Niña, Pinta, Knot Workin’.

A mostly photo post today, because I’m lazy.

On Saturday I went kayaking. I’m sort of on an exercise binge, at least to the extent that I’m capable. A true exercise binger would have been undaunted by the brisk wind from the west, and would have dug in and headed out to the shipping channel for a quick there-and-back, damn the rollers, but not me. I stayed in the canals and collected data for my eventual master’s thesis on boat naming.

You can make a study of these things. Once upon a time boats were named for monarchs (Queen Mary), nobler ideas (Courage, Intrepid) or people who’d earned the privilege (Edmund Fitzgerald, Harry S. Truman). These aren’t names you’ll see in your local marina, unless you live in Liverpool or Norfolk or some such. For the average boat-owning American, naming the vessel is less high-minded and more fun, an occasion that calls for all the creativity they can muster. Like most creativity, though, it’s kind of predictable, and tends to fall into broad categories. Most common is puns and wordplay:


Some boaters can’t get over how the first two syllables in “nautical” make a homophone of “naughty.” People drink beer on boats and wear brief swimwear; naughtiness is frequently uppermost in mind. Also, basic facility with lines and knots is a requirement of the job, and so “knotty” is sometimes deployed in its place. We had a boat docked nearby our first year called the Knotty Lady, with the name spelled out in a font that looked like ropes. Alan once overheard the owner’s wife saying, “It says on our contract that if the boat isn’t removed from the water by November 1, they’ll do it for you. Isn’t that nice of them?” Perhaps Dumb Lady would have been more appropriate.

Bertram is a big manufacturer of motor yachts. I don’t think this is one of them:


More wordplay. It says something about the world of boating that you can drive around in a vehicle with a giant advertisement on the back saying, essentially, “There’s a good chance I’m drunk.” For the record, the law of the Michigan sea says you can drink aboard, but you can’t operate while drunk. Imagine driving down the highway, knowing you can legally raise a bottle in salute to a passing cop, as long as you won’t blow .08. (The funniest car-accident photo I ever saw was from a small paper in Indiana, showing a beater that had run off the road. Emblazoned across its trunk lid: “Daved and confused.” Go Dave!)

Many boat owners, in choosing names for their vessels, emphasize the mental-health angle:

Tranquillity II

Walk through any marina, and you’ll find versions of this: Seaclusion, Serenity, Escape, Cool Breezes, Hakuna Matata, In Recess. (The more jargon a job has, the more likely it’ll turn up on a stern somewhere. Lawyers in particular are guilty of this, but I bet if we’d explored the yacht basin in Sausalito, I’m sure we would have found at least one Offline and Away Message.) Skippers like to emphasize how chill they are, which lasts until the next set of bills comes, or one hits a rock. In my time on the water, I’ve witnessed beautiful watercraft pounded into near-splinters by heedless teenagers, squabbling crew members, screaming couples, fires onboard, near-sinkings. Somehow, you never see boats named Divorce Court or Poor House. Huh.

Also, note: This is Tranquillity II. Some people only have one name in them; all over the nation’s waterways are the Three B’s IV, Gone Fishin’ III, etc. Boats are distinct from one another; this just seems wrong to me.

I’m baffled by this one:

Christine's Phantom

Inside joke/reference, I guess. Maybe Christine got a palimony settlement from Andrew Lloyd Webber. Maybe she got the house in the divorce, leaving her ex with this consolation prize.

Local color plays its part. This is a terrible name for a boat:

Hockey Puck

What’s the point? It moves fast? It would fit for an iceboat, but the last thing most people want to think about during summer sailing season is the Red Wings. But then, a boat is like a little floating nation with a single monarch, who gets to have it his/her way. So there.

Another local reference. Anyone get it?

Chillin' the Most

It’s a Kid Rock lyric:

Buy a yacht with a flag sayin’ chillin’ the most
Then rock that bitch up and down the coast

Kid Rock is a local hero. He’s got a big hit now (“All Summer Long”) that name-checks northern Michigan, every Mitten Stater’s favorite summer-vacation spot. In the video…

…he drives a classic mahogany speedboat, which I will bet a sawbuck is not an original but one of those jillion-dollar reproductions. My friends Paul and Mark had a boat like that, and still do. It was a Chris-Craft, named The Kid. Here it is, in a scene from a summer day much like the ones in the video, only no one is pole-dancing or displaying breast implants:


I don’t know who that girl is. She looks drunk.

Anyway, Kid Rock’s boat name in the video is also a reference to that song about chillin’ the most, but not, I’m happy to say, something like Rockin’ That Bitch. It’s just the song title: Cowboy.

Then there’s ours:

Lush Life

Alan’s a jazz fan. I favored this name, and suggested Kind of Blue as an alternative. I thought Boplicity would be cool (it’s a Miles Davis song), even though no one would get it, and probably pronounce it “Bopple City.” Long after our friend J.C. designed this new name for us and it was installed, Alan revealed his secret second choice: Box of Rain.

I didn’t even know he liked the Grateful Dead.


Fascinating story in Sunday’s NYT magazine on trolling (the internet variety). What awful people.

That Obama-is-skinny story was made even worse over the weekend, after Maureen Dowd echoed its central premise and money quote, taken from a Yahoo politics message board. In both the WSJ and the NYT, it was reported as, “I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.”

In its full version, it reads: “Yes I think He is to skinny to be President.Hillary has a potbelly and chuckybutt I’d of Voted for Her.I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.” Hmm. The story appeared Friday, which tells me Maureen Dowd is still writing her Sunday column on Friday morning — not unheard of, certainly, but if she’s going to cut it that close, she should check the blogs first. That thing had been stripped by piranhas by noon.

Can I just say that few things drive me as insane as people who write “I’d of voted for…?” It’s my “supposebly.”

And that’s it for today. Monday. Another one. Sigh.

Posted at 1:37 am in Detroit life, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

29 responses to “Niña, Pinta, Knot Workin’.”

  1. Gasman said on August 4, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Girl, when do you sleep? Because I live in Mountain Time, I’m rarely near the top of the reply list, let alone first.

    You’d be surprised at the number of large boats that one sees in the mountainous deserts of the Southwest. The reservoir regattas can be ridiculously amazing spectacles. Occasionally, a name will strike me as clever, but more often than not they seem hokey and vain.

    I’d like to think that the Chozick piece and Dowd response were so imbecilic that they will do more damage than good to the Republican cause. Please, just once, give me a conservative that is capable of reasoned debate, that doesn’t engage in hyperbole, that won’t insult my intelligence, and won’t resort to cheap personal attacks. Of course, if they were capable of these things it is likely they wouldn’t be conservatives.

    If this isn’t reason enough to get rid of Republican rule, I’m not sure what is.

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  2. Jolene said on August 4, 2008 at 5:52 am

    Not even 6 AM and I’ve already learned something new. Always thought “tranquillity” was “tranquility”, but says that’s the also-ran spelling. I still like it better, though. That extra “l” seems superfluous.

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  3. john c said on August 4, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Just back from ‘chillin the most’ up north. Didn’t see Kid Rock. Not even on the Go Kart track in Interlochen.

    Love the boat names post, something I’ve always paid attention to. My favorite are the ones that are way out of synch with the boat. It’s one thing to buy a little 20-footer and give it a goofball name. But I’m sorry, if you drop half-a-mill on a 50-foot yacht it should have a more substantial name than, oh, “Knot Workin.’
    There’s a boat in St. Clair Shores called the Sloop John B, which always make me chuckle. I love the song, don’t get me wrong. But if I wanted to name a boat for it, I think I’d get a sloop and call it the John B.
    Lush Life is an excellent name, both suggestive of the leisure of boating and the owner’s personality.
    Another favorite, of course, is Judge Shmales’ “Flying Wasp.”

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  4. Dorothy said on August 4, 2008 at 7:25 am

    I thought the same thing, Jolene. And now that we are building a new house, I can’t envision ever owning a boat. But if we DID, I think the appropriate name would be “Bank Robbery Dividend.”

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  5. coozledad said on August 4, 2008 at 7:56 am

    We bought a boat for the pond with a metal flake bass sticker already supplied. I guess ours is named “Lunker Club”. I could get a Marks-a-lot and switch it to “Drunker Club”,but it would hardly be worth the effort.
    When he was a kid, Billy Strayhorn stayed intermittently in a house near my grandparents in Hillsborough, NC. I hope he was fortunate enough not to meet them. Apparently he liked it there, so I’m guessing he didn’t.

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  6. John said on August 4, 2008 at 8:31 am

    I love that picture of you, but my favorite was the one with you lying on the side of the boat, definitely in an altered state.

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  7. Emma said on August 4, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Isn’t Christine the character from “Phantom of the Opera?” Either way…. dumb.

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  8. jcburns said on August 4, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Great pictures Nance, enhanced from the low angle you get from being a kayak-photographer, as opposed to just shooting them from the deck of another big ol’ boat. I’m looking forward to the coffee table book.

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  9. brian stouder said on August 4, 2008 at 10:02 am

    My friends… had a boat like that, and still do. It was a Chris-Craft, named The Kid. Here it is…

    Boat? What boat?

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  10. moe99 said on August 4, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I remember hot summer days spent in speedboats on Clear Lake in Indiana. What I would not have done for a cottage and a boat! To my mind, the ideal lazy vacation.

    These days there are fewer boats on Lake Washington or Lake Union in Seattle, victims, no doubt, to the rise in gas prices. A friend’s son took a summer job with the Parks Department helping unload boats from the public dock into the water and reports that it is very, very slow business.

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  11. nancy said on August 4, 2008 at 10:40 am

    The big story around here is boat repos — the NYT had a piece on a guy who’s making a killing hooking boats where the owner has stopped paying. That and gas prices is making for a nice summer for sailors, but the overall mood is still pretty grim. If the tide falls too far, we’ll all be stranded.

    Somewhere, Brian, there’s a picture of me at 16 in a bikini, taken at that same lovely vacation spot. No, I’m not posting it. Dream on!

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  12. alex said on August 4, 2008 at 10:49 am

    moe, Clear Lake’s the best, although it’s getting priced out of the stratosphere and charming old summer homes that were plenty big in the first place are being knocked down to build beige vinyl behemoths for the vulgar. Did you see the Ladies of Clear Lake nudie calendar? All that saggy, sun-damaged septuagenarian skin helped save a small island from developers.

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  13. brian stouder said on August 4, 2008 at 11:03 am

    No, I’m not posting it. Dream on!

    Ohhhhh! No fair!!

    Speaking of old times, we went to Pam’s class reunion this past weekend – and the whole class only numbered about 60 people, and pretty much everyone dated everyone else at some point or other (including to the current day)…which made for surprisingly lively conversation/gossip! In fact, as the evening ended, and people were talking in the parking lot, I referred to a bit of Pam’s past that not everyone knew (almost impossible, in that group!) and got smacked – smooshing a very nice piece of crunchy lemon pie into the gravel.

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  14. Joe Kobiela said on August 4, 2008 at 11:10 am

    The Vid was good but I think the kid ripped off werewolfs of London. As for the boat. I think I would make that bet with you. It looks like a century resorter,not saying it hasn’t been redone, but I don’t think it is a new one.
    As for the Nancy in a bikini photo, you would not have mentioned it unless you wanted to show it. I say we take a vote.
    All in favor of madam telling tales bikini photo say,
    Pilot Joe

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  15. brian stouder said on August 4, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Aye aye, Captain Joe! –

    and –


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  16. Howie said on August 4, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I’ve caught the Kid Rock song on the radio several times, and I just howl along to Werewolves of London at the appropriate times. With the popularity of Kid Rock, it is only a matter of time before I have to explain to a teenager that Zevon did it first.

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  17. LAMary said on August 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Box of Rain sounds like it needs a bilge pump. I’d go with Ripple if I needed a Grateful Dead boat name. Sugar Magnolia works too.
    My company protects me from photos and most videos, so I have to imagine what you’re talking about up there. Growing up we had boats with fairly uninteresting names: Millie Jean and Hurricane. Hurricane we bought with that name and never bothered to change it.

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  18. brian stouder said on August 4, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    I’d have to go with a Pearl Jam-inspired name….maybe Nothingman, or Drifting, or Alive, or I Got Id, or In My Tree

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  19. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 4, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Oh, c’mon — “The Busted Flush.” The apotheosis of boats, with full-length mirrors, a vault in the hold, and plenty of [koff] sleeping space.

    I would hate to see that on a lame-o lake “yacht,” but it would cheer me to see it all the same.

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  20. LAMary said on August 4, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Here are a couple of boats owned by my big bro:

    Anyone want to go fishing off the north fork of Long Island?

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  21. Danny said on August 4, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Brian, Even Flow.

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  22. coozledad said on August 4, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    I was trying to dig up an old story from Durham’s now defunct Urban Hiker about a guy who was half owner of a bar my wife and I would go to occasionally. He was in college when he got an offer of employment from an uncle in St. Kitts?, with one condition: He had to bring his uncle’s 28 foot sailboat over from Miami. The boat had the complete charts on board, plus Loran, and a small inboard engine, so nothing was likely to go wrong.
    Plus, he had two guys to help crew, one of whom was a neurotic drug dealer, and if they made good time, they’d miss the worst part of hurricane season.
    I’ll keep looking for it. I always thought it would make a hell movie.

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  23. brian stouder said on August 4, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Danny – great call! (folks would think Pam was a pediatrician)

    Cz – so now, you’re referring to this ersatz sailor exclusively in the past-tense……which makes me think the movie would end unhappily.

    I’ve been reading a book called Last Flag Down, about the voyage of the commerce-raiding (essentially pirate) CSS Shenandoah near (and beyond!) the end of the Civil War; caught the authors on C-SPAN and snapped up the book, which is written in a somewhat melodramatic fashion – but good nonetheless.

    By way of saying, I get the impression that lots and lots of ‘ersatz sailors’ became real sailors only under extreme duress (and after being “triced” a time or two [or three])

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  24. coozledad said on August 4, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Brian: They wound up being towed about 70 miles by a Coast Guard vessel, which is apparently an experience only marginally better than being wrecked and drowned.

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  25. Dexter said on August 4, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Box of Rain reminds me of a personal Top Ten movie, “Hatful of Rain”, which starred Lloyd Nolan.

    The extra “L” conundrum…that jumped out at me, too…I had never seen it like that, even though I spell like The New Yorker editors have for years, for words like “fuelling”, they always double-up on the final “L” in a word.
    Deep Trout

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  26. Dexter said on August 4, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    I post this link here because this is a nautical thread today.
    My acquaintance Bob Hardison of Idaho stopped by for a visit in early January of 2003. He told me of his plan to sail a Trimaran across the ocean. He was 69 at the time. He was on his way to Montreal when he stopped for a visit and a meal.
    The story is told in precise detail via his posted log books, a lot of it is sailor jargon and details of repairs. Check it out, read a bit, and make sure to read the last posts from the Gibraltar shipwreck and how Bob landed in Egypt with nothing but the clothes on his back, rescued by a freighter. Bob still lives in Idaho.

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  27. basset said on August 4, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Kid Rock… feh. could not name you a single one of his performances.

    Seger, on the other hand… there you could find some boat names. “Against the Wind” is too obvious, though.

    and it’s good to see that Madame has discovered the polarizing filter.

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  28. jcburns said on August 4, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    LAMary says: “My company protects me from photos and most videos, so I have to imagine what you’re talking about up there.” To which I react: “!!!” What is it they think you MIGHT see? There are so many corporate IT weasels who I’d like to take out on a long ride beyond the Florida Keys on the Busted Flush…and, well, they would be on-board only going one way.

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  29. LAMary said on August 5, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I think they are protecting the company from computers full of videos, photos, you tube stuff and illegal music downloads. Occasionally there is a glitch and I get the photo or video, but mostly I have white space. Until recently we had no sound, either. The computers throughout the hospital were not able to play cds or dvds or hear music or view video. About 18 months ago we implemented a new online applicant tracking system which receives applications and attaches them to appropriate jobs, follows the workflow through to hiring the person. The genius the company hired to introduce this applicant tracking system had several hundred training DVDs made, packaged in cute little boxes that looked like movie theatre candy and inclosed some microwave popcorn and some jujubes or junior mints or something. These training DVDs were given to all hiring managers in all four SoCal hospitals this company owns. No one could watch them. The consultant was sent awaty but paid to the end of his contract
    and peons like me and the rest of the recruiters had to visit each hiring manager and train them on using the new applicant tracking system.

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