How to christen a boat

Adventure 3 min read

The saltiest of sailors might warn you that renaming a boat is bad luck, but the sea gods will probably be cool with your boat’s new name—as long as you perform a proper ceremony first. Use this step-by-step guide to plan your boat renaming ceremony, and you’ll surely score the sea gods’ blessing.

Before the ceremony

Decide on a new name

A no-brainer, I know. But think of this as a reminder to have some fun with choosing a new name. Take a little time to reflect on the one that feels just right before you make it official.

Go through the proper channels

Once you’ve decided on the perfect name for your new boat, you’ll need to register the moniker with the Coast Guard and the DMV.

Remove all traces of the previous name

The sea gods won’t accept your boat’s new name if the old one is still emblazoned on bow. Be sure to remove any old decals or decorations from your boat before the ceremony. This includes boat swag, like life rings, cups, or greeting mats with the previous name on them.

Gather your supplies

You’ll just need a few important ceremonial supplies for the big day. First, track down a bottle to break on the bow. Your local boating supply store will likely have a pre-scored bottle (filled with sudsy water so you don’t have to waste the good stuff) on hand. Next, you’ll need a bit of sacrificial wine (or sparkling cider) to use as an offering to the sea gods. Finally, do your best to track down a leafy green branch to lay across the bow. This symbolizes safe passage.

Invite your friends and family

Special occasions like this are always more fun when you get to share them with your favorite people. So, be sure to include your friends and family in the renaming festivities!

During the ceremony

Say a quick welcome

Thank your guests for joining you to celebrate your new boat and give them a brief explanation of why you’ve gathered everyone together.

Call upon the sea gods

You can make this as low-key or theatrical as you like, depending on your style. Just be sure you hit a few main points:

  • Thank the sea gods for granting [insert old boat name] a safe passage.
  • Request that the sea gods wash away all records of your boat’s former name.
  • Ask the sea gods to bless your boat’s new name, and to grant her safe passage on all future voyages.

Make a sacrifice

Now it’s time to seal the deal. Make your requests official by sacrificing a splash of wine (or cider) by pouring a small amount into the water from east to west.

Break the bottle

Cracking open a bottle of bubbly on the bow of your boat serves to symbolically wash away all traces of her former name. As you break the bottle, say “I christen thee, [insert new boat name]!”

Be sure to pick up any stray pieces of glass from the dock. You might also want to consider wrapping the bottle in a cloth or paper bag before you break it open to catch any debris.

After the ceremony

Enjoy a first sail (or cruise) under your boat’s new name!

Now that you’ve completed a proper renaming ceremony, the sea gods will gladly grant you safe passage on your maiden voyage. All that’s left to do is enjoy a fun day on the water with your friends and family!

And there you have it! At the conclusion of this simple christening ceremony, you’ll have secured the blessing of the sea gods and erased all traces of your boat’s former name. You can now enjoy many years of cruising under your boat’s new and improved moniker.

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