Creating Your Own Boat Identity

Nine of Cups nameboard  

Boat people are a unique breed. They're fiercely proud of their boats and their ability to sail them. The same people do not usually name their cars or their motorcycles or their homes. They do not exchange “car cards” or wear their unique car name on their caps. Their boats acquire a personality of their own, it seems, and require not only catchy names, but new ways of expressing their owners' personality as well.

“Nine of Cups” was named for a tarot card meaning “dreams realized”. It's a unique name and we've never seen another boat with the same name. I received a beautiful tarot deck from my sister for my fiftieth birthday along with a dummy's guide for reading tarot cards. I had never done tarot before, but it seemed interesting and David was the obvious choice as my guinea pig. In a classic tarot Celtic spread, David would choose 10 of 78 cards at random and make a wish. If the Nine of Cups (akin to the nine of hearts in a regular deck of cards) was chosen, his wish would come true. Time and time again, that Nine of Cups appeared. Since we're living our dream, I'd say the cards did well.


seahorse logo


Once aboard, we found that people on boats exchange boat cards. I found inexpensive stationery software with a business card format, bought blank cards and made boat cards. I downloaded nautical clipart including a compass rose and used it. It seemed generic, but I couldn't think of anything better. That is until we were walking along a street in Halifax, Nova Scotia about a year later and we saw a marvelous gate with seahorses and tridents. It was beautiful and seemed to reflect Nine of Cups' personality. We photographed it and massaged the photo with a Paint program and voilá, it became Cups' logo.

Beyond adding this logo to our boat card, we began expanding our horizons. With a unique logo to go with our unique name, we were able to create all sorts of things that reflected our pride in ownership. Not only did we use the logo on boat cards, but we found a company that would add our embroidered logo for free to shirts and caps and didn't require large quantity orders.


valentines day card


Using the seahorse motif from the logo, David carved beautiful name boards in mahogany and gilded them for Cup's bow. Greeting cards from Valentines to Christmas wishes incorporated our logo. Nine of Cups thank you cards were a big hit with many people who really appreciated that personalized touch which became a memento of a visit or special time. It also alleviated the need to shop for cards, allowed us to use our imaginations and insured we always had the right card on hand.

Documenting our travels with journals and photographs has been a priority since we first left the dock at Kemah, Texas back in 2000. I had a cheap digital camera for photos and used a college-lined subject notebook for journal entries. Our family and friends were interested in our travels, so I created a photo-journal simply named “Passages” that I updated regularly and sent home on CD's to share.

Having a website seemed the next logical step and it wasn't long until we registered our domain name and created a rudimentary website. I upgraded my camera for better photos and continued the handwritten journal. The offline tools for the website were poor and internet access in the Caribbean and South America was slow and expensive early on. Then a free download of Yahoo Sitebuilder became available for off-line website work, wifi and broadband on the boat became available and now maintaining the website was fun, easy and inexpensive.

Though I no longer maintain an offline photojournal, we do a holiday newsletter annually which we post to the website. We also print and mail copies for those relatives and friends who prefer a hard copy in hand to read, share and save.

Because we can't upload website updates when we are at sea or in internet-inaccessible areas (and there are still some), we began blogging via SailBlogs which allowed a daily update of our travels, adventures and more mundane day-to-day activities. Last year, our niece Gentry convinced us to do a more elaborate blogsite, Just a Little Further, which reflects not only life and travels aboard Nine of Cups, but our life in general. Now no matter where we are on land or sea, I can post to the blog and folks know where we are and what we're doing. Amazingly, we've heard from folks around the globe including more remote places like Newfoundland, the Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic.

From an initial desire to develop a unique identity for Nine of Cups and her crew, we've managed to document our travels, “meet” a myriad of people from around the world who share our love of sailing and travel and also create a personality for Nine of Cups. Because after all, she's an important part of our family.