christine a beautiful new look. I had researched the best way to apply new lettering on boats and decided that vinyl would suit us just fine. We could have opted for painting the name on like many people do when you have a vintage boat. This would have cost us at least a few hundred dollars though and doesn’t always last as long. Knowing we don’t plan on returning to the U.S. very soon we opted to go with vinyl which would be easier to replace if it ever got damaged. There are SO MANY places, both local and online to buy vinyl lettering and all seem to have different advice for the application. Some warn of dry applications being too hard for amateurs like us and instead tried to sell us on the wet application method which you can slide around before squeegying out the liquid to set the placement. More important for us was to find the “right” look. Most of the online sites didn’t have much for font or color options and we were getting discouraged. I spent several nights up late on the computer.
Finally I stumbled upon DoItYourselfLettering.com and I can’t even describe how awesome this site is!!! They do a lot more than just boat lettering, there are vinyl lettering options for lots of different applications. The online interface for creating your design is top-notch and by far better than all the other sites I looked at. Even if you don’t need any lettering done I recommend checking out their site just to play around with the design tools incase you can think of somewhere fun to put the letters later :) Just like the website says, Brad is the owner and he personally answered my call when I had a question about my order. Just by caller ID he knew who I was, what I ordered and all my shipping info. They guarantee their product so if you have any trouble installing it yourself they will send you a replacement for FREE!! It really was pretty easy to install though, just a little patience to make sure its level and centered, and you end up with a DIY project that looks very professional. The customer service was outstanding and the pricing is unbeatable, even with adding a border color, selecting “ready to install” and upgrading to a Premium 3M Cast Vinyl material for an additional $15. The total for both the name and the hailing port was less than $80. If you are putting the lettering on a boat, we highly recommend using the premium material since it will hold up much better in the sun and salt. We selected Scriptina for the font on the name and Century Gothic for the hailing port. If you have any questions about ordering lettering for your boat or other toys please contact us!! I love to spread the word and support great services and products when I find them so others can share the same great experience that I have had.
She is really starting to look as beautiful as we could have dreamed!! It’s all coming together now :)