It's an interesting thing, referring to my boat as she/her. To me, it feels like a very natural thing to do. But why she?
A simple search on the topic can garner all types of answers, from the latin word being "navis" which is feminine and that just carrying forward. Maybe, but there are plenty of other latin based words that had this trait as well, yet we don't associate them with the feminine.
The simplest explanation, for me, is that it feels right. Maybe it's because I approach it from the masculine perspective, but referring to my boat as "she" has a sub-text of the protective feminine. The mother, the protector, the nurturer. Taking a boat on any journey has inherent risks, and the idea that the she has a will to protect the children she carries gives me a sense that I will be safe, that she will do her best to protect me. It serves to temper some of my fears and anxieties of handling the boat, especially as a new sailor, to think that a relationship I have with her will bolster our ability to succeed.
Now, that idea runs head-first into the reality that she will only accept this role if I also do my part. Care for her, pay attention to the items that she needs, and accept that her needs will be constant. Accept the need to maintain her and treat her with meticulous intent so that she can do her part. I am reminded of something Matt Rutherford mentioned in one of his podcasts I listened to recently where he said that if you do not pay attention to her she will start committing suicide, cutting off limbs, and making a scene.. she needs constant attention.
Poseidon is also a factor. He is the wild card that she and I must contend with. I can do my part to plan trips as best I can, to route based on weather, but he is out there and will be sure to test the relationship she and I have.
But I don't know that for everyone it needs to be feminine. I can certainly see that it would be normal to call a vessel "He" for other people. It's not so much about he/she as it is about the relationship. It's really about crossing over from the inanimate. I think about my kids and the ease in which they bestow inanimate objects with love and character. My son has a blanket named Greeney. To my son Greeney is "he" and my son has a relationship with this blanket. It is comfort.
I watched a recent video on the YouTube channel SailingSoulianis. The channel is the work of Lauren & Kirk and in this recent video Lauren was discussing Hurricane Dorian and it's path bearing down on the coast where their boat "Soulianis" was being stored. Lauren conveyed her fear for the boat being damaged because the boat had become "part of the family".
I don't know how common it is for adults to have this relationship with inanimate objects, but I am willing to bet it is more common than not. I have had it a few times... my first motorcycle, my 1978 Volkswagen camper-bus, and now my Majick Byrd. I feel safe in when I'm on board. I talk to her. I care about her. She is older but full of promise. She is not an investment. She is a passion.
She is being put on the hard this week so that I can start the many projects that she has been vocal that she needs. New wiring, re-bedding leaky deck hardware, paint, and the list goes on. But I have been listening to her, paying attention to her, and I'm excited to do my part in our agreement.
I will take care of her, and she will take care of me.
Mike D. is the founder of Sail Junky Magazine. Striving to find more purpose in life, Mike writes and shares about his journey to rediscover his passion for living a fulfilled life, especially through the medium of sailing. firstname.lastname@example.org