What’s in a name?

I remember as child being fascinated with the story of how I got my name.  How and why did my parents choose it? What does my name mean?  Later in life, when we were expecting, we spent a LOT of time discussing names for our soon to be born bundle of joy.  Names are so important!  And it turns out, boat names are not a lot different, and we seem to be spending more time brainstorming and discussing ideas for our boat name.

Megan and Nick O’Kelly did a great video about boat names a few weeks ago (you can watch that here) and it was interesting to see why people names their boats what they did.  It didn’t seem like anyone named their boat after a second wife or something like that, people were choosing names that had some meaning to them.  For example, one boat was named “Second Star” after a line in Peter Pan that gives directions to Neverland.  Jason and Nicki Wynn, of ‘Gone with the Wynns”, named their boat Curiosity, because that’s what drives them to explore the world. (check out their website Gone with the Wynns).

On the practical side of buying a boat, we’ve heard many live-aboard owners discuss the importance of having a boat name ready to go.  Once you have the boat is yours, you need to get busy registering the boat… which requires a name.  You need to decide if you will keep the boat name or christen it with a new name.  Very little registration paperwork can be completed without the boat name, and it’s an important decision.  Another consideration is saying the boat name over the marine VHF radio when arriving at a port.  The harbor master will need to understand what you say, and be able to spell the boat name, in any language!  That makes something like S/V Hulkuma (the Estonian word for wander or roam) a bit problematic.  A common word of advice is that the boat name should be short, easy to say, and easy to spell.

So, what are we thinking?  We have talked a lot about our why… why are we doing this?  What do we hope to change? Or see? Or become?  One of Sandy’ favorite quotes is by Tolkien, “Not all who wander are lost”.  S/V Great Wander doesn’t quite fit the bill for a boat name, too long and maybe too obvious.  We started getting nerdy and looking for the Elvish word for Wander, something that Tolkien would approve of. But alas, there isn’t a standard English to Tolkien Elvish dictionary out there.  We found a few ideas, but they just didn’t ring true for us.  Next, we started to look at other languages for the word wander… and, not surprising, in most languages… wander translates as wander!  The German word for wander is wander (pronounced van-der), just not what we are looking for.  We stumbled across the Latin word for wander, which is errant.  Then I looked at the other definitions for errant.  One of them really jumped out at me.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary,

errant /’erənt/

1 formal, humorous: Erring or straying front the proper course or standards

2 archaic, literary: traveling in search of adventure

What exactly is the PROPER course?  Where did the social mores that guide our beliefs about the proper course for middle class America arise?  A former student, now in her 30’s, travels the U.S. in van picking up work here and there when she needs money.  I’ve heard statements about her ranging from, “I bet her parents are disappointed”, or “I wonder when she’ll settle down”, to, “You can’t tame a free spirit like her”.  She’s a beautiful young woman, experiencing life, and very happy.  I would argue that she is on the proper course, albeit not a traditional course.

Back to the definition of errant.  Both definitions definitely fit this adventure.  Without a doubt we be straying from the traditional course of doing things.  We are considering doing something that not a lot of other people do, and in part, that’s why we are doing it.  So, S/V Errant is starting to stick.  We’d love to hear your ideas too… what would you name a boat and why?

Here are a couple of practical updates.  We are fast approaching the end of the school year.  Our oldest son is graduating from high school, Sandy will be leaving her current job, and we are looking forward to summer and a change of pace from the regular routine.  Selling things has slowed down some too.  It’s been a bit much to try and manage that, graduation, getting ready for a career change, spring cleaning… you get the picture.  We have scheduled our first sailing lessons for this summer.  We are also signed up for our first scuba class. Throw in 3 Spartan races, backpacking and camping, and a trip home… it’s going to be a great summer.

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