May I Have the Envelope, Please?

This week our Little Cunning Plan reached an important milestone. Have we sailed across the Columbia River Bar? No. Have we anchored somewhere overnight? Well, no. Have we docked without drama? Decidedly not. Sorry.


But, oh happiness! Joy! Rapture! Bring out the champagne! After weeks of perseverating, we finally have a name for our boat. We know some people have been a little, er, frustrated at our delay in naming this vessel. More than one reader has commented to us that we really need to get around to the business of naming the boat. And it would be a lie if I said we didn’t feel a certain amount of internal pressure to get it done. But we couldn’t rush the process. That’s not how we roll around here. We wait for epiphanies to come. We may have to wait awhile, but we’re generally not disappointed in the end and this time is no exception.

All this time Mike and I have been bouncing all kinds of words and names around, hoping one would have that certain ‘ring’ to it. We played word games in the car on the way to Astoria. We created lists on our iphones. Mine had, oh, about 40 word combinations. In the mornings we texted each other names that came to us in the night. We cast our nets far and wide for this. But we just couldn’t agree on one. The ones Mike came up with left me saying, ‘Hmmm’.  The ones I came up with left Mike flat.

We need a name that will fit on the transom.

We needed a name that will fit on the transom.

Finally I decided we better get more serious about this naming business. When all else fails, reach for logic and organization, right?  We would get out the large paper easel and sit it on the table. We would make our word cloud of our favorite words and write all the combinations we loved. Then we would each make a list of our top 10 names and see where the lists overlapped; like a venn diagram, except we never got that far.

I cleared the table and got out the magic marker. Surely some of its magic would bleed into our process. We made our word cloud and our lists. I picked my top 10. When Mike could come up with only 6, I knew we were in trouble, especially since my two not-so-secret top names were not even on it. Only one name was common between our lists: Saucy Swan. We both heaved great sighs. Neither of us really thought that was the right name for the boat. Logic had failed us yet again.

For the record, until the name revealed itself  my top pick was Flying Duchess, followed very closely by Queen of Skye, and in that order only because Mike would probably eventually have agreed to Flying Duchess.

For the non-boaters among you, naming a boat is harder than naming children.  This is especially true if the boat is a Coast Guard documented vessel.  Take a look at the completely scientifically accurate chart below. Then, using the link in blue above, go to the website and look up your favorite boat names. Then come back and continue reading with more compassion, okay?

                          Child Name                                               Vessel Name
Can be complex, named after many ancestors        Must be simple, one word is best
Unique names likely to attract bullies                        Unique name is best
Name said three times = kid in trouble                      Name said three times = radio use
We also wanted the name to remind us of why we have the boat; to bring up feelings we associate with the boat and with the trip we want to take. The name needed to generate the right kind of emotional tone. So that makes it all a little more complex. While it’s important to us to go through the motions of choosing a name logically, kind of like we went through the motions of choosing a boat logically, (you know, making lists and all that) in the end it is the gut that chooses the name. And it is some kind of boat name sorcery that brings the name into conscious awareness. Just like choosing a boat. You know it when it comes to you and only in hindsight will it make sense.

This name arrived through fabric. That’s right. You’ll recall that I bought fabric to cover the cushions in the salon. I knew the minute I saw this fabric that it was perfect. It had all the colors I love, and just looking at it made me happy. It’s the kind of fabric that took me exactly 30 seconds to choose. All the cells vibrated when I saw it.  I wanted to touch it, clutch it tightly to me. This was a fabric of blue water, of bright colors, of fantasy. I would not be leaving the store without it regardless of cost. So I simply could not believe it was only 5$/yard. At that price, the universe was practically giving it to me. I should have known then there was more to this fabric than met the eye.

The glorious fabric. I could eat it with a spoon I love it so much.

I got 10 yards of it, but I needed a few more. I had bought all the stock the store had, so I had to rely on the web. I knew the designer name as it was on the selvage of the fabric. But I didn’t know the name of the pattern. carried this design house and I matched it quickly. The name of the design?


My heart gave a little flip flop. My mouth opened on its own.

“Hey Mike! You will never believe what this fabric design is called!”, I shouted from across the house.

“What?”, he yelled. I walked into his office.


“You’re kidding!”

“No, I’m not. Can you believe it?

“Wow! (Pregnant pause) That would be a great name for a boat.”, he said.

We exchanged knowing looks, energy fields crackling as one.

“Yes, it sure is.”  I replied.

The name had announced itself.  It had presence in the room. After that, the name would not leave my head. I don’t know how Mike’s head reacted, since I’m not in there and he doesn’t tend to focus as minutely on these things as I do. But each time I asked if he still liked the name ‘Galapagos’, he looked at me in that way he does when he is confused by the question. So there it is.

Yes, hindsight is certainly 20/20 sometimes. Some people dream of doing a circumnavigation.  When we dream of this big trip, we dream of going to the Galapagos Islands and then down the coast of Chile. The rest is up for grabs. We’ve talked about this lots of times. Mike has always wanted to see that part of the world.  I studied the biogeography of the Galapagos Islands back in the day when I had planned to become a marine biologist. I only this year gave away all my research papers, written on erasable typewriter paper back in the late 1970’s; carefully footnoted and annotated. I wrote about the marine iguanas. There was another one about the Darwin’s finches. Then there was one about the tortoises. I gave the papers to my neighbors who were preparing for a trip to those islands. Maybe they didn’t read them, but somehow I couldn’t throw them away. I wrote a lot of research papers during my undergraduate years. I didn’t keep them all. Only those.

When we were looking at boats, my mantra was that I wanted a boat that could take us to the Galapagos Islands and down the coast of Chile safely.  And she appeared. How dense are we that we didn’t know her name all along?

So she is named. Maybe I’ll ask my neighbors if they still have those papers I wrote. If they do, I will put them on the boat as a special talisman. I also have a picture somewhere of me sitting on a real Galapagos Tortoise back in the early 1960’s (before animal rights was a ‘thing’). I need to find that.  I have had the special champagne for her christening for many weeks, waiting in the boat for her baptism. We’re planning to bring her up to Washington over the 4th of July holiday, gods willing. We think having the naming ceremony out on the Pacific Ocean would be just about perfect.

S/V Galapagos

S/V Galapagos. Let it be written, let it be done.

42 thoughts on “May I Have the Envelope, Please?

  1. That’s awesome!! So glad that you shared… including the ‘pregnant pause…’ haha!! Love it!! Congrats!! So fun following your journey… Enjoy!!

  2. As my Mother used to say;” All good things come to those that wait”…..congratulations on naming your “Baby”.

    Mazal tov…….Rose and Gary

  3. Great name and I am sure one day not too far you will be at the place where the name comes from!! Congratulations

    • Thanks, Cheryl. I know a designer I’m going to contact about getting a logo done. We have to catch up from the bleeding of money first, though. Still, I love the idea of the tortoise who carries its home on its back.

  4. OHHH! I love it! What a great name and an even better story for it :). Awesome choice. Everytime people see the name they’ll think of some far off island and wonder if they’ll ever go or if the boat has ever been. It puts voyage on the mind.

    Congrats and I bet you both can’t wait to bring the old Gal to her new home.

    • Exactly, Dani! Yes, it puts voyages in mind completely. You totally understand! Yes, we are getting excited/nervous about bringing her up the coast. Mostly excited. I just cannot ‘think’ too hard about it.

    • Hi there, Tina! So glad you are still reading! Hope you are right that we will make it there. Now that we are ‘out of the closet’ we have to make it happen.

  5. Congrats! We know what it’s like -finding the right name can take longer than finding the right boat. It’s always neat to hear where inspiration strikes.

    • Yes, we are a little nervous about that whole ‘living up to the name’ thing. But we’ll never get there unless we intend to do so. If it takes a tortoise pace, so be in! But considering the longevity of this boat, we’re going to focus on how long-lived she is in terms of the tortoise aspect. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Cheap and Easy Boat Tricks: Covering Salon Cushions | Little Cunning Plan

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