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A new bell aboard... tradition?


My friend Jeff writes me:

I am in the process of building new masts for my 36' ketch. Immediately prior to removing the old masts, I had my daughter ring the bell mounted on the mizzen that has been with the boat since I've owned her (and I presume since she was built). That bell has now been tucked away safely onboard.

Here's my question...

I'd been given a very nice ship's bell many years ago and have been keeping it polished and clean in my cellar awaiting a boat. This bell is a more appropriate size for Sugaree, the original being fairly small. I'm already preparing for a name change (to Sugaree) with a repaint and am wondering if I'm pushing things by changing the bell as well.

I don't want to push my luck or fortune and don't know if I should change the bell, or if because of the name change, the new bell would be appropriate. I have also thought of mounting the new bell on the mizzen and the old either forward somewhere or down below. Perhaps if I bring the new bell aboard while christening a friend's new baby?

Should I change bells??


I don't know myself. I'm familiar with the routine for renaming a ship but whether Poseidon will take offense at Jeff's actions is unknown to me, so I thought I'd consult the "keepers of the tradition". The floors of the seven are littered with the remains of those who have annoyed "Himself".

Any thoughts?


War Hero
Interesting one this, normally the bell stays with the 'ship' but nothing is known about what happens if it is changed so i'd say change the bell by all means (but only one bell onboard) but do not change the vessels name unless you want to bring all sorts of bad luck down upon yourself (presuming the boat was fairly lucky before!) the saying goes "change the name and change her luck" the only time you should change a vessels name is if she has had a run of bad luck (bit late for the Titanic but you know what I mean! that is bad luck!)


Thank you, Walrus! That's the sort of thing I look for here.

Incidentally, changing the name IS a bit of a risk, but there's an accepted method for doing it, especially for an S/V.

Required: four bottles GOOD champagne
1 bottle GOOD Scotch or Irish whisky
1 small gold coin OR a picece of exquipment which bears the ships former name
2 packets alka-seltzer

1st: find ALL (and I DO mean all, including that bit of graffiti on the deckbeam that someone wrote in a fit of boredom) references to the former name aboard and remove all but the item you'll use below. Painting over names counts. Remove logbooks, charts with ships name on them, anything that has the former name and take ashore.

2nd: Ship's Master must open a bottle of bubbly (don't stint! Poseidon has a way of knowing these little things!) and pour 1/2 into the sea at the bow, then in your best King James English, implore the Master of the Depths to expunge and remove all references to the (former name of the vessel - and at this point, drop the item with the former name into the sea OR -if there's naught with the name- drop the gold coin in the sea, requesting that Poseidon accept this as a token in place of...) from his Master Logbook and to enjoin all nixies, sprites, mermen and other minions from uttering her name now or in the future. Poseidon LOVES florid speech and the more flowery you can make it, the better. (Remember, he's a bit deaf from the water-pressure, so speak up!) Take a big drink from the bottle, then pour the rest into the sea.

3rd: Next bottle of bubbly, open and pour a good drink's worth of it into the sea at the bow, the while imploring Poseidon to accept the (new name) as a true vessel under his ultimate command and that he enroll (name) in his Master's Log as such and grant her his protection as long as she sail, and also that he instruct all nixi...etc... that she is one of his vessels and is to be aided whenever necessary. Then pour the rest of the bottle (I know, a bit sticky, but you can rinse right after that) over the bow, stern and both sides at midships to "consecrate" the vessel, as it were.

Now, all aboard sit down on the deck, open the 3rd and 4th bottles and pass them about until empty, all the while saying nice things about Poseidon and his nixi...etc... until the booze is gone.

He's a fair Old Lad and this should appease him, whereas the fools who simply paint out the old name and slap on the new one keep the Coast Guard and Lifesavers in business.

Now, for a Sailing vessel, it's ALSO advisable to have two MORE bottles of bubbly (need not be quite so good)(if you're feeling adventurous) and to open and pour half/drink half while asking the Gods of the Four Winds (Aeolus and his children, Boreas, Zephyrus, Eurus, and Notus) for their protection and for fair winds whenever needed. Open the first bottle for Aeolus and another for the kiddies, drinking and pouring in the four cardinal directions, of course. (After all this champagne, you may encounter their cousin, Phartolus, so be advised.)

Now, break out the Irish (or...) and get sozzled. Rinse the deck and bows, light the riding lamps, be sure you have ventilation below (remember Phartolus!), secure for the evening and strike below for a night's sleep.

Oh, yes....

The alka-seltzer? Next morning, head up to the bow and open both packets. Take one for yourself and drop the other one into the sea for The Old Boy. He'll appreciate it. So will you.


War Hero
Oh if only it were that easy (and fun) it would be done on an (almost) daily basis -you'd never go anywhere - to pissed to let go let alone move! so you'd never know if your luck had been changed, until you fell down the ladder and broke your damn fool neck, but by this time you wouldn't bloody care!

pass another bottle, thish wuns mptie
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