What’s in a name?

Slo Desire and First Love were chatting to each other on the radio as we arrived into Water Cay on the Jumentos. I thought I was arriving into a 1970’s soft porn boat movie. Probably not the picture either owner wanted to create when they proudly named their boats. It set me thinking that there are some farcical boat names out there. Trust me. The name Wet Dream might be endlessly sniggeringly funny to 13 and 14 year old boys. Picture me rolling my eyes with tedium imbued when meeting a rotund bloke in his late 60’s who thinks it’s top notch humour. Sorry sir, your credibility is shot even before open your mouth.

How your boat is perceived through its name is one thing. Another, more practical consideration is how a name comes across on the vhf, which isn’t always audibly crystal clear and is the number one way for asking for help. This summer we heard a boat called Layday. Well we worked out it was Layday, at first thinking it was a mayday call. Get my point here. I hold my hands up to being a dullard and stickler. If I need help, and I very much hope I don’t, unnecessary confusion is the last thing I want in such a situation.

Calico Skies. Of all the boat names we’ve come across, that’s my favourite. Apparently it’s the name of a love song by Paul McCartney. I really must look this up. I don’t know what a Calico Sky is but to me the name suggests space, possibilities, smiles and adventures. It’s actually the name of an American boat that belongs to a friend of ours, Bill who we spent time with in Bermuda. Good name choice my man. Your boat name has stuck with me.

Time has ticked by a few days and today finds us off Raccoon Cay in the Ragged Islands. No raccoons have been spotted but there are many feral goats and a salt pond that was once worked for the production of well, you’ve guessed it, salt. There’s little else man-made here. We are tucked up close to shore as the winds are a bit stronger today and won’t move until they’ve abated.

We have had a few more varied animal encounters. The first quite a gastronomic feast. Our table was filled with food collected from the sea. Conch salad for starter, followed by lobster tail and fish. Sound like a high end restaurant. Not the usual fare of a boy from a pit village and a girl from a remote part of the countryside.

Then from the security of a neighbouring boat, we watched as two massive bull sharks circled around one night. The four young kids on board screamed with excitement shining torches as the beasts cruised about under the 3 dinghies tied off at the back of the boat. These powerful creatures were in touching distance. We witnessed no evidence of any aggression, which Dave and I were quite happy about when it came time to get in our small dinghy and motor the 150m back to our boat in the dark.

The final encounter was sailing into a pod of maybe 10 or 12 resting pilot whales. Dad of two of the kids is a marine biologist so he filled us in on the behaviour we were witnessing and how to distinguish the males and the females. Ghosting along under sail, the whales unthreatened by any engines were resting. Apparently they chill out during the day as they feed at night. We watched for maybe an hour then the big male breached, which seemed to be a signal for the pod to move on as they disappeared under water.

Time for me to move on and contemplate the washing up.

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