earlier. "Jenny and I could never forget Daq'Attack." And I thought, yeah, you can't forget Daq' Attack. Not because I'm anything special, but because it's an odd name. It's unique (some would say unique because no one else would want it). Like an annoying commercial jingle, it sticks in your head because it rhymes and rolls off the tongue, and you just can't shake it. Saddled with the common name of Dan, I may be personally forgettable—I hope it's only the name—but an uncommon boat name helps stirs the memory pool. It pulls a fish out of a school.
During our 13 1/2-year circumnavigation, we made many fine acquaintances (and, unfortunately, forgot many more). Our collective memory brims with bucketfuls of boats named Sea Spray and Sea Dove and Desire and Destiny. Interesting people, many of their owners were. And nice boat names, certainly, but some names are like wearing a big brother's hand-me-downs: someone else has already slept in them. When hailed by a Sea Spray, I have to question the crew about whether they're the Sea Spray from San Francisco or Sarasota or Marblehead or Maine. Boat names are personal, and I certainly wouldn't attempt talking someone out of their Destiny, but there's a good reason "Big Mac" is trademarked—so that no other burger joint can piggyback on you-know-who's advertising. I'm not comparing boats to burgers, but when a friend calls me to join him for a Mac Attack, you know instantly to meet him under the Golden Arches, not the Colonel's bucket.
Some cruisers, certainly, prefer not to billboard their boat's name across the hull; subtlety has a certain flair, and celebrities may prefer anonymity. An Australian friend once asked what I thought of the name on his newly painted Peterson 44 sitting in a cradle. I circled it once and said, "What name?" He pointed toward thin, black print just two inches high and barely visible behind the transom swim ladder: La Hoja. In the shade of "The Leaf" stood our freshly painted Daq' Attack, its shiny, two-color vinyl name pasted on both sides in letters eight inches high with a strawberry on top. A giant daiquiri-glass decal covered half the transom. I felt very loud, very look-at-me, very McDonald's.
From memory-jogging to Maydays, however, an easily pronounceable and unique name has a better chance of being correctly reported by the U.S. Coast Guard duty officer, who may be rushing a helicopter to your aid instead of diverting searchers toward Sea Spray of Newport, Rhode Island, who's currently snugly anchored in Nevis, or toward Sea Spray of Newport Beach, California, currently trailering Highway 10 to Nevada. Anything
Bob and Janet Bean (left) work hard to keep cruising connections fresh; a Scandinavian skipper whose only name the author can remember is his first-Olov (above, right, with his two children)-had moved on from his first boat, Zena, to the catamaran Two Good when they had a chance encounter 13 years later.
that favors the finding of your boat when in distress has to be a good thing.
Some, including my wife, Liz, don't like the name Daq' Attack. I admit it's not very nautical, and what, for goodness sake, is a "daq"? Australians thought it meant Dag' Attack and that I herded sheep: To Aussies, a "dag" is an, um, undesirable clinging lump hanging from a sheep's back end. Some New Zealanders were worse: In the marina in Whangarei, the younger generation read our name and laughed at us as they passed by. In Kiwi, a "dak" is a marijuana cigarette. This required a bit of explaining to the young officer at New Zealand customs. (I once saw a super-fast cigarette boat chained to the customs dock in Miami; it was named Blow. Doh! At least I can claim ignorance of Down Under English).
Acquaintances may forget our names, but when someone hailed Daq' Attack over the radio in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., it brought Woody Estes from Welkin out of the woodwork.
"Cartegena, 1993, Christmas, Norm's marina," said Woody, reminiscing 11 years after our introduction. He'd motored over in his dinghy, introduced his girlfriend, Cathy Alsip, and told us that when we split from Colombia, he tailed us for much of the way (and I thought it was the coast guard!). Woody finished his circumnavigation one month before we completed ours. He and Cathy chose to sail the final leg south around Africa instead of beating up the Red Sea, as we did. He admits that when he heard "Daq' Attack" over the radio, he had to dig into his cheat sheet for our names. When he came by and said hello—like I'd lunched with him yesterday—I felt ambushed. I didn't know his boat was in port; I didn't have the chance to associate the person with the boat.
Woody's been cruising for 15 years, longer than we've been out, and at that moment he was tossing a coin: Bahamas or Venezuela. After that?
"I think I'll get lost in the Caribbean for a while," said Woody. "I'm retired. I don't need much. My investments have kept up with my lifestyle. Why go back?" Welkin, a Valiant 40, is all the real estate Woody needs. "Mowing lawns," he said. "Now why would I want that?" I hope to remember this advice.
Windfall caught us in a gale and suggested we come in for shelter and a sundowner. We've kept in e-touch with Bob and Janet Bean since we last saw them a decade ago, in the western Caribbean. While we knew from their last update that they planned to be somewhere in the Bahamas in the summer, the Bahamas cover a huge area, and summer lasts for 12 months. We
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