Giving Her a Name

Before she was ready to float, for a long time I intended to name her Satori, a Japanese word meaning, in simplified terms, “an enlightenment experience.” She would be the vehicle for my life–long dream of an ocean passage and island cruise, a voyage to explore a whole new chapter of my life. Of course — because no one has ever written a book about his sailing voyage (cough, cough) — I’d write a (best-selling) book about it, and Sailing Satori would be a great double–entendre title.

I did not name her Satori, though, because with all of the work came a new meaning to “enlightenment experience” . . . Don’t get me wrong: rebuilding the boat has brought me great satisfaction. The “learning experience” of rebuilding her is not what soured the name.

First, I learned that the sailboat that perished in the infamous 1991 Perfect Storm was named Satori; then some friends cruising in the Caribbean emailed me that they had already noticed at least a half-dozen other sailboats by the same name.

So, while in the heat, sweat, and dirt of the boatyard, I considered naming her ISLA GIATT (It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time), or maybe SCAATY (Still Crazy After All These Years). No, these wouldn’t do: not enough positive spirit. I considered StoryMaker, but I’d seen that on another boat. Or Windclimber, an idea from a passage in Richard Bode’s First You Have to Row a Little Boat; no, Vega’s aren’t dogs, but they’re not known for excelling to windward.

Some friends suggested something more indicative of my personality, more so than the boat’s, like maybe S.S. Nuckenfutz, or simply Orrsisazz. Uhm, no; the Coast Guard might object to hearing that over the radio.

One thing was for certain: the old name, Beatrice, had to go. I brainstormed, asked for suggestions, and made long lists of possibilities. I was real, real close to naming her Susurrous or Susurrant (the musical sound of gurgling water), but I was reminded that a boat makes that sound not only when under way but also when she’s been holed and is going under.

Finally, I went back to the name I had given to my first keel boat, Kala Nag. Many years ago, too many years ago, in high school I had read Kipling’s poem Kala Nag, and one line in it struck a chord in my teenage dreams. Way back then, I thought THIS would be a great name for a boat and if I ever get an ocean-going sailboat, THIS is what I’ll name her! So, I did, and my first keelboat was a great boat, but not quite right for me. Now, the Vega feels right. She is my Kala Nag, the symbol of my claim to a better lifestyle and the vehicle to carry me there.