When my husband and I decided last summer to take a massive leap and buy a sailboat, we were more than green. We hadn’t even sailed a boat before. While I’d spent some time on the water, the last thing I would call myself was a mariner. Instead of spending a few weeks and a few thousand dollars on sailing classes, we thought it would be better to invest in a boat and get out on the water and try it out for ourselves.
My daughter wasn’t even two yet and her safety was our number one priority. Amelia loved the boat. We quickly learned that the only time we could really set sail was during her naptime. We’d sail in Kachemak Bay for a few hours at a time and then tuck into a cove or find a beach to explore when she woke up.
A few people thought we were a little crazy—but we are. We like living on the edge and struggle to balance our desire for stability with our wanderlust. This little 26’ boat was, so far, the best thing we’d ever bought on Craigslist. It had everything we needed—she was old but well kept, had a cozy V berth for sleeping, plenty of room for our big dog and fishing gear, and a Dickinson propane stove to keep us warm during the chilly nights. Perfect.
One of the first few questions people ask when you tell them you bought a boat is what her name is. So when people asked, we’d cringe. We’d answer with another question: Do you know the name of the terrorist group that fills our news with awful stories? Well, back in the 70’s, when she was named, Isis was just an Egyptian goddess, and a fine name for a boat. Not anymore.
The experienced sailors we had connected with to ask questions said they would not have even bought the boat when they saw the name. We would use our call numbers when calling the harbormaster and didn’t even replace the “I” when the sticker fell off, leaving a sad, small “SIS” on the hull. It had to change, and we started doing our research.
We read blogs online, talked to friends with boats, and asked everyone what myth they had heard about renaming a boat. The list is long— and most scenarios end up with death, drowning, and destruction. Everyone said not to do it. Until they heard the name of our boat: “Oh, wow. You have to change that.”
Naturally, we found the help we needed on a few incredible blogs, and we decided to take another leap and rename Isis at the end of our sun-soaked, adventure filled summer. The renaming ceremony would happen mid-September.
When we left the harbor that day, we were both in our Grundens gear. It was pouring sideways. It had been raining for days but we were determined to get this done. Per our research, every item that bore the name of the boat had been removed or blacked out with a Sharpie. My daughter went down without a hitch in the cabin and we prepared for the ceremony, which included a very lengthy and involved speech and lots of champagne. We set the main sail, but motored to the middle of the bay because there wasn’t any wind.
Details of the ceremony will remain between us and the ocean – but we did call upon Poseidon and the rulers of the winds as we had read about. And suddenly, everything started to change. With each passage I read, the rain lightened. By the end of the ceremony and 3 bottles of champagne later, the clouds broke and there were holes of blue sky above us. We shed all the extra layers of clothes we had left the harbor wearing and sat in silence, soaking in the moment.
Just then, a whale spout erupted out of the water on the portside of the boat – so close you could smell it. Then another, and another off the bow, and we realized we were surrounded by humpbacks and Poseidon was accepting our newly named boat. We sailed slowly around the bay for hours, enjoying the whales and savoring the magic we felt around us.
When we got back to the harbor, we applied the decal bearing her new name: Sweet Meliss.