A boat christening ceremony is a fun way to introduce your boat to friends and family and we always encourage our friends and clients to do a proper ceremony in keeping with tradition to ensure safe passages for of the crew and the vessel. Sailors of old were very superstitious and even today we heed their warnings of bad luck at sea!
Ancient sailors believed in various superstitions to improve their chances of survival at sea. Today, most of these beliefs / superstitions are considered outdated, but many modern sailors continue to observe some of the traditions like the christening and naming of a boat. A proper christening ceremony will make you and your boat part of a nautical tradition rooted in ancient times, not to mention, safety and good luck at sea!
Note that the christening is different if your are renaming a boat. See our boat de-naming and re-naming ceremony.
How To Perform The Catamaran Christening Or Boat Naming Ceremony
Make sure you have the following ready:
- Invite your friends and family to join you for the ceremony
- A branch of green leaves. It symbolizes safe returns of the vessel. There is no specific requirement for the type of leaves that we know of, although bay leaves have been mentioned in stories of old. We have used all types of branches depending on where we are and what is available
- A pre-scored christening bottle with containment bag to break on the boat (Westmarine sells them) or just any bottle of wine or champagne that you prefer
- Red wine, champagne, or sparkling cider (to drink). The traditional drink during a christening is red wine. Captains used red wine to make a sacrifice to the sea gods and to celebrate with a toast. If you prefer cider or something else, go for it!
- A short poem about the boat or use the ceremony below. Christening ceremonies consist of saying a few words about the boat, toasting to the honor of the new boat’s name and then breaking a bottle of champagne against the boat’s bow—or pouring the contents onto the bow.
- A name for your boat
Boat Christening Ceremony
Invite everyone to the christening who is important to the boat.
Distribute champagne glasses to all the attendees and fill them up.
Get everyone’s attention and now say:
“For thousands of years, we have gone to sea. We have crafted vessels to carry us and we have called them by name.
These ships will nurture and care for us through perilous seas, and so we affectionately call them “she.” To them we toast, and ask to celebrate (the name of your boat).”
Then everybody raises their plastic glass filled with champagne and shouts,
“TO THE SAILORS OF OLD? TO (the name of your boat).”
Everybody takes a sip. Now Continue:
“The moods of the sea are many, from tranquil to violent. We ask that this ship be given the strength to carry on. The keel is strong and she keeps out the pressures of the sea.”
Again the glasses are raised, and the assemblage shouts,
“TO THE SEA…TO THE SAILORS OF OLD…TO THE SEA!” Everybody takes another sip.
“Today we come to name this lady (name of your boat), and send her to sea to be cared for, and to care for the (name of your family) family.
We ask the sailors of old and the mood of God that is the sea to accept (your boat’s name) as her name, to help her through her passages, and allow her to return with her crew safely. ”
Again, with the raising of the glasses:
“TO THE SEA…TO THE SAILORS BEFORE US…TO (the name of your boat).”
A last, long sip by all.
Now pour champagne over the bow to appease King Neptune and lay a branch of green leaves on the deck to ensure safe returns.
Fair Winds, Safe Sailing, and Godspeed!
When NOT To Christen Your Catamaran
The sailors of old were all about hedging their bets to ensure a good passage. Certain days were considered unlucky to be on the water because of significant religious events and the christening of boats were never done on one of the following days:
- The first Monday in April is the day Cain slew Abel
- The second Monday in August is the day the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed
- Thursday is Thor’s day, the god of thunder and storms. It probably is a bad day to be on the water and face the wrath of Thor!
- Friday is considered unlucky because Jesus was crucified on this day
- 31 December is the day on which Judas Iscariot hanged himself
Superstitions About Boat Names
According to myth, every vessel’s name is recorded in the “Ledger of the Deep”, which is Poseidon’s (the Greek god of the sea) personal record book. So, to stay on Poseidon’s good side, name your vessel properly. The rules for naming a boat and boat name superstitions are part of the fun and history of boating.
- Seven letters in a name will ensure good luck, as will three of the letter “A.”
- A vessel named after one that has sunk (Titanic), or after a storm (Hurricane, Cyclone), or an evil character (Judas) is sure to bring bad luck
- Don’t give a vessel an arrogant or brash name (Sovereign of the Seas, Winged Victory, Victory, Millionaire), or Poseiden himself might be angered.
- It’s bad luck to sail on a boat without a name.
- It’s bad luck to rename a boat (unless the proper name purging and renaming ceremonies are performed)