Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Boat Launch is Nigh

The boat launch for our stupendous 26-foot, 7-plank, wine-glass-transom White Hall gig is next Friday - see my other post for more details. In the mean time, the debate over its future name continues. The Great Gary has four votes, tied with QueeQueg. Plus, there is a new contender: Sialia sialis. This is the scientific name for New York's state bird, the Bluebird.

Dayyan Armstrong sent the class a persuasive essay to argue his cause. The Great Gary still stands for me. Some of you would fully understand my reasoning for why. I urge the rest to explore this website. As for Sialia sialis, it's a good name. And Dayyan's letter is too good not to re-print in full:

** Proprietary **

Dear fellow yachtsman,

The naming of a boat is a difficult task that no sailor enjoys and no sailor should
take lightly. The burden of that decision affects not only the individual, but every
patron, friend and foe alike for many generations to come. A successful name for
a boat should represent first and foremost, the boat itself; however, the name should also
resemble its region, purpose, and craft of that vessel. That is why
I am asking each of you fellow yachtsman, woman, and children alike, to consider the
Our gig we have all labored over to be named: Sialia sialis, or Bluebird. Sialia sialis is the
scientific name for New York's state bird, the Eastern Bluebird. As we all know, the Whitehall
gig is a native New York boat and it would only give the history of this boat justice if we
named it after New York's finest bird, the Bluebird.
A well developed boat also should have its own unique insignia to distinguish their
boat from another. Given the already voted color schemes, the Eastern Bluebird is
quite similar with a blue and slightly orange coloration. Given the simple and unique
shape of the bird, I propose we brand this gig with an image of the Bluebird on the
gig itself. As you will all see, the Bluebird is a beautiful bird and a great name for a
native New York boat, the Whitehall gig.


Patrons of Rob's class, friends, and fellow boating enthusiasts, please take a moment
and envision the beautiful Bluebird rowing up the Hudson. I assure each and everyone
of you that you will be pleased with your choice of the Bluebird as the name for the
fall 07/spring 08 Lang on the Hudson's Whitehall gig.

With best wishes,
Dayyan J. Armstrong
dictated but not read

Update! Breaking news!

Rob Buchanan, skipper of the boat-building initiative, recently challenged others to "make a case for [their proposed name] to the group, a la dayyan." My friend Pip K. Francis just got back to me about why the Great Gary is such a great name:

Salutations. I've been asked to step in and explain the origins of the name "The Great Gary." Gary, my great-grandfather, was a strong rower - the strongest, perhaps, of all New York. Sad to say, he was not strong enough, for the heavy knots of New York's tidal straits were that which did him in.

It was a bitter cold day that December of 1842, when Reginald Gary Karp set sail against the tide along the Hudson tidal strait. He had the intention to row a 26-foot, 7-plank, wine-glass transom Whitehall gig all by his lonesome up to the orphanage off a rocky bank near Troy. Row it he did. His gig loaded up to the brim with apples, which had been frozen since fall in his cellar to remain fresh, he pushed through the most bruising of cruises. It all paid off once he arrived along the bank of the orphanage, where the poor little children were waiting for him. They had not eaten any apples - only tasteless gruel - for months! They called Gary Karp a hero, that day. Then he rowed home and died along the way.

It would be very important not only to my family but to the entire New York state to name this boat the Great Gary. Because Gary Karp is a great man - the greatest man who has ever rowed the great tidal straits that fork great Manhattan. Clearly, it would be greatly disappointing to forget so great a legacy.

All best,
Pip K. Francis

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