Totem’s boat swag

Our cruising mentors had helped us internalize just how important your boat name will be as a part of your cruising life. That name is your identity. Cruisers you meet- you will know them better in a day than the people you lived next door to for years, but odds are that they will never learn your last name. Nope. They’ll just know you by your boat name. Strange as it may seem, this name is who you are to most of the cruising community that you will meet…and how you represent and share that name is more important than you realize as a pre-cruiser.

Totem’s logo. We wanted the Haida orca as a reminder of our home. Korum Bischoff designed this, even incorporating our children’s faces into the image. It is perfect for us, and I truly adore it. Which is good, because it’s on our transom, our boat cards, an official stamp…and probably more to come.

So no pressure, right? Choosing the right name not only has to be memorable to your fellow travelers and sundowner mates, it must also be radio-friendly (not too long!), internationally pronounceable (it’s clever, but how many of you can pronounce passepartout correctly? And if you happened to take your boat into a country that doesn’t speak English, will pronunciation of your chosen name be easier or harder? And god forbid the situation ever arises, but will search & rescue wherever you happen to be in the world recognize and accurately repeat that name over static and chaos?), and now- that name must also encompass your ethos. Sure- nooooo problem.

Now tack onto that name a brand identity. I’m sorry, but I worked in marketing for too long, and this how my mind works. Like it or not, you are a brand. What does your boat’s name and/or iconography say about you?

Given my background in marketing and work in (shhh!) advertising, it’s odd and maybe a little sad that it hadn’t occurred to me should make how I share this branding in a more concrete manner with my fellow cruisers a priority before we left.

It took our neighbor at the Harbour Pub marina to point this out. Kurt and his family had lived and cruised on their boat, Gumbo Ya-Ya, for years. He works in professional imaging, and his son Korum– a former cruising kid- is a talented designer who created our Haida-style orca icon for Totem. As our cast-off date approached, Kurt asked tactfully what we had planned in the way of boat cards. “Nothing,” our blithe reply. Geez, didn’t he realize we had more important things to deal with- like getting that HF running and making sure our autopilot spares worked? Well- bless him, he did, and Kurt also showed up at our going-away with a box of 500 cards with our name, key contact details, and the beautiful orca logo as a parting gift. He knew from experience, in a way that we could not yet appreciate, that these would be important.

Blow me away. And you know what? This has been such an extremely useful vehicle for us. Yeah, you can share and collect boat cards to help stay in touch with the people you meet. Even in our very digital age, we keep parts of our life relatively analog. We aren’t toting smart phones around teh overhwelming majority of the time- it’s not practical or necessary. Boat cards are a concrete reminder of good times with other boats and people you have met, and have helped us connect and stay in touch.

Next year, we’ll be in Southeast Asia, and I’m looking forward to getting beyond the card with our boat swag. I’m expecting printing to be more affordable there than it is here in Australia (where everything seems to be expensive). Friends of ours have cool tanks or tees or other articles with line drawings and boat names or logos: they make great gifts and are fun for them to wear, too. Honestly, if I’d appreciated this sooner I would probably have had a bunch printed up before we left. It’s a great gift for someone you have gotten to know in a place, where you want to leave a little part to remind them your time together.

9 Responses

  1. I know you’re out of the US, so it won’t help you, but in the US there’s an online company called Vistaprint that does hats, t-shirts, boat cards and tons more stuff at the best prices (by far) that I’ve seen. And Google on “vistaprint discounts” to get discount codes — often one-third to one-half off. I had them do t-shirts for The Boat Galley and got 4 shirts, printed front and back, for $45 including shipping. They’re not heavy shirts but not chintzy, either.

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