Andrew and I were having a mother/son conversation recently about the lack of a name for his boat. Andrew was telling me that he feels a little sorry for the boat. He really loves it, but he feels like he is the first owner to feel that way. Even though this little Ericson 25 was well kept and clean, he just didn’t feel like previous owners had given their hearts to the boat. And he couldn’t explain why he felt that way.
I thought it probably had something to do with the fact that the boat had no name. I mean, boats just have names. That’s all there is to it. They are named ‘things’ and this name gives them a sort of consciousness that people who love boats feel in their bones. That’s why we can talk all day long about what we want in a boat, but if the boat doesn’t feel like the right one, it’s not going to become ours. Just like Mr. Right, a boat can look good on paper, but if it doesn’t make our heart throb, we’re going to walk away. It’s beyond logic. Boat lovers know this and accept it. A boat with no name is kind of like an orphan, even if it has an owner who keeps it clean. A boat with no name is sad.
The name sort of defines the vessel in a way, making a statement about not only the owner’s feelings, but about the qualities of the boat in terms of its personality, at least the personality the owner wants the boat to embody. Additionally it allows people to bond with the vessel in the same way they bond with, say, their pets (sort of). Boats require care, money, and attention and it’s so much easier to spend this kind of energy on something that you feel attached to rather than something that is simply a toy to play with. So I asked Andrew what qualities he wanted to bring out in his boat.
He had been spending quite a lot of time aboard the little boat and thought she was extra saucy with a bit of an attitude. She wanted to sail fast, but the sail plan was inefficient and pretty much not worthy of the boat’s capabilities. He thought the boat felt young and inexperienced, like no one had bothered to let it explore its limits yet. And it had an edge of danger about it, but mostly in the ‘wanting to explore the world’ kind of danger, an adventurous kind of danger. Nothing serious. He felt like he would need to keep the boat safe while it grew up a bit in this way. He felt like in spite of the boat’s small size, it had a big boat attitude. I mentioned that this could lead to trouble unless kept in check. (A fact that I know all too well.)
Later that evening he came into our bedroom, as he often will, to continue the discussion. He and Mike and I began exploring adjectives and metaphors that might lead to a name. Mike, who likes to name his projects at work, was trying to do something with the word ‘marmot’, a word which he especially likes. (Our family is a little wierd in this way. We like words.) Little, saucy, adventurous, dangerous, disgruntled (don’t know where that one came from), the list went on and it soon became clear that an animal name was needed, combined with an adjective. Sea Monkey was batted around a bit more, but it just wasn’t quite the thing. Mike suddenly blurted out ‘Danger Kitten’, and the conversation just came to a halt, because that was just brilliant. Andrew thought it was a keeper, but wasn’t quite ready to commit.
He decided to spend a little more time on the boat sailing, anchoring, bonding, and then see if the boat lived up to its name. He practiced rolling it off the tongue, saying things like ‘I’m going down to the marina to work on the Kitten’ and ‘The fuse in the Kitten blew again and I’m working on the wiring’ and ‘Danger Kitten and I are going out.’ It didn’t hurt that the name provided endless amusement when talking to his girlfriend, especially in front of her parents. My son has an excellent sense of humor.
I believe Andrew is truly in love with his boat. Now that it has personality, it’s even more apparent how much he is enjoying her. He’s practically a live aboard and I know he is already planning how far he can go with this boat. He left on Friday and has been anchoring here and there, just enjoying being out on Danger Kitten, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone. He was supposed to come home today, but called and said he won’t be home for a few more days. Let the adventuring begin! If he can bother to get home for a few days, we’ll have a christening party and look for someone to design a logo for the boat. Now, if only I could interest him in writing a blog.