When we acquired Tula in April 2004 there were two important deities that we did not wish to possibly offend by renaming our new vessel. A condition of the purchase was that our boat’s name remained the same. Poseidon is the Greek God of the Sea and a fairly ripped dude. According to legend, he is the co-keeper of the Ledger of the Deep along with Neptune, the Roman God of the Oceans, another God who has clearly spent a lot of time in the gym. In that ledger, a record is kept of every vessel that plies the oceans of the world. Both gentlemen reside in the depths of the ocean and assure safe passage to all who travel on the Seven Seas and who follow their doctrine and respect their protocols.
To change a vessel’s name is to blemish that record. We sailors are a superstitious bunch and the last thing we needed to do was to upset these important men and face a life of mysterious, unfortunate events such as fires, breakdowns, accidents or worse. There is a very precise process to be followed in renaming a boat.
For a full and funny explanation of the official ceremony, check the Web for John Vigor’s “Interdenominational Boat De-naming Ceremony”.
So the decision to retain her name was easy. We liked the brevity of the name, being easily understandable on the marine radio. The name also to us has a costly quality to it. She seems to be happy when we lavish vast quantities of cash on her. If we have not recently written a cheque, she acts up. Once some new expense is incurred, she becomes content for a while. An accountant’s worst nightmare.
Fred Chalut, Tula’s former owner told us the story of how she acquired her name. Fred’s wife Stacey took her school class to a Vancouver tennis club to teach them the finer points of the game. In order to quiet down his pupils, the visiting Kenyan tennis pro stood before the excited multitudes of children, raised his hands and invoked the words “Tula, Tula, Tula…” At the conclusion of the lesson, Stacey enquired as to the meaning of the words. The pro responded that the words were Swahili for “Peace and Calm My Children”. Stacey related this story to Fred that evening and the decision was immediately made to rename the boat.
Some years ago, I relayed this story to an old friend Ian Hornby-Smith. He had lived in Zimbabwe for many years and had a different interpretation. “Simpson, “Tula, Tula Tula” means shut-up, shut-up, shut-up!! Another sailor friend, Ian Shepherd was born in South Africa and fluent in Zulu. Ian’s opinion was that “Msingu Thula” in Zulu meant “Shut the f_ _ k up!!”
We prefer the Swahili interpretation.
Why she was named “Chateau de Pampelonne” by her first owner, a French citizen, we will never know. Perhaps he liked the 17th-century vineyard of the same name that borders the beach of the same name on the French Riviera. Or its famous red wine.
On an historical side-note, in July 1986, the French government introduced the Pons Law to foster new business in French overseas territories. French citizens became able to claim a very healthy income tax deduction by purchasing a sailboat in France, shipping or sailing it to a French dependency such as Martinique in the Caribbean and putting the boat in charter. When Tula was due to leave Martinique in early 1992 on her eventual trip to Canada, there were some 300 French sailboats in the harbour all in the charter business. Tula eventually was sailed through stormy seas to Fort Lauderdale, Florida by J. P. Cardinal of Westerly Yachts in Vancouver. According to J.P. the only casualties arising from the rough seas were several bottles of low-quality Caribbean rum which spilt in the bilge. The better-quality rum made it through to be consumed by the crew once the storms passed.
After arrival in Fort Lauderdale, Tula made her way to Victoria, British Columbia by truck.