Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sea Shepherd and their trouble with the ladies

In recent developments for Sea Shepherd, a few legal chickens (perhaps even a Tofurkey or two) have come home to roost. The flagship Steve Irwin, captained by Paul Watson, has been detained in Scotland against an approx. USD $1.4 million bond, while a Maltese fishing company launches a civil suit claiming damages after being attacked by Sea Shepherd last year.

My personal dislike of Paul Watson and relative fondness for sailors (hello boys!) aside, I do know a thing or three about ancient and modern maritime conventions. While much of how Sea Shepherd comports itself bothers me, something that really bothers me is their profligate renaming of their vessels. Do they even have a vessel that they haven't renamed?!

Originally named Westra, Sea Shepherd renamed it on purchase to Robert Hunter and then to My Steve Irwin, after the Australian conservationist's untimely death. The Farley Mowat, which had various names before Sea Shepherd taking possession, was then Sea Shepherd and then Ocean Warrior before its current handle was bestowed.

One of their trimarans was variously named things ending in Adventurer, before being re-named Gojira then My Bridgitte Bardot.

Then of course there was the ill-fated trimaran Earthrace, which was renamed Ady Gil before being deliberately scuttled by Sea Shepherd after they ran it into a Japanese whaling vessel.

Thats alot of renaming. Renaming a vessel is not something to be done lightly. Its generally regarded as bad luck to rename a ship, for two reasons of un-contestable superstition: A vessel is, firstly, and always, female, so some of us tend to look fairly dimly on masculine names, although it is a widely accepted practice. Like any woman, a ship does not appreciate being renamed, and a lady won't necessarily respond to whatever you decided to arbitrarily change her name to. (As I discovered after bestowing the nickname "Dr. Boobzilla" on a particularly irksome intern.) Secondly, the belief was that in Neptune's ledger of the deep is recorded the name of every vessel to sail, so to change a vessel's name requires convincing the Big Guy to go back over his paperwork. If he's anything like me, that makes him cranky.

Additionally, changing a vessel's name to something that could be construed as a challenge (E.g. "Unsinkable", "Best Boat Ever" or "Liquid Asset" all spring to mind as particularly unwise choices) would positively invite disaster.

If you have the misfortune of buying a boat with a particularly loathsome name*, renaming it once is O.K. The maritime superstition police over here at the Daily Suppository will consider that acceptable, as long as the proper formalities are adhered to. However, to continuously rename a vessel you have already renamed since taking possession, is insulting. To the ship, obviously, not to the rich person you are sucking up to by doing so.

If I was the Steve Irwin I would be pretty pissed at someone right now.

* Including, but not limited to, medical names such as "Biopsea", "Boatox", "Bow Movement" or for the budding pathologists out there "Autopsea".

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