How to Christen a Boat

by Caroline Baldwin

According to folklore, christening a boat brings good fortune to the vessel and her crew throughout the life of the boat. Don’t miss out on this good fortune. Christen your boat with a ceremony in front of friends and family. Incorporate it with a small get-together or party and make it a day of fun on the water. The modern way to christen a boat no longer involves smashing a bottle of expensive champagne against the hull of the boat, as that led to many accidents. A nice bottle of red wine -- the anointing beverage ancient captains used -- or champagne for toasting, a branch of leaves and a dedication is all you need before you set sail.

Invite all who are important to the boat to the christening, such as family members, friends, colleagues and all who will enjoy time on the boat.

Pass out plastic glasses of champagne or wine to all guests of drinking age. Sparkling cider or juice cocktail can be given to children and guests who prefer not to drink alcohol. Plastic glasses are safest around water and boats.

Recite a speech you wrote asking for the sea and higher powers to provide safe journeys and good will. As an alternative, search online for old sailor dedications and recite one as your speech.

Ask guests to raise their glasses when you do and say, “I now christen thee, (name of vessel).” Have everyone take a drink.

Pour a bottle of wine or champagne over the bow of the boat. Lay the branch of leaves on the deck of the boat to ensure her many safe returns.

Take the newly christened boat out for a cruise or a sail to close the ceremony.

Tip

  • If you do choose to break a bottle against the hull, boating supply stores sell pre-scored bottles that are easier to break. They come packaged in a net to catch the glass.

Warning

  • Sailors’ superstition says you must wait to bring any items bearing the vessel’s name onto the boat until after the christening or it will bring bad luck.

Items you will need

  • Plastic wine or champagne glasses
  • Bottles of red wine or champagne
  • Bottles of sparkling cider or juice cocktail
  • Bottle opener
  • Branch of leaves

About the Author

Caroline Baldwin, a corporate communications director located in South Carolina, began writing in 1998. Her work has been published in publications across the United States and Canada including Rolling Stone, Boating Life, Waterski and Wakeboarding magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from The College of Charleston.

Photo Credits

  • Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images