Does Renaming A Boat Really Bring Bad Luck?

We Avoided the Curse by Following Every Step in This Boat Renaming Ceremony

This page was updated on Apr 20, 2021 12:50 PM

Most people have heard that renaming a boat is bad luck.  Apparently, this results from failing to advise the deities that rule the elements and the sea. Fortunately, there is an official boat naming ceremony that allows you to notify the powers that be, and keep things right with the universe when renaming a boat.

January 2015 - Warnings that Renaming a Boat Brings Bad Luck

In a few weeks, Neşko will begin a significant transformation - including a change in legal ownership, registry and name. There are agencies that take care of mountains of paperwork required by the government to document these changes. Fortunately, all I have to do is provide some information, pay the fees, wait a few weeks, paint the new name on the side of the boat and VOILA - done!

Every time I tell someone that I'm planning to change Neşko's name, they regale me with horror stories. Tales of ill-fated boats whose unsuspecting owners  faced disaster after disaster. Well-maintained boats developed terminal engine problems. Firmly anchored boats drifted into rocks and sank. Small boats developed big leaks. And big boats tipped over in perfectly calm seas. Yikes - changing the boat name might be a bigger issue than I first thought!

Thanks to the Internet, I learned that renaming a boat CAN be bad luck. Apparently, this comes as a result of failing to properly advise Neptune (god of the sea, AKA Poseidon) and the deities that rule the elements of the upcoming change. And, the penalties appear to be severe - much more severe than fines assessed by any governmental authorities.

Fortunately, the Internet also described several boat renaming ceremonies that can be followed to ensure the Ledger of the Deep is updated correctly, thereby avoiding such potential disasters:

May 2015 - The Boat Renaming Ceremony

  1. To begin, remove everything with the old name from the boat. EVERYTHING. Life buoys, dinghy, log books, charts, everything. All traces of the old name must be completely removed. EVERYTHING!
  2. Next, write the old name on something that will sink. (There was some confusion here - some references suggested using water soluble ink, and others insisted on using insoluble ink.  For safety, I did one of each.) Drop the item into the sea while asking Neptune to remove the boat's old name from his records. This is usually done in front of witnesses, and usually involves some sort of libation - which must be shared generously with Neptune!
  3. A day (or more) later, you can hold the boat new naming ceremony. (I assume the one-day delay allows for Neptune and his administrative staff to complete their paperwork.) This ceremony is the big one we've all seen on TV. Everyone in their finest outfits, a bottle of champagne smashed on the hull. There are speeches, invocations to Neptune and the winds, clapping, and sometimes the Queen of England and other assorted royalty are in attendance. Of course, it also involves libations - for guests and gods alike. The Internet warns again, don't be stingy with the drinks - be sure to share with Neptune!
  4. Items with the boat new name can only be brought onboard AFTER the boat naming ceremony is complete. And nothing with the boat old name is ever brought back on board. EVER!

We diligently followed all the steps and had a pretty major celebration in early May 2015, when we relaunched "Arkadaslik" and safely cruised to Rhodes with nine wonderful guests for our inaugural journey on the newly named boat.

Update - March 2021 - We Seem to Have Avoided the Curse when Renaming Our Boat

We've had a few onboard hiccups since then, but, for the most part, the boat now known as Arkadaslik has kept us safe and sound.  I think it's fair to say "we're believers"!