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Cape Cod A Woman Named For A Ship

The masters of Cape Cod schooners, especially those who sailed the “Injies Trade” (the West Indies runs) were prouder of their ships than modern males, young or old, are of their new cars. The schooners were given names of every derivation and meaning. They were named after the stars, captain’s home towns, or exotic foreign ports.

Sometimes they would have coined names, consisting of a syllable from three or four ports, or three or four members of the family. It was not unusual for some shipmasters in the old days to be not more than nineteen-years old. These men most frequently bestowed the names of wives, or sweethearts on their ships.

Captain Benjamin, a sworn bachelor and master of one of the sleekest, fastest schooners in the Indies’ fleet, had chosen a name singularly unsentimental. The captain called his ship the Watch Dog.

He loved his ship dearly and he told anyone who would listen that he only had to “talk soft to her and she would heel like a faithful dog.”

Captain Benjamin was indeed an eligible bachelor, handsome in a thoroughly masculine way, not yet thirty and possessed of a picturesque command of language. And at last he was caught by Mehitabel Drew, a lovely young thing from Yarmouth. They were married at an elaborate ceremony.

But in spite of the fact that a newly married captain always rechristened his ship after his bride, Captain Benjamin did nothing about renaming the Watch Dog.

The townspeople began to talk. Finally behind-hand talk changed to outspoken comments, and Captain Benjamin’s friends asked him if he intended to change the Watch Dog to the Mehitabel B.

“Wal,” drawled Captain Benjamin, “I been thinkin’, but not in that direction. I haven’t seen fittin’ to change a good ship’s name for a mere woman, but if Mehitty keeps on a-bein’ as steady as she’s been up t’ now, I might have her rechristened Watch Dog.

It is also known among superstitious mariners that renaming a vessel can be bad luck.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 10/23/06
Categories: History
Keywords: history, maritime


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