From his coral palaces on the ocean floor, Poseidon keeps track of every vessel on his waters. His Ledger of the Deep is said to contain records of every vessel’s construction, owners, routes, cargo—and, of course, its name.
Mess with Poseidon’s Ledger by renaming your boat, and you ensure all manner of disasters and bad luck.
Apart from sheer superstition, there is a logical reason why, historically, changing a boat’s name has been frowned upon. An old boat with a new name was certain to attract unwanted attention. A change in name was an indication that a major transaction had taken place, and would draw the attention of tax officials and port authorities. It could also get the owners accused of piracy and boat theft if they didn’t have meticulous documentation.
When it comes to renaming, I’m not particularly worried about accusations of boat piracy. Assurances that I’ll be sailing in a cursed vessel, though, do trouble me.
There are ways to change a boat’s name while appeasing the God of the Sea. One ceremony that I heard of was having a virgin pee off the bow. Another involved wrapping a Bud Light in a towel, smashing it against the bow, and announcing “I now christen thee ‘Beer Thirty.’ Or whatever.”
This ceremony, I think, seems the most legitimate and the most likely to keep Poseidon happy. Plus, it involves a lot of champagne, which is never a bad thing.
Still…still, I’ll probably keep the name Der Kiel, confusing and ill-suited as it is. I’ve already got enough (minor) problems. No need to invite more.
“Now, Stephanie,” you might ask. “Stephanie. Isn’t your boat, in fact, on a lake, 600 miles from the nearest ocean or sea?”
To which I would reply, “Yes. Yes, it is.”
And you might then ask: “And isn’t Poseidon the God of the Sea?”
To which I would reply, “Yes. Yes, he is.”
And you might follow up with: “And is there any reason at all to assume that his rule extends to lakes? If so, does he only trouble himself with lakes of a certain size, or does he run dominion over any and all body of water? Does his ledger of the deep contain the pedal boats and duckies on the local pond? If I were to make a little paper boat and float it in a puddle, would I incur Poseidon’s wrath for renaming it?”
To which I would reply, “Stop being facetious, you ass.”
And you might also ask, “Even setting aside the questionable logic behind Poseidon extending his rule onto a lake, isn’t Poseidon, in fact, a mythical being whom you believe to be approximately as real as unicorns, leprechauns, and cute, nice, single, non-Mormon men in Utah?”
To which I would reply, “Of course.”
And, at this point, you might express complete bafflement as to why I’m terrified at the mere thought of renaming my boat. To which I would reply: “Well…join the club.”