1) of ancient Sparta or its people or culture;
2) like or characteristic of the Spartans, who were famous for being warlike, brave, stoical, severe, frugal, and highly disciplined;
3) not luxurious or ornate; plain; austere: Spartan furnishings;
If you know Kath and I, you know that we would never, ever name a boat “Spartan”. We are not spartan. Our boat is not spartan. We don’t aspire to be spartan. But, Spartan is our boat.
Although all sailboats are spare in comforts, ours has more than many. It’s all relative, of course, and there’s a broad spectrum. But there is no way to put our boat on the part of the spectrum that would be aptly named “spartan”. Lin Pardey was spartan. Slocum was spartan. We have a working fridge. We have lovely cushions. We have a custom-made mattress and sheets. If anything, referring to our life aboard as “spartan” is a “let them eat cake” sort of affront. It trivializes and demeans the hardships, the discipline and the accomplishments of so many others, afloat and ashore, living with less.
I’m no scholar, but I’m guessing that the fierce warriors of Sparta did not spend any time boasting about how lean they were living. They probably didn’t name ships “Getting By Without Much” or “Living Hard”. They just got on with it, killing, burning, eating, sleeping, etc as the occasion warranted.
A Name Says a Lot
Are you the musician couple from the boat, Harmony? Are you the yoga couple from Serenity? Are you one of the retired teachers from Principal’s Office? When cruising, you, your spouse and your boat are a package. No one is going to remember all three names. So, it’s handy to have a boat name that says something about who you are.
Where does that leave a technology product manager and a director of worker’s compensation legal clinics who have lived a life of relative good fortune, ease and comfort? Apparently, it leaves them with a boat called Spartan and no great desire to go through the rigamarole of changing it. It also leaves them perpetually undecided on what new name they would pick.
Other Names We’ve Considered
Coddiwomple – I stumbled upon this old english slang term a while back. It means “to travel purposefully, but without a known destination”. It’s a great meaning but the word itself is a mouthful and even more so when you say it three times when hailing on the VHF.
Courage My Love – This is the name of a clothing store in Toronto, and I’ve always loved the name. It’s also the name of a local band and a book too.
Grace – Grace is one of my all time favourite words and character traits. It’s also our daughter’s middle name.
Each of us is carrying around a big, messy box that contains the full story of who we are and how we got here. It’s chaos in that box. And frankly, only the people that love you most want to go wading around in there, sifting through your sordid backstory. The rest of us, the people you will meet briefly at an anchorage or sail for a few days with, we don’t have time for the box. Just give us some handles – little shortcuts that give us a brief synopsis of who you are. Unfortunately, “Spartan” doesn’t say much about us, except maybe that we are either lazy or don’t care too much about boat names. Hmmm. Hey how about the name…?
I like the name Spartan! To me you two have pared your life down in service of this voyage of discovery, adventure and experience. You are sailing soldiers!