Green Boating: Tips for Sustainable Sailing for Earth Day and Every Day

April 15, 2021
Garbage near the sea

This April 22nd marks the 52nd Earth Day

Sparked by the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, Earth Day has always had a strong connection to our oceans. We boaters pursue our pastime out of a love for the beauty of open waters, and we see first hand the threats they face. 

As Earth Day approaches, let’s consider these tips for sustaining our oceans.

Plastics

Ocean Conservancy reports that “Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.” Help control the plastics problem by

Recycling & Waste Disposal

It is always illegal to dispose of plastics, oil, and other hazardous wastes into the water, and food garbage and sewage cannot be released within three miles of shore. Make a bigger impact by:

  • Buying in bulk and avoiding excessive packaging 
  • Discarding waste at onshore recycling and disposal facilities 

Engines

It is more than likely that your vessel is powered by gasoline. Consider reducing your impact by:

  • Purchasing a four-stroke engine to increase fuel-efficiency and reduce pollutants and noise. Two-stroke engines will dump 30% of their fuel and oil unburned into the water
  • Preventing oil discharge 
  • Maintaining a well-tuned engine
  • Conducting maintenance on land
  • Fueling tanks slowly, using pads or rags to catch drips and spills

Sea Grass

Beds of seagrass stabilize sediments and provide a habitat for a variety of marine creatures.  Seagrasses are the dietary mainstay for manatees, sea turtles, and urchins, and these beds serve as nurseries for crab, fish, microbes, and shrimp. Avoid disturbing these areas by:

  • Checking your nautical charts for areas marked in green or Grs, indicating seagrass
  • Paying attention to tides (although some beds are in danger even at high tide)
  • Looking for buoys, which mark the boundaries of some seagrass beds
  • Reading the water—seagrass beds can appear as large dark areas under the water
  • Knowing your boat’s operating depth, to the bottom of the propeller
  • Tilting your motor out of the water and walking or poling your boat  
  • Anchoring in bare areas

Paint

When painting your vessel, use an alternative to antifouling paint, which leaches copper into the water, harming  marine life. Of course, storing your boat out of the water is the best way to protect it and the water. Dry docking and boat lifts and floats provide great protection for your boat and the ecosystem.

Cleaning

Invasive species can migrate by grabbing a ride on your boat. Keep plants and animals where they belong by:

  • Inspecting your boat as soon as you remove it from the water
  • Draining the bilge tank and anything else that holds water
  • Washing the boat completely with nontoxic products and letting it dry several days before putting in to a different body of water

Report Pollution

When you have a hazardous waste spill or see others polluting, make a report to the Coast Guard’s National Response Center by calling 800-424-8802, which is staffed 24 hours a day.

Practice these eco-smart habits throughout the year and bring the spirit of Earth Day to every voyage!


How to Fold Nautical Charts in 7 Easy Steps

March 24, 2021

When you get your nautical charts, you may be surprised by how large they are. To make them easy to use and store, you will need to fold your charts and know how to fold them back after use.

For the best results, you’ll use an accordion fold, ending with the chart face on the outside and the title block showing. This folding method is simple and will make your charts manageable and easy to identify. Watch the video below or continue reading on for step-by-step instructions.

1. With the chart facing up, fold it vertically inward so that the chart face is on the inside.

2. Take one edge and fold it back vertically, so the chart face is on the outside.

3. Flip it over and take the other edge and fold it back vertically, so the chart face is on the outside. 

4. With the title block side face up, fold in half horizontally.

5. Take one end and fold it back horizontally toward the fold.

6. Flip over and take the other end and fold it back horizontally toward the fold.

7. Turn so the title block is face up.

When using the chart, unfold just the area you want to observe and fold the rest out of your way. Practice the folding technique a few times, and you will be good at it in no time. 

See this technique demonstrated by Bob Sweet, senior navigator, former U.S. Power Squadrons National Educational Officer.

For the most up-to-date nautical charts printed on demand, visit OceanGrafix.


6 Far Away International Destinations for Fall & Winter Boating

February 17, 2021

Looking for a warm fall or winter boating adventure far away from the U.S.? This article has you covered. International waters have so much to offer, but options in the fall and winter months are limited. We’ve cultivated our top six picks for international boating, spanning off the shores of Africa and Eastern Asia to distant islands in the Pacific. 

Pack your bags for these fall and winter sailing destinations, and don’t forget to include the charts you’ll need to navigate your trip. 

COVID Alert: Safety precautions and travel restrictions are changing daily. Be sure to check with local authorities before making any plans. 

1. Fiji

An archipelago of more than 300 islands in the South Pacific, Fiji’s winter months have highs in the 80s—perfect weather for year-round boating. A trip to Fiji boasts rugged landscapes, coral reefs, clear blue lagoons, and plenty of island hopping. You can scuba dive around the Great Astrolabe Reef, enjoy striking views of Yasawas’s volcanic peaks, or snorkel around Taveuni. A four-day journey can also take you to our next destination—the Tonga islands. 

Hurricane season in this area runs from November to March, so opt for this destination for an early fall boating trip. 

Charts you’ll need for sailing around Fiji: 

2. Tonga Islands

A Polynesian kingdom, Tonga is comprised of 170 islands in the South Pacific. With a warm and tropical climate, the wintertime average high is in the low 80s. Tonga islands offer white sand beaches, coral reefs, tropical rainforests, lagoons, and limestone cliffs. Adventurers have a wide variety of activities to enjoy in Tonga—diving, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking. 

Again, the South Pacific’s hurricane season is November to March, so when cool fall temps are dragging you down, this is a perfect destination.  

Charts you’ll need for sailing around Tonga: 

3. French Polynesia

Another great spot when you’re not ready for that cool weather is French Polynesia. Made up of more than 100 islands in the South Pacific, French Polynesia is probably most well-known for the islands Bora Bora and Tahiti, which are three to four hours away from each other by boat. The three archipelagos of the area offer coral-fringed turquoise lagoons, white and black sand beaches, and waterfalls. Island guests often enjoy staying at resorts where the guest bungalows are on stilts over the water. To avoid hurricane season, plan your trip for early fall. 

A must-have nautical chart for island hopping in French Polynesia: 

4. Seychelles

Off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands. Offering year-round warm weather, it’s a great spot for travel in the colder seasons. For sailing, October and November is the perfect time to visit because it’s a transitional period when the waters and winds are calm. The islands offer sandy beaches, coral reefs, hiking, and interesting wildlife—including giant tortoises! 

Charts you’ll need for sailing around Seychelles:

  • NGA 61300: Madagascar – North Coast and Seychelles
  • SHOM 6674: Du Golfe dAden aux Maldives et aux Seychelles

5. Madagascar

Perhaps now best known from the DreamWorks movie where a sneaky group of animals escape the zoo, Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. And yes, if you visit, you will see the country’s famous lemurs. This island offers a wildlife paradise, including humpback whales from mid-June through October. The “winter months” are Madagascar’s warmest months with temperatures in the low 80s January through February. On shore, be sure to visit the rainforests of Atsinanana, Isalo National Park, Tsingy’s limestone formations, and Baobab Alley. The waters offer some of the best diving opportunities, including swimming with whale sharks.   

Charts you’ll need for sailing around Madagascar: 

6. Thailand

Head to Southeast Asia’s Thailand between November and March to enjoy stable winds, dry weather, and warm temperatures on the sea. Thailand offers limestone cliffs, rainforests, clear blue waters, and white sand beaches. Island hopping around the coast offers travelers the opportunity to explore some of the less trafficked areas of what has become a popular destination. You can also enjoy snorkeling and diving in clear waters. 

Charts you’ll need for sailing the Thailand coast: 

Looking for more? The Caribbean also offers great opportunities for winter boating. Check out these selected charts for five of our favorite locations for sailing in the Caribbean.



6 Best Winter Boating Destinations and Charts for U.S. Waters

February 9, 2021

Got those winter blues? Missing the peace, quiet, and adventure of sailing? Just because it’s wintertime doesn’t mean your boat has to stay docked. Of course, if your local waterways freeze solid, that option is out. But you can always head south for warmer waters. 

During the winter months, you’ll have fewer crowds, which can mean more enjoyable exploring for you in those typically crowded areas. Here are 6 top U.S. destinations (and their charts!) for winter boating. 

COVID Alert: Safety precautions and travel restrictions are changing daily. Be sure to check with local authorities before making any plans. 

1. Miami & Key West, Florida 

South Florida is a great spot for boating during the winter months. Bill fishing season begins December 1, and lobster season runs through March 31. Manatees are also migrating south during this time, so you have some great wildlife watching opportunities.  

Charts you’ll need for your Miami and Key West voyage: 

2. St. Andrew Bay & Panama City Beach, Florida

While the waters are a little chilly for swimming without a wetsuit, the average mid-60s temperatures are perfect for exploring without the heat. The clear waters of the Gulf make it easy to see the sea life, shipwrecks, and reefs right from your boat. Plus, fishing season is year-round off these shores. 

Charts you’ll need for your St. Andrew Bay and Panama City Beach trip: 

3. Biloxi, Mississippi

Known for its casinos, this gulf town sits midway between Pensacola to the east and New Orleans to the west, making for a great home base for exploring this area of the gulf. When on shore in Biloxi, be sure to check out the Maritime and Seafood Museum. Offshore you can explore Cat Island, Dog Keys Pass, and Dauphin Island. Sail further southwest through Chandeleur Sound to discover the coasts of Louisiana.  

Charts you’ll need for your Biloxi trip: 

  • NOAA 11006: Gulf Coast – Key West to Mississippi River
  • NOAA 11363: Chandeleur and Breton Sounds
  • NOAA 11371: Lake Borgne and Approaches to Cat Island to Point aux Herbes
  • NOAA 11372: Intracoastal Waterway Dog Keys Pass to Waveland
  • NOAA 11373: Mississippi Sound and Approaches to Dauphin Island to Cat Island
  • NOAA 11374: Intracoastal Waterway Dauphine Island to Dog Keys Pass
  • NOAA 11375: Pascagoula Harbor
  • NOAA 11376: Mobile Bay Ship Channel-Northern End
  • NOAA 11377: Mobile Bay Approaches and Lower Half
  • NOAA 11378: Intracoastal Waterway Santa Rosa Sound to Dauphin Island

4. Galveston Bay, Texas

An island city on the Gulf Coast of Texas, Galveston offers plenty of on- and offshore adventure for a winter boating trip. Nestled between two wildlife refuges, the bay provides great birdwatching. Mariners typically explore Offat’s Bayou, West Galveston Bay, Trinity Bay, and Clear Lake. On shore you can enjoy historical buildings, Moody Gardens, trails, sandy beaches, and the Historic Pleasure Pier.   

Charts you’ll need for your trip to Galveston: 

5. Corpus Christi, Texas

South of Galveston, Corpus Christi provides another great locale for winter boating. The area offers kayaking, parasailing, birdwatching, deep sea fishing, and beaches. Sail around the coasts of Mustang, Padre, and Aransas Islands or venture further south to South Padre Island. 

Charts you’ll need for your Corpus Christi trip: 

6. San Diego, California 

Sunny San Diego provides a great spot for year-round boating. The winter months have highs in the mid-60s, so dress accordingly for the sea. San Diego Bay offers wintertime fishing and wildlife watching. On shore, you can visit the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park.  

Charts you’ll need for your San Diego voyage: 

You can trust OceanGrafix for all your charting needs, whether winter, spring, fall, or summer! If you’re looking for something further away, check out our article on top international fall and winter boating destinations.



What Should Be in My Boat Safety Kit?

February 2, 2021

Ben Franklin’s observation that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is good advice under any circumstances, but uniquely and immensely appropriate for the open waters and your boat safety kit.

When getting ready for a voyage, there is no such thing as being overly prepared. When an emergency occurs afloat, help is not near-at-hand. Keeping your vessel in good operating order through frequent maintenance checks and regular vessel safety inspections is essential. But in addition to preventative measures, you need to outfit your boat with a safety kit.  

Here are four key tips for making and keeping your boat safety kit:

1. Start with a Chart

Carry current nautical charts for the waters you will be navigating. Because charts are routinely updated, check to be sure that your charts are the most recent by visiting OceanGrafix

2. Be Prepared for Repair

Assemble a collection of tools and parts for boat repairs that you are able to perform. Get to know your vessel and understand how it works. 

3. Grade Your First Aid

Evaluate the first aid items you need onboard, and don’t forget that you’ll need to store them in waterproof containers. Here’s a checklist of items to include: 

  • Personal health care items for all on board, such as medications and devices, as well as directions for use and emergency phone numbers, including poison control.
  • Medical history and medical consent forms or all on board
  • First aid manual
  • Over the counter medications for adults and children
    • Activated charcoal tablets
    • Analgesics (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen)
    • Antacid
    • Antibiotic cream or ointment
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antihistamine cream for allergic reaction
    • Antihistamine tablets for allergic reaction
    • Anti-itch treatment  
    • Antiseptic cream or ointment
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Blister treatment
    • Cough medicine
    • Eye wash
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Insect sting treatment
    • Laxative
    • Lubricating eye drops
    • Oral rehydration salt solution
    • Petroleum jelly
    • Rash cream
    • Sterile saline
    • Sugar for hypoglycemia
    • Sunburn treatment
    • Sun screen
    • Syrup of Ipecac
    • Throat lozenges
  • Emergency equipment
    • Cell phones and solar chargers in water proof containers
    • Heat reflecting blanket
    • Waterproof flashlights and head lamps with extra batteries
    • Waterproof matches
  • Medical equipment
    • Breathing barrier with one-way valve
    • Bulb syringe
    • Cotton balls and swabs
    • Dosing cups and syringes
    • Duct tape
    • Fine point tweezers
    • Instant cold compress
    • Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter
    • Non-latex gloves
    • Note pad and pencil
    • Oral thermometer (non-glass and non-mercury)
    • Medical waste disposal containers, including bin for sharps
    • Multi-tool with knife
    • Plastic bags in assorted sizes
    • Safety pins
    • Scalpel
    • Scissors in various sizes, including sharp and blunt point
    • Super glue
  • Wound dressings and injury treatment
    • Absorbent compresses
    • Adhesive bandages in assorted shapes and sizes, including butterfly bandages
    • Adhesive cloth tape
    • Elastic wrap bandages
    • Gauze pads in assorted sizes
    • Gauze rolls in assorted widths
    • Liquid bandage
    • Self-adhesive bandage wrap
    • Sterile eye dressings
    • Triangular bandages

4. Don’t Set It and Forget It

Check your safety kit regularly to be sure it is complete and up to date. Check expiration dates and replace expired supplies.  Replenish any used contents. 

Ben Franklin also advised “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  Take the time to prepare and maintain a comprehensive safety kit for your safe voyages and happy returns to port.


Christening Ships with Champagne: A Brief History (and a Few Key Tips)

December 28, 2020

National Champagne Day takes place on December 31st in the U.S.—just in time for New Year’s Eve. While sparkling wines exist in various forms around the world, true champagne comes from the Champagne region of France and has been a popular drink among the aristocracy since the 17th century.

Launching a new ship with a ceremonial beverage has a long history among seafarers. Some of the first ships built in America, such as the USS Constitution, were christened with wine or whiskey, but eventually champagne became the beverage of choice. The USS Maine was christened by the Secretary of the Navy’s granddaughter in 1890.

According to the BBC, the first royal to christen a ship with champagne was Queen Victoria in 1891, who broke a bottle of champagne against the HMS Royal Arthur. Tradition has it that if the bottle doesn’t break, it’s bad luck for the voyage.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take any chances: the experts recommend scoring the bottle beforehand to make sure it breaks. Another tip is to choose a champagne with plenty of bubbles and give it a shake to increase the pressure.

You can also purchase a specially made bottle from Galleyware, which comes scored and wrapped to ensure that no one gets hurt.

Before christening your vessel, don’t forget to choose a name for your boat and make a plan for your maiden voyage. Be sure to browse the nautical charts at OceanGrafix so you can navigate safely and commemorate the occasion!

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Get to Know Galveston Bay

December 15, 2020

Galveston Bay is located on the Gulf of Mexico in the Houston, Texas, metropolitan area. Although it’s relatively shallow – it has an average depth of 6 feet – parts of it have been dredged to provide easy access to the Port of Houston. It contains a mix of fresh water and seawater, making it a biodiverse environment that’s also one of the country’s top seafood producers.

Galveston is often associated with the deadly hurricane of 1900, but has rebounded and become a popular tourist destination—with over 7 million visitors per year. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re thinking of going sailing in Galveston Bay.

Sharing the Bay

The Lone Star Harbor Safety Committee says that Galveston Bay is one of the “most heavily utilized recreational boating areas in the entire country.” This means you’ll be sharing the water with commercial vessels, as well as recreational boaters of various experience levels.

Boaters should take care to use the Barge Lanes of the Houston Shipping Channel and be familiar with communication signals. Popular spots include Galveston Harbor, Cedar Bayou, Double Bayou, and Dickinson Bayou.

What to Do in Galveston

When you’re not out on the water, Galveston offers plenty of other attractions, including the Strand History District, Moody Gardens, and the Pleasure Pier. Keep in mind that all attractions may not currently be open, but there’s always the beach!

A little further away is NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which contains a museum and a visitor’s center, and is only a half-hour drive from Galveston.

How to Get Started

Galveston makes it easy for new boaters to get out onto the water. If you don’t have a boat and aren’t ready to buy one, SailTime lets you pay a monthly fee and gain access to a boat for the season. You can also attend one of the sailing schools offered by the ASA (American Sailing Association) or join the Clear Lake Racing group for a Wednesday Night Race. Sailboat and yacht charters are also available.

Choose the Right Time of Year

Visit during the shoulder season (October to November or March to April) to avoid the winter chill and the summer crowds. Galveston celebrates Oktoberfest in October and Mardi Gras in February and hosts a Charles Dickens festival in December.

You can learn more about Galveston on the city’s official website. Be sure to purchase the latest nautical charts to help you navigate the bay!

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Boating Sales Are Increasing During the Pandemic, But There’s A Downside

December 9, 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have put a stop to some popular recreational activities, there’s one industry that’s seeing a surge in interest: boating.

According to CBS 12 in Lake Park, Florida, “Boat sales are currently at an all-time high, while inventory is low.” The National Marine Manufacturers Association says that used boat sales are up by 74%, and 70% of dealers say their sales have increased.

Why Boat Sales Are Booming

The main reason that boat sales are booming is because it’s seen as a relatively safe, socially distanced activity for households and families. Instead of getting on a plane or going to a crowded beach, recreational boaters can escape the crowds and get some fresh air at sea – and maybe even find a remote island all to themselves.

In fact, interest is so high that dealers are running out of new boats to sell – and many popular destinations have reported a rise in demand for moorings.

The Hidden Dangers of Booming Boat Sales

Although an increased interest in boating may be good for the industry, there are some downsides to consider as well.

The director of the International Yacht Brokers Association says that “half of recent boat buyers are first-timers,” while the MarineMax dealership says that “nearly three quarters of queries online are from first-time boat buyers.” This means that more new boaters are heading out onto the water with little experience, and with less opportunity for in-person training or safety inspections.

Plus, with less inventory to choose from, buyers aren’t even waiting for the right boat for them – they’re buying whatever happens to be available, whether it’s a pontoon boat, a fishing boat, or a yacht. In many cases, they’re making the purchase online and aren’t able to see the boat in person to make sure that it’s in good working order.

How to Stay Safe on the Water

At OceanGrafix, we’re all about helping new boaters find their sea legs, but we want to make sure that safety comes first. As one marine publication puts it, “We must connect the missing links between boat sales and boating education.”

New boaters should be prepared for crowded marinas and boat ramps and should take time to practice navigating their craft on less popular waterways. They can also look for online boating classes or socially distanced in-person classes in their area.

The U.S. Coast Guard is offering Virtual Vessel Safety Checks, a remote version of their in-person safety checks that can be performed online during the pandemic.

And of course, all boaters should double-check their emergency distress signals and make sure they have the latest nautical charts for their region. Even if a vessel is equipped with GPS, boaters should carry paper charts as a back-up.

It’s tempting to jump right in to a new activity, but new boaters who don’t take the time to learn the basics may find themselves losing interest and regretting their investment.

With a little preparation, it’s possible to enjoy the outdoors while learning a new skill and keeping yourself safe during the pandemic.

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Celebrating World Jellyfish Day: Tips and Trivia for Boaters

October 29, 2020

November 3rd, 2020, marks the 650 millionth celebration of World Jellyfish Day. Well, we’re not sure if they’ve been celebrating all this time, but that’s how long jellyfish are believed to have been present in the world’s oceans.

Unlike species that prefer to stay near the surface or the seafloor, jellyfish travel up and down the entire water column to feed on plankton. Jellyfish are invertebrates – and they aren’t technically fish – with no brain or central nervous system.

In certain environmental conditions, jellyfish gather in large groups called blooms, which can have significant effects on other aquatic life and even humans. In 2013, a Swedish nuclear power plant had to shut down because jellyfish clogged the cooling system!

Although only some jellyfish are harmful to humans, it’s important to follow a few basic tips when swimming or boating to avoid getting stung:

  • First, keep an eye out for reports of jellyfish blooms in your region. For example, this calendar shows when jellyfish are forecast to appear on Hawaiian beaches; they usually turn up around a week after the full moon.
  • Next, consider wearing a stinger suit while swimming or snorkeling. These are a must in some parts of the world, such as Australia, but can protect you from the most common types of jellyfish no matter where you are.
  • Finally, carry a jellyfish sting kit on your vessel. You can purchase sprays and creams that deactivate the venom, or use vinegar to clean the affected area. Avoid using ice, freshwater, urine, or baking soda.
  • If you have any trouble breathing or think you may have been stung by a box jellyfish, seek professional medical attention right away.

Jellyfish are some of the most beautiful creatures in the sea, with their strange shapes and colorful bodies. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to celebrate World Jellyfish Day safely – and appreciate them from a distance!

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Naming Your Boat: The Complete Guide from Getting Ideas to Making it Official

October 20, 2020

Naming your vessel is a very important part of boat ownership! To help make it easier, we’ll cover the do’s and don’ts for coming up with boat name ideas, details on christening your craft, and what to do if a name change is unavoidable.

Do’s and Don’ts for Naming Your Boat

1. Keep it Short 
From an aesthetic standpoint, you want your boat’s name to easily fit on the transom, so one to two words are best. Beyond the ornamental consideration, a short and understandable name is also a necessity when making an emergency call on your onboard VHS radio. By keeping it short, you’ll make it easy for a responder to catch the name.

2. Follow the Rules 
The United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom don’t have any rules or regulations on the naming of recreational boats. However, registration requirements vary by country, so check with your regulatory agency to be sure you are in compliance.

3. Make a Tribute
Is there someone you want to honor with the name of your boat? It could be a real person, a character, or mythical being. A few common tributes include:
  • A sweetheart (just like a tattoo, be careful and certain when you go this route!)
  • A sea creature, mythical or real: Little Mermaid, Calypso, Sea Urchin
  • A special family member 
  • A hero or mentor 
4. Give It a Motto, Personality, or Feeling 
What words do you live by? Is there a certain trait or feeling you want your boat or travels to exude? These are great ways to come up with a name. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Life Motto: Persist, Carpe diem, Silver Lining, Smooth Sailing
  • Personality or Feeling: Discovery, Epic, Serenity, Peace, Perseverance
5. Have Some Fun with It 
A boat name doesn’t have to be serious. Many people like to have a little fun with it. Here are a few ideas for directions to go when brainstorming:
  • Reference your Career or Hobby: Banker’s Hours, Exhibit A, Time Out, Winning Ticket
  • Make a Pun: Seas the Day, Pier Pressure, Aboat Time, Pug Boat
  • Reference Popular Culture: Ariel, Love Boat, Margaritaville, 3-Hour Tour
6. Don’t Challenge the Sea Gods
DO NOT have the audacity to name your boat after the forces of the sea, as in Tempest, Typhoon, or Hurricane.  To do so would be issuing a challenge to nature, likely a no-win situation.

7. Don’t Memorialize a Fallen Vessel 
It’s considered tempting fate to name a boat after a vessel lost to the sea. So, again, don’t challenge the sea gods!

How to Christen Your Boat 

Once you have the perfect name, it is time for pomp and circumstance. The christening ceremony is an important tradition.
Here’s a quick rundown of the events of a christening:
  1. With your boat in the water, gather family and friends aboard.
  2. You will need two or more bottles of champagne or another celebratory beverage.  We suggest one made for christening boats (companies like Galleyware make bottles specifically designed to christen boats) and another for your guests to consume.
  3. Be prepared with a speech. Say a few words to welcome your guests aboard. Share about your vessel, where it came from, the history if it’s an older boat, and where you hope to sail to. Then, end your speech by asking for safe passage.
  4. Once you have completed your speech, pour half a bottle of champagne into the water. This is your offering for safe passage—enjoy the other half of this bottle with your guests after the christening ceremony.
  5. Next you will offer your boat a gift of appreciation for carrying all who voyage with her to safe harbors. Pour or break the bottle across the boat’s bow or another metal fixture on the boat, taking care not to damage the paint.
  6. Next place a green leafy branch in the boat to signify the safe return to land.
  7. Pass the second bottle of celebratory beverage to all gathered and toast the boat by name.
  8. End the celebration by taking your newly named vessel out on its maiden voyage.
Where will you go on your maiden voyage? OceanGrafix has a chart for every journey. Browse now.

When the Name is Not So Sweet: How to Change Your Boat’s Name

Whether a relationship attached to the boat’s name goes bad or the new-to-you boat had a previous owner who delighted in a not-so-family-friendly name (Ship Happens, Breakin’ Wind), sometimes you just have to change the name.

It isn’t a quick fix, but when it’s time for a change, all it will take is a little elbow grease and another ceremony, which must precede the christening.

First, you have to erase the old name from all memory. It will not be enough to paint over the old name, because paint can peel away, and reveal the former identity. It also will not be enough to remove the name from the boat. Remove all instances of the name from life rafts, jackets, and buoys. Scour furniture, equipment, tools, and mechanical parts. Destroy ID tags. White out the name on old ledgers and paperwork.

For the un-naming ceremony, you will need two or more bottles of champagne, a water-soluble marker, and an environmentally friendly tag. Write the old name of the boat in water-soluble ink on the tag.

With your boat in the water, gather family and friends aboard or do this alone—depending on how comfortable you are with performances. Whether you’re alone or surrounded by your favorite fellow boaters, start by offering the boat a gift of appreciation for all of the safe passages of the past, pouring half of the bottle across the boat’s bow. Pass the celebratory beverage to all gathered, and toast the boat by its old name.

Now, it’s time to give into that healthy dose of boater superstition and to appease the gods of the sea. To do this, you’ll want to recite ‘Vigor’s Denaming Ceremony’ or some variation of it. Offer the tags as proof of thankfulness and drop them into the water. To show gratitude, pour the other half of the champagne into the water.

Then, hold the christening ceremony directly after the un-naming ceremony.

Have fun with this, and may you have many happy voyages!

Where will you go on your maiden voyage? OceanGrafix has a chart for every journey. Browse now.

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