This article was originally published in the September 2021 issue of 48° North.

Some things just can’t be rushed.

So it was with the renaming of our boat, the vessel formerly known as Meridian. We knew when we bought our Passport 40 way back in 2012 that we wanted to rename it, but finding the right name proved elusive — so much so that it took us more than nine years to do it. Naming a child would have been easier.

But a boat doesn’t need to be (and often isn’t) bestowed with a person’s name. It could be named almost anything — a phrase, a place name, an inside joke. There are endless possibilities, which just complicates things. We knew we wanted a name that was easy to pronounce and spell so we could avoid potential issues when communicating with, say, the Coast Guard during an emergency, or even when contacting a marina.

Puns were clearly out. There’d be no Aqua, Seas or Knot anything. We wanted something unique and boaterly but short and simple. We loved the name of our previous boat – Three Sheets, after the boating news website we founded in 2009 (which merged with 48° North in 2020) but it seemed odd to give our Passport the same name, and Three Sheets 2 sounded confusing. Being typically superstitious sailors, we figured it might also be bad luck. We considered the boat’s original name, Sea Star, but it had no special significance for us.

We thought about naming the boat Christopher Darryl after our late brothers but decided it sounded like a fishing boat. And I didn’t want to have to explain the sad back story every time someone asked — both of our brothers died prematurely of terminal illnesses, Darryl of ALS and Chris of cancer.

The only serious contender was Come From Away, an expression my brother picked up during his two decades of living on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, a place with a rich culture and colorful colloquialisms. It reminded me of Darryl and sounded a little romantic, evoking a journey from a distant land — a nod to our long-distance sailing aspirations. But I knew people would probably assume it was named after the hit musical of the same name. So we ruled it out.

One day, and I can’t quite remember when or how, it came to us. Rounder. It’s a term that shows up in the old-time American music we love, in songs by artists ranging from The Carter Family to Waylon Jennings. It refers to a person of ill repute, someone who makes the rounds to watering holes — or as Merriam Webster puts it “a dissolute person: wastrel.” We are, after all, sailors.

To us it also connotes sailing around, or to slightly tweak the well-known phrase from “The Wind in the Willows,” messing around in boats. It felt perfect. So Rounder it would be.

Since it had taken us almost a decade to settle on a name, the well-known boat renaming ceremony many people use didn’t seem right. For one thing, it felt stuffy and antiquated, with its talk of ministrations and munificence and exalted rulers.

More than that, it felt impersonal. Our boat had seen us and our kitty, Lily Winston Churchill, through almost a decade of cruising and summers living-aboard. She’d taken us safely to Southeast Alaska and back and all over the Salish Sea. She’d been there through deaths, job changes, and a stressful house sale. She’d been our refuge during the terrifying early days of the pandemic, a cocoon in a world turned upside down.

She’d kept us safe, and we’d loved her in return. She deserved a ceremony that reflected everything we’d shared and our future dreams for her.

We’d chided ourselves over the years for our inability to come up with an appropriate name. But when we finally found it, the time was right. We’re nearing the end of an extensive refit that has included replacing most systems and recently, repainting the hull and redoing the exterior brightwork. Over the years and many hours of work, our Passport 40 morphed from Meridian into something else — a boat thatfinally felt like ours, one that needed a name we chose specifically for her.

Once we settled on Rounder, the time to rename her became clear. It would be at our first group raft-up since the pandemic started, at the annual July 3 gathering on Liberty Bay, just a few hundred yards from the Poulsbo marina where we first saw our boat nine years ago.

Under a cloudless cerulean sky, friends floating off our stern with cold drinks in hand, Marty read the words he’d written while Lily napped contentedly nearby.

Below is our ceremony. Feel free to borrow, take inspiration, or otherwise make it your own.



On behalf of everyone who has ever sailed on this boat and everyone who will ever sail on this boat, we call on the gods of the sea and winds to ask for their approval to rename this fine vessel.

To Neptune, king of all the seas, and Aeolus, god of the winds:

Thanks for keeping this boat safe since 1984.

Thanks for keeping us safe since we bought her in 2012.

Thanks for the great and lifelong friendships we have made.

Thanks for the wonderful sails we have had, with perfect winds.

Thanks for the access to nature and the amazing wildlife we have seen.

Thanks for those seemingly endless warm summer days spinning slowly at anchor.

Thanks for cozy, rainy days spent reading down below.

Thanks for the incredible sunsets that remind us just how beautiful this world can be.

Thanks for the hours spent hanging out in the cockpit – dreaming about where we will one day sail this boat, the people we will meet, the cultures we will explore and the adventures we will have.

Thanks for keeping me out of trouble by giving me boat projects to mess around with.

Thanks for making our marriage even better by giving us something in common that we truly love to do.

And thanks for letting Lily Winston Churchill dream of catching a great blue heron and otherwise living her best kitty life aboard.

In general, you have helped make our life so much richer and more interesting that we can’t imagine not having a boat in our lives.

So we gather today to ask you a favor — we’d like for you to strike the old name of this boat from your eternal records.

We’ve done our best to get rid of that name from this vessel, but nobody is perfect.

To honor you in striking the old name from the books, I’m pouring out some fine rum for you to enjoy from this holy vessel — a Sloop Tavern shot glass. Here’s a shot for you, Neptune, and a shot for you, Aeolus. *

Now, we would like one more favor: to grant us permission and approval to use our new name, and to continue to grant us all the incredible gifts that we have enjoyed in this boat so far, and for as long as you allow her to sail on your seas and to move by your winds.

We are fortunate to be surrounded by so many of our wonderful friends. And I ask all of you to join us in christening this vessel.

With your permission, I name this boat Rounder. Long may she bring fair winds and good fortune for all who sail on her. **

*  Pour two shots here. We used 12-year Flor de Caña rum.

**  This is the time to pop some bubbly, pour a little on the bow and toast your newly christened vessel.