The name game, nautically speaking

The Titanic, the QE 2, the HMS Bounty. How about the USS Constitution, the Good Ship Lollipop, the Mayflower? Then there’s the African Queen, the Pequod, the Jolly Roger. And every school kid knows the names Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, the three ships bringing Chris and crew to the New World. Sadly, Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were used vessels (I should say pre-owned) and Chris didn’t even get a chance to name ’em.

But for the moment let’s forget about Christopher Columbus, Captain Bligh and even little Shirley Temple’s Lollipop. Let’s fast-forward to the North Fork 2011 boating season. We’ve got all kinds of boats, lots of marinas, seasoned sailors and youngsters who fill safe-boating classes. And we have some wonderful boat names. Sorry QE 2, you’re just a runner-up. And Lollipop? You’re licked.

In our search for unusual North Fork boat names, we’ll talk with Mary Anne Huntington. This Cutchogue boat owner sailed Peconic Bay for 17 summers in Impulse, her 22-foot O’Day sailboat, a craft Mary Anne did not name. Impulse has a North Fork history. Previous owners had ventured up the New England coast, especially enjoying Block Island. Mary Anne followed the old sea superstition that it brings bad luck when you change a boat’s name. So Impulse was the craft’s first and only name.

By the way, Mary Anne had a handsome and faithful crew member. Always by Mary Anne’s side in Impulse was her dog, Magee H., a chocolate-Labrador friend.

Now Mary Anne has downsized a bit — no sailboat but a 10-foot recreational kayak. And with a brand-new boat came the opportunity to choose a name. It’s Plan B. I think Mary Anne is one wise woman. As we navigate life, a Plan B is often necessary. Moreover, a Plan B often turns the tide.

This next North Fork boat has an absolutely delightful name. At least I think so. I guess I have to think so because the boat is owned by my Mattituck dentist, Dr. Alex Boukas. I want to remain on good terms with a guy who shines a bright light in my face and comes at me with all kinds of ominous instruments, most of them sharp.

Anyway, in his less aggressive moments, Dr. B. heads out on Long Island Sound with his two young sons. They enjoy the day in a craft named by one of those sons just a few years ago. Fishy Boat. How innocent, how perfect. For the three Boukas boaters do quite a bit of fishing.

Dr. B. said they start out early in the morning, purchasing some egg sandwiches at a local deli before pushing off. They fish the better part of the day. However, there’s always enough time for Dad to tow the boys around on a raft tied to Fishy Boat.
What do the Boukas fishermen bring home? Mostly porgies, lots of them. “We go home and cook up the catch right away. It tastes best then,” said Dr. B. You know, for all his high-tech equipment and his sophisticated technique, it’s good to know Dr. B. is still your basic angler. Fishy Boat indeed!

I hope you don’t mind if I insert the name of a vessel that’s not really local, although in a way it belongs to every North Forker, every American. Out at sea right now, it’s the USS Bataan and it’s the ship my husband and I are most interested in. Aboard it is our United States Navy grandson, Brian Buswell. We email back and forth as if he were moored across Long Island Sound in New London.

One more North Fork boat name before we cast off. The skipper of Reel Pilot is just that: a real pilot. Jim Devaney flies for United Airlines out of JFK and LaGuardia but takes his boat out of Jamesport Marina. His crew includes his wife, Elizabeth, who works in Riverhead, and their three youngsters. Meet Jimmy, Katie and Kiernan.

The Devaneys are serious fishermen. But they do take time out for swimming off the Reel Pilot and eating the lunches Elizabeth packs. And yes, they take lots of pictures. That’s good. Years from now when the Devaneys look through their photo albums, they’ll recognize not only Reel Pilot but real joy, real love.

Canoeing a creek, paddling the Peconic, sailing the Sound, no matter. The North Fork is blessed with waterways and with sailors young and old, recreational or those whose livelihood is fishing. One thing most North Forkers have in common? If we have a boat, we name it. We call by name that which we love.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.