Our MacGregor 25 Sailboat or, Why Ilya is Named Ilya

January, 2011

When we got our Whip sailboat (Sail # 33 – manufactured by SailMFG) my daughter thought the name North Star sounded pretty good.  I didn’t have any objections, and since it was a name that I would never have gotten to on my own, I thought it might be somewhat providential, and supported the name.  Mind you, since we only used that boat on three occasions because it was just too small for the four of us, we never actually put a physical name on it.  We just thought of it as North Star, and that was the end of it.  When we (I) realized that the entire family might at least tolerate sailing, I decided it was time to buy a larger boat.

Somehow, my search lead to me a great non-profit in the Annapolis area, CRAB: Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating.  CRAB is “dedicated to making the thrill of sailing a reality for physically and/or developmentally-challenged individuals and for those individuals whose financial circumstances preclude their participation in recreation on the waters of Chesapeake Bay.”  They hold open sailing days throughout the sailing season on specially equipped boats that allow people with a variety of disabilities to enjoy the fun of sailing.  CRAB receives donations of boats, and sells them in order to raise money to fund the operation.  I happened to go to their website (http://crabsailing.org/), found a few boats that sounded good, and conferred with the Executive Director.  After looking at several boats at a marina in Arnold, MD, I decided to purchase a 1984 MacGregor 25 in very good condition.

When we bought the Macgregor 25, there was no name on it, and naming it seemed like an important responsibility.  My daughter went with me when I paid for the boat, and seemed genuinely excited about the purchase.  We discussed several boat names on the way home, knowing that we had to confer with my wife and son before any final decision was made.  Several names came to mind:

Thunderbird

Firebird

Yin Yang the symbol, not the words

North Star

Riptide

Hercules

Nighthawk

Defiant (I always preferred Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

Rebel

Topaz

Raven

Moonglow

Evening Star

We really didn’t make any headway in discussing the name among the 4 of us, and we agreed that perhaps my sailing/ motoring the boat down to Solomons might provide some insights.  Actually, it did.  Our last couple of hours was in the dark with a full moon, so all of a sudden Moonglow and Evening Star became my favorites.  Hercules I reserved as a nickname for the engine.  And they were at the bottom of the list for my son and daughter.  At this time, I pretty much decided that I didn’t want a name for the damn boat.  I mean, there isn’t a law about that, right?

Well, for the December holidays (we celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa) we traveled to Florida for an acting program, and took an important side trip to kayak with the manatees.  My daughter is enthralled with manatees and has been for years.  After kayaking with these animals in Florida, we were all hooked.  I even have a manatee cursor for my computer.  One of my daughter’s holiday gifts was to adopt a manatee from the Save the Manatee Club.  We chose a manatee who had been seen in both Cape Cod, where we used to vacation, in New Jersey where we used to live and in the Chesapeake Bay, where we live now.  His name is Ilya and he may be one of the most famous manatees in the country, as noted in this post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/30/ilya-the-manatee-rescued-_n_338829.html.

The name Siren or Sirenian, the genus of manatees was my first suggestion, but my daughter said, “why don’t we just name the boat after Ilya?”  And so it goes.

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