The BINARY Files

Take a look at the Owners Registry page, and you will see a lot of interesting boat names. One of the many fun things about running this site is finding out where all those names came from and what they mean. Boats' names speak volumns about owners, their outlook on sailing and life in general, and their relationships with their boats.

Naming your boat is one of the early steps in boat ownership. With new boats, you start with a clean slate; with used boats, you have to decide whether to keep the name or change it. Mine was the second case. I thought long and hard about it and I think it took a year before I made a decision.

Binary is sort of a funky name. What could it possibly have to do with sailing? Pat, the previous owner, is a computer programmer. I think he started programming when they used nothing but ones and zeros. He saw a list of binary numbers and their decimal equivilants in a magazine. The list formed a triangle, under which the author drew a hull and called the result "The Binary Boat". Pat liked it and he christened his new boat Binary.

I have named a few boats in the past. The first ones were whitewater canoes and kayaks. My (at that time) wife had a little racing kayak called a Slipper. I had a bigger, more mainstream kayak by the same company. My boat was so much bigger than my wife's Slipper, that I decided to call it Overshoe.

I also had a decked whitewater canoe. It looks like a kayak, but you paddle it like a canoe. I got it from a couple of guys who borrowed the designer's mold with the idea of building a lightweight race boat. They didn't know what they were doing and the result was twice as heavy as intended. I started paddling it, but I had trouble rolling it up when I flipped and I also had trouble getting out of it when it was upside down. So when big waves tipped over my big heavy boat I would scramble around trying to save myself. With this scenario in mind, I named it Posieden, after the boat in the movie.

The next boat I named was a Sunfish, my first sailboat. My sister bought it new. She was towing it to the lake one day when a new driver ran into it. Her insurance company was going to scrap it, so I bought it for spare parts for my wife's Sunfish. Then I decided to fix it and it came out well. Since I gave it another chance at life, I called it Second Wind.

My sister bought a used Force5 with the insurance money. She sailed it a little, but it was just too tender for her. She wanted to swap boats and I jumped at the offer, but she placed one condition on the transaction. I had to call the Force5 Tradewind.

As you can see, I'm not usually at a loss for names. But I pondered what to call Binary. Nothing seemed quite right. I thought of a lot of names, but they were the ones that you find in every marina around the world. Then I read Slocum's book about his circumnavigation and I was smitten with his boat's name, Spray. It was simple and elegant and evoked thoughts of the sea. But it was also the name of someone else's boat.

I turned to Binary for suggestions. Her gelcoat was spider-webbed, her portlights were glazed, and her wood was sun-bleached and moldy. She looked like she had spent 32 years in the sun, wind, rain, and snow. I wanted to spruce her up, but I never expected to have her looking as good as new. But even though I new she would never be a "silk purse", I couldn't bring myself to call her Sow's Ear.

That fall, I discovered what terrible shape her wood was in and I began a major refit. Columbia 24s are a fiberglass shell with an all wood interior. I replaced $600 worth of wood inside her including the main bulkheads and the sole. I stripped, sanded, painted, varnished, wired, and plumbed. She may have been a free boat, but I've paid for her in material and labor. Sweat Equity?

By Spring, I knew her mast would stay up, the sea would stay out, her lights would work, and her rudder wouldn't fall off. I had brought another sailboat back to life, so I considered calling her Second Wind 10. Confused? "10" is how you write "2" in binary.

And then there is the whole Columbia theme. Why not Gem, as in Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean?"

It's been a year and a half now, and I've had no inspiration for a new name that suits her. We've had good times together and bad. We've braved storms, we've been lost in the fog, and we've gone on adventures of exploration. We've spent lazy, windless summer afternoons on the water. We've been through a lot together in a fairly short time and I have had the chance to bond with her and discover who she really is: Binary.

Eric White, 19 Feb 98

I thought this was the end of this file, but the subject of naming a boat goes on. The following were submitted by Steve Gabor, who lives aboard Sanderling, C-31 #77, in Oldsmar, FL.

I have six pages of boat names. They've been popping into my head for about 30 years, after I started thinking about a name for my old catboat.

For a bubble-top Columbia, how about "Toil and Trouble," (from MacBeth -- "Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble." Just in case you forgot your high school English class.

How about "Gem of the Ocean," after all, according to the old song, Columbia is the gem of the ocean.

For a C-34 Mark II, whose owner is a sales person, how about "Mark-up"

Since a C-34 Mark II is such a fast boat, what about "Mach II" or "Mach Schnell?"

My late mother-in-law's name was Wilda, and I briefly thought abut calling our boat "Wilda Beast."

Computer technology is full of good names for boats, including "Binary." For a serious racer, how about "Hard Drive?" or "Byte This?"

We could do this forever. These just came to me off the top of my head while I'm typing. I could come up with lots more if I thought about it. I do this while daydreaming or sometimes trying to fall asleep. Is that weird?

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