Naming names

Boat names have all kinds of history associated with them. People choose names to honor their sweethearts, to be funny, to stand out. When we purchased her, our boat was named “Brothers’ Bliss,” although it’s clear from the paperwork that wasn’t her first name. (We actually have a stash of cheap Mae West PFD’s labeled “French Kiss.” Really?) We didn’t feel too bad switching that one up, and “Milou” had been the plan for a long time.

Our boat's namesake, modeling for biodegradable poo bags.
Our boat’s namesake, modeling for biodegradable poo bags.

Back when Michu and I were first dating, we ran into a friend who’d recently circumnavigated. Now, I don’t remember this whole conversation, but Michu claims that over dinner later, he asked me what I’d name my boat if I were planning to go cruising, and I’d immediately come up with “Milou.” In the original French version of the TinTin comic books, TinTin’s dog, Snowy, was named Milou—a loyal friend who always helped him out of scrapes, and occasionally got drunk. The name also has the advantage of being easy to spell out to the Coast Guard—Mike, India, Lima, Oscar, Uniform. That was about twelve years before we bought our boat, but the idea stuck.

Independent kid on a kayak, South Manitou
Independent kid on a kayak, South Manitou, seeking shiny things

That’s not our only naming convention around here, however. There’s the rest of the fleet: The Wee Scunner, our inflatable dinghy named for an epithet from a Terry Pratchett novel; the Niffler, F’s kayak, named for the magical creatures in the Harry Potter novels who are so good at finding treasure; and the rowing dinghy, Wee Jock (full name: Not-As-Big-As-Big-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock), from the same Pratchett novel.

Vasili. Sounds Russian, actually French.

The stove is named Vasili. When you use the stove, and then set a hot pan on the stovetop with the flame off, the stove manages some alchemy of heating and cooling that causes it to make a huge pinging noise. It sounds disturbingly like the rigging has failed, but it’s just the stove. So obviously, The Hunt For Red October runs through our minds every day: “One ping, and one ping only, Vasili.”

We finally got our autopilot up and running a few days ago, and it is LOVE from all quarters—so much less tiring to not have a hand on the wheel, even when the sailing is great. We’ve named it Cogsley, after a robot from the Amulet series of graphic novels; slightly grumpy and sarcastic, but extremely competent. We feel that our autopilot would have no patience for the erratic courses that we sail when we are tired or distracted, but will take over and do a much better job. Except for the time Cogsley somehow failed to anticipate that one huge puff that knocked all that stuff out of the galley. Up your game, Cogsley. Sheesh.

The engine shall so far remain nameless. It’s for the best.

5 Comments on “Naming names

  1. I love the names, so many good ones from such great books. Boats are so full of character, sailboats especially. How could they not develop names?

    • Joy–Kids are totally sucked into Swallows and Amazons. My evil plan has worked!

  2. Hi Deb and Michu,
    Just catching up on your blog- love it. Congratulations on getting out the door and on your way! Sounds like you’re settling into life on the boat. Two more months and it will feel like you’ve lived there forever. Enjoy those dunes and beautiful Great Lake sunsets. Aaaaahhhhh. We just finished a two-month bike trip and your stories of repairs/daily grind/ kids/ organization/ living on small budget in way too small of a space with two-pre-pubescent humans seem hilariously similar! But so worth it.
    Sending you all a big hug and a toast (earthy Croatian red?). We’re living vicariously through you.
    Kristina and Crew, somewhere in Croatia.

    • So funny that we’ve arrived in a similar place! We’re headed into Canada in the next day or two and thinking of you guys.

  3. I am loving reading your stories and being in the journey with you! This is going to make a great book one day! Sail on!

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