Tom and Harriet Linskey had some misgivings about renaming their faithful yacht of many years, but with their changed circumstances, it was time for a new beginning. However, rechristening a boat needs to be done right…

Everyone warned us that it’s bad luck, but Harriet and I did it anyway: we changed the name of our boat. For 14 years our Dolphin 460 46-foot cruising cat was called Hands Across the Sea after the US-based Caribbean child-literacy nonprofit we founded in 2007. After we retired from running our charity in 2020, we decided to rename the boat OCEAN, because that’s where we were headed next.

After 14 years of “commuting to work” by sail from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to the Windward and Leeward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean to create 473 libraries of new, amazing books in local primary schools and high schools, we were going bluewater cruising again. And after 20 years away, we were going home to New Zealand.

OCEAN seemed like the right name, given our far-off horizons. We were sailing from New England to Bermuda, then to Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal, the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Fiji, and on to the Bay of Islands, in Northland. That’s about 10,300 nautical miles of voyaging. Neither Harriet, my voyaging wife of 35 years, three boats, and 60,000 miles, nor I believe in sailors’ superstitions, but we’d sure welcome some good luck along the way. Doubts began to surface. What if there is something to this name-changing jinx?

Renaming a boat is a serious business. Reverend Wendy Reardon conducts proceedings in the cockpit. Photo: Tom Linskey

Fortunately, a good friend of ours, Reverend Wendy Reardon, volunteered to research the mystery. Wendy discovered that the name of everything afloat on this ocean planet – every rowboat, every cruising yacht, every containership – is entered in the Ledger of the Deep. All boats are known personally to Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea and keeper of the ledger. If you change your boat’s name without purging the old name from Poseidon’s memory and the Ledger of the Deep, well, that’s serious bad luck.

Wendy advised us that a rechristening ceremony was needed. So, on a sunny fall Saturday, with OCEAN at her marina berth, friends and family gathered in the cockpit. “We have come together this afternoon in celebration,” Wendy addressed us. “Renaming a boat is, of course, not something to be done lightly. Since the beginning of time, sailors have sworn that there are unlucky ships, and the unluckiest ships of all are those that have defied the gods and changed their names. So, is there a way to change a name and not incur the wrath of those deities that rule the elements? Yes, there is.”


After Harriet and I had removed every trace of the old boat name from OCEAN, the crowd chanted to Poseidon: “Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, we implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name Hands Across the Sea, which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom.”

On cue, I poured a bottle of champagne from east to west over the bows.

Wendy continued. “Today we come to name this vessel OCEAN, and send her to sea to be cared for, and to care for Harriet and T.L. We ask the sea gods of old and the God of creation to accept as her name OCEAN, and to watch over her, guard her with your mighty arm and trident and ensure her of safe and rapid passages.”

Next, all of us chanted to each of the four winds, who are brothers – to Great Boreas, Exalted Ruler of the North Wind; to Great Zephyrus, Exalted Ruler of the West Wind; to Eurus, Exalted Ruler of the East Wind, and to Great Notus, Exalted Ruler of the South Wind – for permission to use their mighty powers and spare us the overwhelming scourge of their mighty breath.

On cue, Charlotte and Jack, Harriet’s young niece and nephew, poured wine over the side of our boat to the north, west, east, and south.

Wendy shouted: “We rename this vessel again into recorded history of September 26, 2021 as OCEAN!” Everyone raised their glass and hooted, “Toast to OCEAN! Toast to Poseidon, ruler of the seas! Toast to Great Boreas! Toast to his brothers! Toast to adventure!”

OCEAN it is. Let the journey begin. BNZ



Tom was a contributor and then West Coast Editor for US magazine Yacht Racing/Cruising in the late 1970s-early 1980s. He did a lot of racing back then, including winning three world championships in the Olympic 470 (as crew for David Ullman). He subsequently became a contributing editor for SAIL magazine during the 80s-90s. Also back in the early 1990s, Tom wrote for New Zealand’s iconic SeaSpray magazine on a variety of subjects.

Tom and wife Harriet, who had lived in Titirangi for eight years, gaining New Zealand citizenship, moved back to Boston, where Tom became an Associate Editor and then Senior Editor at SAIL magazine for eight years.

Tom left SAIL in the early 90s to start his own marketing business serving leading marine companies (North Sails, Doyle Sails, Ullman Sails, and Glaser sailmakers, J/Boats, Ted Hood, Dimension-Polyant Sailcloth, and more).

Tom and Harriet started Hands Across the Sea, a non-profit organisation focused on child literacy in six English-speaking countries of the Windward and Leeward Islands in the Caribbean. They retired last year, after 13 years of Hands, having created 400-plus libraries of brand new, requested books in underserved schools.

Tom and Harriet have owned a Bristol Channel Cutter (built in the backyard from a bare hull), a J/32 (for New England coastal cruising) and their present boat, a Dolphin 460 performance cruising cat.

Tom and Harriet landed back in New Zealand in early November after sailing across the Caribbean and the Pacific on their cat.


We welcome Tom and Harriet to the Boating NZ family. This article is the first in a short series describing their most recent voyage; we look forward to featuring Tom’s work on a range of topics in future editions.