Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Speakeasy Got Her Name

As soon as I started contemplating owning a boat, I began working on her name. Names are important to me. I thought of the elements: the sky and water and wind. One morning while I was still half-asleep, the name Starwave fell from the heavens, you might say, and splashed into the waves, so to speak. Immediately I envisioned the name painted on her hull. I saw a flag waving in the breeze emblazoned with three stars above a scalloped wave. When I realized that my design was a dead ringer for the flag of Aargau--the Swiss canton of which I am a citizen, this similarity solidified my choice.

Starwave spoke to me but not to anyone else. Conversations went like this:

“I’ve chosen the name for the sailboat I plan to own someday.”

“Really? What?”



No one understood the name Starwave.

Then I met Bob Bilhorn who has circumnavigated the globe on his 47’ Stephens sailboat Tally Ho. One day as he and I sailed up the Chicago shoreline, Bob explained why a boat’s name must be easy to recognize and remember. When sailing in Indonesia, Tally Ho had pulled up alongside a huge tanker. After exchanging names and pleasantries, the tanker filled up some empty jerry cans with diesel fuel and lowered them down. The boats parted ways.

Not long after, a huge motorboat approached Tally Ho at great speed. Bob immediately radioed on Channel 16,“Tally Ho here to approaching unidentified motor vessel. What are your intentions? Repeat Tally Ho here. What are your intentions?”

The boat veered off. Bob explained, “I knew the tanker monitored Channel 16 and would remember our name and come to our rescue, if need be.”

Scratch Starwave.

By now, Mark and I had joined forces and our boat’s name should reflect our PartnerShip. Maybe Tango Two - we love to tango. Or Jazzbuoy - Mark loves jazz. What if we combine – Bethmark or Mkbeth

Then one morning, a new name dropped from the heavens.

I nudged Mark and whispered, “Speakeasy. The name for our boat.”

“Perfect,” he replied.

You see, my company is Speaking Unlimited, Inc. My book is Speaking Globally. Mark works in the building whose dome housed Al Capone’s notorious speakeasy The Stratosphere Club.

So Speakeasy she is. Easy to recognize and remember--in case we are ever approached by an aggressive unidentified vessel.

In the meantime, we say, “Knock two times and come aboard.”
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