The main tourism in the British Virgin Islands is all about the sailing. Famous for practically year-round ideal trade winds, these tranquil waters are one of the top destinations in the world for seamen and seawomen to get their sail on. Living on my little rock in the middle of all the action, I am surrounded by boats every day of the year.
Watching the boats come in and out of the Sound each day, I can’t help but take notice of their names. Few are intriguing, some are memorable, most are generic, and many incite collective groans in their wake. Call me petty, but I’d like to see a bit more creativity out there. I’d enjoy spotting more names that make me want to know the story behind them. Or, at the very least, less that make me want to roll my eyes and yawn.
While the appeal of a boat’s name is highly subjective and there’s no formula for what makes a winner, there are definitely a few categories of names I consider worse than others. The following is a list of boat genres that I’d personally like to see less of. Ones, I think we all can agree, we can do without.
Perhaps these types of boat names were considered wildly clever back in the advent of puns. Maybe the first time people ever saw a boat named Knot So Fast it was a laugh riot. Maybe. But now, if I can borrow a phrase from 1997, “they are played out, yo”.
If I’ve seen them once, I’ve seen them dozens of times. Such is their popularity that when I spot these pun-tabulous handles, they often have Roman numerals after them: FriendShip VII – meaning that they are the 7th+ person to register their boat in that country under that name. If that’s not a sign to branch out, I don’t know what is.
These types of names are notorious eye roll instigators. I feel almost as though my intelligence is being insulted. Please, oh please – don’t spell it out for us. Choose something – anything – else.
It’s Aboat Time
Keel n’ Time
Seas the Moment
and, eye roll if you please,
To Sea Oar Knot To Sea
REFERENCES TO THE COST OF THE BOAT
We all get it – boats cost a lot of money to buy and a continuous stream of money to maintain. Money that you could be spending elsewhere. But you’re not, because you have a boat. Hilarious, isn’t it?! Hardy har har.
Nobody likes hanging around a whiner who’s constantly reminding them of how much all this fun is costing them. Don’t be that whiner; no one will want to play with you, even if you do have a boat.
Oh, and FYI, this also includes using dollar signs in place of your “s”s.
Her Shoe Money
The Money Pit
B.O.A.T = Bring Out Another Thousand
Price-Sea (double infraction)
Acrewed Interest (double infraction)
While I realize this was a customary practice in the Days of Yore, I’d like to think that we have evolved beyond naming our inanimate possessions after the women in our lives. Let it be known that this misguided “honor” is one I never wish to have bestowed upon me. The last thing I need is to give people a reason to say things like, “I’d love to take you out for a ride on Chrissann“; “Chrissann sprung a leak”; “Chrissann sank”; “Chrissann’s portholes are covered in rust”; “Chrissann is so filthy, it’s going to take us days to clean her before we can take her out”.
Plus, I can only imagine the conversational spotlight-stealing that this would lead to, always having to clarify who/what you’re referring to – do you mean human Chrissann or boat Chrissann? The injustice of it all would no doubt drive me to violence.
My deepest condolences go out to the women with boats named after them. Though it must be noted that the vast majority I see cruising around with women’s monikers invariably tend to be yachts. In which case, I don’t actually feel all that badly for their namesakes riding around in them. Even still, there is so much potential for something more exciting.
You get the idea. Blah de-blah blah blah. We can do better, people.
GRAPHIC DOUBLE ENTENDRES
This category of boat names is by far the worst offender. I generally don’t find it difficult to refrain from having sexual thoughts about perfect strangers, but these boat names all but force me to it. Here’s some average-looking person, reading a book on the bow of their anchored boat. Nothing to see here….then….BAM!..there it is – Master Baiter. No matter how much mental focus you devote to stopping it, it’s now all you can picture and it makes you want to puke all over that person and their boat, which you now assume you’d never want to see under a black light.
For whatever reason, people who own catamarans (boats with two hulls), or “cats” for short, are the most likely to christen their boats in this genre. That fine line between “cat” and “pussy” proves too tempting for them – they usually can’t resist crossing it.
If the judgmental disgust of your fellow human beings is not enough to deter you, consider this: one day your boat may be in peril and you may need to radio for help on the ever-public VHF. Suddenly, your urgent plea is corrupted with ridiculousness as you’re forced to scream, “Mayday, mayday, this is Dixie Normous. I repeat, this is Dixie Normous and we’re sinking!” Save yourself the embarrassment and speed the response time from your Coast Guard rescue team by not causing them an inevitable delay whilst they make fun of you mercilessly.
Really and truly – let’s not overthink this. If you find that you’re trying to be funny, it’s a sure sign that you’re trying too hard. Just pick something that means something to you. Make it short, make it sweet, make it quirky, make it weird. Above all, just make it unique. And please – don’t make it FriendShip XXVI.
We humans are incredibly adaptable creatures. No matter how wonderful (or awful) a change is in our lives, we quickly grow accustomed to it and often forget what life was like before the change occurred. The same is true of island living. Things that were once novel to you become old hat before you know it.
Take, for example, the pervasive presence of lizards. I am reminded of a few years ago when I was moving into my first apartment on St Thomas. In an attempt to offset the kitschy white wicker lounge décor in my new living room, I went to remove an especially hideous painting of the landlord’s from the wall. As I lifted the seashell monstrosity off its nail, three little lizards burst out from their hiding spot behind the frame and were sent scurrying in different directions – one particularly bold soul dashed up my forearm at a concerning clip. The island-newbie that I was dropped the picture with a crash and flailed my arms wildly, screaming in a manner that can only be described as “someone poured acid on my face and now I’ll never be a teen model”.
My relationship with the lizards has since transitioned from fear, to novelty (I spent 3 years naming each and every one that crossed my path), to aggravation (their tiny poops on the walls are a never-ending cleaning nuisance), to a commonplace backdrop of my island life. Now, I am loathe to admit that I only tend to take notice of their existence when they happen to fall from a tree and land with a smack on my forehead. Even then, I snatch them up with an all-too-blasé sigh, removing them lest they make a home in my hair.
I do try to make an effort to not take advantage of the beauty that surrounds me though, as it’s easier than you’d imagine to allow the tropical wonderland slip away when you’re in the midst of the mundane detritus of daily life. I find that the best reminders always come when spending time with people who don’t live on an island. You get a peek into your world from their fresh perspective and can enjoy the reminder of how you once thought it all magical, when your brain was sharp and had yet to be rusted from the omnipotently corrosive sea salted air.
I was recently in the states attending a workshop attended by mostly stateside people. As per usual in these types of situations, it will be revealed in those initial getting-to-know-you conversations that I live on an island and my life is not normal. From there, the inevitable string of follow-up questions ensues. Among them, one of the most frequently asked has to do with transportation. It seems to blow people’s minds that I haven’t driven a car with regularity in years and instead, have to drive a boat anytime I go anywhere off my rock of residence. The way their eyes light up at the mention of a boat, I inherently know exactly what they’re picturing:
Okay, fine – so they’re most likely not picturing me as Angelina Jolie (although, it sure would be charitable of them if they could) but their minds are definitely conjuring up a similarly fantastical image. Windswept hair, shiny boat, sparkly ocean, French-stripey sailor girl shirt – the works. I know, because that is exactly how I pictured myself before I began riding around in boats all the time in real life.
But more often, arriving by boat is not as glamorous as it sounds. Unless of course by “boat” you mean mega-yacht and in that case, I’m certain it is exactly as glamorous as it sounds. Otherwise, in the average island girl’s life, you ride in a boat much like you ride in a car, except you don’t have the protection of the wind-free, climate-controlled interior. In a boat, you’re out in the elements and on your way somewhere with the hopes of arriving dry, sweat-free, and with a minimal amount of rat’s nest tangles in your hair. Sometimes it works out. Other times, the boating elements get the better of you.
On a recent trip to the big island, one of my main errand goals was a haircut. The thing I love most about getting my hair cut is that someone else who isn’t me puts in the muscle to wash, dry, and straighten the untamable curly beast that is my hair. Then, if I’m lucky, I can enjoy a salon blowout for a couple of days before I have to go back to doing it myself. As I left the salon that fateful day feeling fresh out of a Pantene commercial, I carefully swept my hair back in a loose bun and covered it with a scarf in hopes that it wouldn’t frizz on the boat ride home.
All went according to plan for about 20 minutes before the boat began to hiss and groan. I nervously adjusted my scarf as my captain/boyfriend David went to investigate. But before he could diagnose the inevitable, the starboard engine went out with a bang, jerking us to a halt. I could give you mechanical reasons for why the motor quit that day, but why don’t we just call it like it is – that boat can be a spiteful bitch and she was set on sabotaging my hair.
For the next 3 hours, we chugged home on one engine, all the while being blasted with black diesel exhaust. The wind had changed its course to just the right direction conducive for creating a vortex of smoke at the helm station, enveloping us in its sooty embrace. Not to be outdone, the choppy sea splashed over our side rail intermittently, soaking me in the face with the accuracy of a direct water gun assault.
David medicated my fury with what remained in our cooler – a tonic of sauvignon blanc and Red Stripe, when the former ran dry. This explains the only possible reason I allowed him to snap these pictures of me before I got in the shower to scrub my skin furiously in an effort to remove the heavy coating of soot that was now covering every exposed piece of my flesh.
So there you have it. When traveling by boat, some days you get to be Angelina and some days you end up looking like a pitiful Dickensonian character who moonlights as a chimney sweep. Sometimes it’s glamorous and sometimes you end up blowing a worrisome amount of black liquid out of your nose for a week. Either way, I’d prefer it if you could still picture me as Angelina Jolie.