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What's in a name?

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Hay River (Jun 11/01) - It's said that the sea is the first love of a sailor, but their boats are usually a close second. They take a special pride their in their vessels and that usually begins with choosing a name.

Not every boat has a name, but on the stern of most you'll see a name and behind every name there is a story. Boat owners will name their vessels for any number of things, like past or present loves or family members and they take the ship's naming very seriously.

The earliest recorded named boats were the Egyptians' Nile River boats. Since then, the tradition of naming boats has flourished. Some names have etched themselves indelibly into our recollections of myth and history.

Jason's Argo, the Santa Maria, Nina, and Pinta, the Bounty, Titanic, the Bluenose and the Edmund Fitzgerald have all earned a place in maritime folklore.

Steve Blakely is a 10-year veteran of the Great Slave Lake fishery. He captains a 47-foot steel hull out of Hay River

"I named it Odyssey after the definition in the dictionary," Blakely said. "A quest or a journey marked by fate."

The journey has encountered rough water on the lake and low fish prices, but through it all, the Odyssey has been good to him.

Captain David Day at NTCL says vessels all have to be registered with either a hull name or a number.

"One can say 'Will a number do?'"

"Depending on the company, hull 360 might become the Louis St. Laurent, or something," he explained adding that each vessel must have a port of registry stamped on her stern.

At age 16, Day went to work for a shipping company in his native Scotland. It named their vessels after the geography of the country.

"Each vessel was called after a hill or mountain in Scotland," he said. "I didn't think of the mountain -- the vessel becomes the name."

Alec Maurice sails two fishing boats out of the port of the North.

"I kept the name of Red Diamond; but this one I named the Lisa Marie after my daughter," he says and smiles, patting the stern.

Ships don't last forever, but in the minds and hearts of their skippers, the name lives long after the ship has sailed her last voyage.