It is all in the ship’s name.

The Pleiades, Fear Not 2 and Ocean Trust in the harbour.
The Pleiades, Fear Not 2 and Ocean Trust in the harbour.

Why did this captain give his boat the name ‘Fear Not 2’? And what happened to ‘Fear Not 1’? And why is a boat always referred to as ‘she’? These questions always pop up when seeing a fishing boat on the water or in harbours.

Is there any logic in ships names?
O yes, there is a lot of folklore and superstition attached to ship’s names. In Scotland, you will never find a boat name with the word ‘seal’ in it, it brings bad luck because of the mythical creature ’The Selkie’, a creature who is a seal in the water and human on land.
You don’t give your boat overconfident names like ‘Tempest’ or Victory’, that is tempting the ocean to sent forces to test the confidence of the ship and its crew.
Names change from region to region. On the Outer Hebrides, you will find boats called ‘Boy James’ and in Skye ‘Girl Josie’. But usually, the fishing boats have names like Bountiful or Enterprise, Provider, Perseverance, Fortuna. Names that give purpose to the ship like providing an income or a certain attitude toward fishing and the sea. The odd Greek god might pass along or planets and celestial signs or beaches and islands or Biblical names.

A guy painting a name on the bow of the ship.
A guy painting a name on the bow of the ship. I don’t know what Health & Safety has to say about his swing.

Does changing your boats name bad luck?
Yes, but with the proper ceremony, you can get away with it.
Legend has it that the name of every ship that exists or has ever existed is written in a tome called the Ledger of the Deep and is therefore known to Neptune, god of the deep. The only way to make sure that the changing of your boat’s name does not anger the deities is to make sure that every trace of it is erased from land and sea and therefore from their memory. Start by removing every written record of your boat’s current name, until every letter of the name is erased, whited out, or scraped off. Once this is done, celebrate by drinking wine or champagne to appease the gods. There are specific words to say which can be found on any reliable sailor’s site. Finally, you can rename your boat and safely set sail.

A ship is usually referred to as ‘she’ because the male crew stayed a year at sea and would have a closer relationship with the boat than with their girlfriends/wives. And the seaman believed that the ship behaved like a woman and had a personality of their own in the way they were handled.
Well, I don’t know what to think about that. I like to believe it means that the man had to work together with the ship and by communicating and working together they keep each other safe at sea.

What is the meaning of the names of our kayaks?
Alexanders boat is called ‘Amicus Allatus’. Translated for Latin it means ‘winged friend’ He bought this kayak in the same year his father died. Alex chooses this name as a tribute to his father who loved the outdoors and bird watching.

Alexander Gannet in his 'Amicus Alatus'.
Alexander Gannet in his ‘Amicus Alatus’.
First year Charlotte got this purple kayak named 'Pinky'
First year I got this purple kayak named ‘Pinky’
If you look really closely at the bow in the black line you can read 'Pink Buddha' written in silver.
If you look really closely at the bow in the black line you can read ‘Pink Buddha’ written in silver.

I just hope Neptune is not looking for me! I changed my kayak’s name from Pinkie (the previous owner wanted a pink kayak instead of a purple one, yeah I know) to Pink Buddha and finally to Buddha. But I never did the proper ceremonies. I just hope the name change was gradual enough for Neptune not to notice.
I called it ‘Buddha’ because my kayak knows exactly what to do in high waves. My boat doesn’t do anything, it just sits in the water and watches the waves and has no opinion about them. It really sits on the water like a Buddha. The waves are just waves, they lift me up and put me back down again.
Me, on the other hand, as captain of this vessel, have all kinds of opinions about the waves and I am not always relaxed in the boat. I need to learn from my boat and be its follower and be as relaxed as my master, the kayak, while paddling on the ocean.


Perhaps I should call my boat ‘Singing Buddha’ but I think that is stretching Neptune’s patience with all those changes.

Me and my kayak named Buddha in front of Sanday island lighthouse
Me and my kayak named Buddha in front of Sanday island lighthouse

Charlotte Gannet

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