Oystercatcher, Launching and Renaming Ceremony

Oystercatcher, soon after her launching
Having completed all the refitting projects necessary for making Oystercatcher safe and seaworthy, on July 1, 2015 I towed her from my home to a nearby boat ramp for the purpose of launching her and officially bestowing upon her the name that she had unofficially received from me long before this time.
My friend, who had previously provided much help with my stepping of the mast in the front yard of my house, assisted me greatly in the stepping of the mast in the parking lot at the boat ramp.
This was no easy task, even though we had some experience with it. It was early in the afternoon on a Wednesday. I deliberately selected a non-weekend day so that we would not be bothered by all the hubbub of weekend traffic at the ramp. On a weekend, this parking lot would have been full.
When everything was ready to go, I backed the trailer down the ramp. My friend stood on the dock near the bottom of the ramp while the Admiral took pictures from the parking lot.
At this point it was almost two o'clock in the afternoon, and it was close to low tide. This entire process - from start to finish - was a lengthy one. We had removed the tent from the boat. We'd transferred the mast from the sawhorses in my backyard to a horizontal position atop the boat and there secured it in place. We'd towed the boat to the ramp. We'd stepped the mast. We'd put the ladder, the towing straps, and other such things away; and, finally, we'd secured docklines and fenders to the boat in preparation for putting her in the water. Somewhere along the way we had wolfed down two biscuits a piece - biscuits that I had bought for us early in the morning before we had ever gotten going with all of this around nine. We of course had expected the process to go much faster, and we thus had expected to have the boat in the water at least by mid-tide. The higher the tide the better. That way there's less to worry about in terms of the trailer slipping off the end of the ramp. There's also less to worry about in terms of the tow vehicle slipping into the water, since the wet and slimy part of the ramp is less exposed.
Fortunately, despite the low tide, we did not experience any problems. Note that I'm using the "extendable tongue," an option I had paid a little bit more money for at the time that I had ordered the trailer from Road King. Without this optional piece of equipment I would not have been able to get the trailer deep enough into the water.
When the rear tires of the tow vehicle were almost touching the water, the boat at last floated free.
While I parked the tow vehicle, my friend tied off the boat and then immediately boarded her and went below to check all the through-hulls for leaks. Fortunately, there were no leaks.
Now it was time for the renaming ceremony. You hear from lots of people that it's bad luck to rename a boat. You also hear all sorts of boat renaming rituals - rituals meant to appease Poseidon or Neptune, the Greek and Roman gods of the sea. Being a classicist, i.e., a specialist in Latin, Greek, and classical antiquity, I was intrigued by the reports of these rituals, and I spent a good bit of time researching them. Like any classicist, I wondered about their origins, and I had hoped that I would find their beginnings in the Archaic Period of Greek history, when myth and ritual reigned supreme.
Poseidon (or Zeus) of Sunion, National Archaeological Museum, Athens
Much to my chagrin, I found no ancient source for these rituals. They all appeared to date to sometime in the late 19th Century, A.D. In other words, they were recent in origin. This helped to explain why so many of those who speak with such authority on the internet about the detailed steps involved in these rituals never quote an ancient source. It also helped to explain why there was no consistency between the ritualistic steps prescribed by one internet authority and another. The late 19th Century was a time of widespread interest in classical antiquity. It was also a time when many fraternities came into being. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say that boat renaming rituals to Poseidon and Neptune originated at yacht clubs and served as excellent excuses for throwing raucous parties. That's why they lack the true solemnity of ancient ritual and why they still serve as a platform for raucous parties today. If you really want to know how to irritate Poseidon and how to appease him, start by reading Homer's Odyssey.
Odysseus, National Archaeological Museum, Sperlonga, Italy
Anecdotally, I should say that my friend who assisted me has roots in the maritime and commercial fishing industries in Charleston. He said shrimpers buy and sell boats all the time, and in these transactions they change the names with ease. He'd never even heard about these rituals to Poseidon.
In my research, I came across a brief yet satisfying ritual long used by the British Navy (and I believe the United States Navy) in the naming and renaming of their vessels. It involves the breaking or pouring of a bottle of alcohol over the bow . . . and . . .
. . . the reading of these few words . . .
I liked the plain and simple beauty of it all, and with that Oystercatcher was off.
Soon thereafter she was berthed at her new home - a wet slip in the salty waters of Charleston.
This ends this posting on my launching of Oystercatcher and the renaming ceremony that I performed for her.


  1. Do you have any photos of your trailer? I have the same model ericson that I purchased two years ago, and the trailer, a dual axel load rite, is not set up properly for this particular boat. I have removed old rollers and would like to replace with a new roller system that provides solid support in all the right places. Aaron in WI

  2. Aaron, if you click on the tag "trailer," to the right, it will take you to numerous postings on my trailer.