Christening A Houseboat In Style

February 2014 Katie Burke

There’s something sacred about naming something as awesome as your houseboat after a significant moment in your relationship. In fact, I would say that it’s the second biggest commitment you can make after marriage. If you are willing to stick your houseboat with a name that has something to do with your spouse, then it really must be forever.

That’s what’s so inspiring about James and Ashley Eaton, from Westmoreland, Tenn.

“We went to a New Year’s Eve party just a few months after we were married and we realized we had never danced together,” says Ashley. “So, the next song the band played we decided to get up and dance. The song was, ‘Drift Away.’”

A few years later, when they purchased their first houseboat, the couple began brainstorming names.

“James said he knew the perfect name, Drift Away. I thought it was such a romantic notion that we even hung the lyrics of the song on the wall in the boat,” says Ashley. “Now, not only are we making memories out on our houseboat, we also have the memory of our first dance together with us too.”

What do you do when it’s time to upgrade the boat? It’s almost always hard to part with the houseboat that has become a family member, but especially one you’ve named after your relationship. But the couple reached a point where it was time to get something new and looked to Lynn Grissom at Houseboats Buy Terry to find them a new boat. 

The new-to-them boat ended up being a 1996 14- by 52-foot Wavelength houseboat, which they instantly fell in love with even though they weren’t familiar with the manufacturer.

“When we bought the boat we had never heard of Wavelength so I searched online and found the owner, Jimmy Broadrick, on LinkedIn,” says Ashley. “I sent him an email to find out more and we ended up corresponding online about the background of the boat. I found out it was actually built in my hometown, which made it even more special.”

Wavelength Houseboats

Wavelength Houseboats was started by James Willard Broadrick, Jimmy’s father, who passed away two years ago.

“Hardly a day goes by that I don't see something he had his hand in,” says Jimmy. “He was a perfectionist at everything he did and he is greatly missed.”

Back in the day, James owned an excavating and utility company but he would buy a boat shell with no interior and he and his children would custom build a new boat for the family to use. Then he would sell it and buy a bigger shell for the kids to finish. Over the years of building hobby boats, the family would hear what people liked and disliked about their boats, so they had a great headstart when they started manufacturing them.

Wavelength Houseboats was officially kicked off as a way to keep the excavating employees working over the winter months so they wouldn’t have to be laid off. After the crew built the first boat and put it in a boat show in Hendersonville, Tenn., the response was so great that that the boats began a completely separate company. The crew went on to build 57 boats.

“Wavelength Houseboats were strictly custom built,” says Jimmy. “Every boat was a reflection of the owner, not just a few color choices from the factory.” 

Some of the great things about Wavelength boats are that the main stringers run the full length of the boat and the bulkheads are fitted around them. Plus they were one of the only manufacturers to use a one-piece fiberglass cabin. While the company is no longer in business, you can find its boats at marinas around the country.

Drift Away II     

Once James and Ashley were sold on the quality of the boat, they purchased it. Even though the boat was already named, the couple had something else in mind.

“The boat came with a name, which was Biggar Boat. The gentleman we bought it from had the last name of Biggar,” says James. “He developed lung cancer and had to sell the boat so we made him a promise to always take care of it.” 

But their original boat name meant so much to them that the new boat became Drift Away II. Once they decided to rename the boat, they began planning a christening party to officially dename and then rename the boat in style. Custom invites went out to family, friends, marina friends and to their new friend, Jimmy Broadrick.

“Jimmy brought us a beautiful granite plaque that had an engraving of the boat as well as the name,” says James. “We currently have it displayed in the boat.”

Once their 50 guests arrived, they were treated to cake that was shaped like the boat and swag bags, which included a glass for boat drinks and party beads. The couple put together a naming ceremony where they read the traditional speech and then pledged on a silver dollar to always take care of the boat no matter what she needs in honor of the original owner, Mr. Biggar, who sadly ended up passing away the previous March. The ceremony concluded with a champagne toast and finger foods for all. 

These days, you can find the Eatons and the Drift Away II at Barren River Lake State Park Marina in Lucas, Ky. Now that the boat is officially renamed, the couple is enjoying the peaceful life by spending every weekend onboard.

How To Rename Your Boat

According to legend, each and every vessel is recorded by name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Neptune, the god of the sea. Sailors have sworn that the unluckiest ships are those who have defied nature and changed their names improperly. Thankfully, there is a way to change a boat's name without upsetting the various made-up deities of the sea and air by purging the old name from the Ledger of the Deep and from Neptune’s memory.

Here is the ceremony the Eastons used.

First you must dename your boat by reading these ceremonial words:

In the name of all who have sailed aboard this boat in the past, and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient gods of the wind and the water to favor us with their blessing today.

Mighty Neptune, king of all that moves in or on the water; and mighty Aeolus, guardian of the winds and all that blows before them:

We offer you our thanks for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past. We voice our gratitude that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and enjoyed safe passage to port.

Now, wherefore, we submit this supplication, that the name whereby this vessel has been known (old vessel name), be struck and removed from your records. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from Neptune’s log.

[Drop metal tag with original name from the bow of the boat into the water.]

Further, we ask that when she is again presented for blessing with another name, she shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the selfsame privileges she previously enjoyed.

In return for which, we rededicate this vessel to your domain in full knowledge that she shall be subject as always to the immutable laws of the gods of the wind and the water.


Once the boat has been denamed, you can start the renaming portion of the ceremony with this speech.

Oh mighty and great rulers of the wind and of the water, we implore you in your graciousness to take unto your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time be known as (new vessel name), guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe passage throughout her journeys within your realm.

In consequence whereof, and in good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the water.

Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel (new vessel name) the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your kindness according to our needs.

[Pour champagne west to east on bow; then from south to north]

You who cause the waters to rage or lie in sweet repose, please list’ to we mariners here, your servants of the flows. This boat, the captain, crew and all of those who love the winds and waters – will follow where thee goes.

Please raise you glasses and repeat after me “To Neptune!”

[Guests toast to Neptune and ring the boat bell]

Let it be recorded, that on this day _________, and forever more, this fine vessel is named (new vessel name).

May God bless her and all who sail her.

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