On the origin of the boat’s name

July 29th

I occasionally get asked how I chose the name Grey Fox.   It’s the fifth small boat (if you include kayaks) that I’ve built,  but the first one I have bothered to give a name to.   So the first question might be why name a 16-foot boat at all?

My wife and I did the Small Reach Regatta in Maine a couple of summers ago, and we found that seeing our boat called “Jim’s dory” in the fleet guide wasn’t very satisfying.  Plus if we had to hail any other boat on the VHF, they all had cool names to use as simple radio callsigns, and all we had was… Jim’s dory.  The new boat would definitely need a name.  Furthermore, the CIY has a beautiful huge transom, so I had a place to plaster a name.

Since I spent months building the boat, I had months to come up with a name.   I came up with a few not-so-good names, although none were as bad as some of the cutesy names you see on boats out there:  “Just for the Halibut”… “Campbell’s Sloop” …”Knot 2 Bad”… “Mom’s Mink”… the list goes on.  Just google “really bad boat names” if you want a laugh.

I was leaning towards “Firefly” which was the name of the first keelboat my father’s family owned.  It was a Crowninshield-designed Manchester 27.  I never saw it, just the half-model of it that my grandfather had on the wall in his house,  but it was a very pretty boat.  My son objected, reasoning that he had heard me talk about how I expected my CIY to be a fast boat, and fireflies are slow.  They just hover.  Plus they glow yellow, and my boat was grey.   My wife stepped in and said “if you’re going to name it after an animal, why not name it Grey Fox after your beloved Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival?  Foxes are fast, and your boat is grey, so it works!

The name stuck and Grey Fox it became.  I know, it’s not very nautical.  If you’re going to name a boat after an animal, it should probably be a seabird, or a fish, or a whale.   Shearwater, or Dorado, or Narwhal.  (Not a mermaid — that would put you quite firmly in the tacky column above).  But there is no Striped Bass Bluegrass Festival.  Although bass fishermen and bluegrass fans may share some common genes…

I bring this up because I just got back from a long weekend spent at the utterly awesome Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York. It’s just a fantastic festival, with a gorgeous outdoor setting at the foot of the Catskill mountains, a wonderfully friendly vibe, and great musicians (and not just the performers —  many of the attendees bring their instruments and jam in the campground day and night). This annual event is one of the highlights of my summer — maybe the only highlight that occurs on land.

While I was there I procured this high-end custom yacht crew-wear:

IMG_1344Since the entire crew of Grey Fox is often just me, I think it is appropriate, and well within my budget, that the whole crew be outfitted in this uniform.  Take that, Larchmont Yacht Club Race Week crews with your spiffy matching outfits embroidered with your boat names!




Author: Larchmont Jim

A 50-something investment banker from Larchmont, New York (about 15 miles from midtown Manhattan). Amateur small boat sailer, boatbuilder, kayaker, musician. I grew up spending summers sailing the New England coast on my grandfather’s beautiful 47’ 1952 Sparkman & Stevens wooden yawl. I’ve lived in Larchmont, a major and historic sailing center on Long Island Sound, for 25 years, but career and family obligations kept me off the water for all of my 30s and 40s, and only about 7 years ago did I get back on the water, first in sea kayaks, and then in small boats.

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