Kathy Osgood's boat is an extension of herself.
Her hopes and dreams are wrapped up in it. From the time she was a child, watching riverboat movies, she wanted to be on the water. She and her husband refurbished the boat together, outfitting it with a bed and shower and other comforts that allow Mrs. Osgood to spend a good portion of her time on the Savannah River while her husband is pulling long stretches on the road as a truck driver.
And the boat holds her future - she's working on a book of river stories she hopes to have published. So it seemed only natural that the boat's name - O'Kathy - should reflect her close identification with it.
"Everybody has a dream, and this was mine," Mrs. Osgood says, stepping from the O'Kathy's deck onto the dock at the Augusta Riverfront Marina. "We started from scratch, and little by little we put it together. She was the O'Kathy, the Kathy O. - she was my dream."
Naming a boat can be an intensely personal thing, a flight of fancy or a clever play on words. It's an anthropomorphic rite of passage that reveals as much about the owner's personality as the boat's. It is, in some ways, like naming a child - so many choices, but it has to be perfect. You can pick up a book full of baby names at the grocery checkout. But how does a boat owner choose?
Many stick to the tried and true, naming their boats after the important people in their lives - usually female, reflecting the convention of referring to vessels in the feminine. Countless boats bear the names of mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends. After years with the O'Kathy, the Osgoods are replacing it a larger vessel - the Laura, named for Mrs. Osgood's sister and her mother-in-law.When Wendell and Mary Hall bought their trawler in Florida, she was the Patricia III. The North Augusta couple replaced that name with one more personally meaningful.
"Have you ever heard that song Dreamboat Annie by Heart?" Mr. Hall asks. "Well, my mother's name was Ann, so I figured that would be the perfect name for the boat."
Some people won't rename a boat, sticking with whatever the original owner emblazoned on it. "Most of them here are already named when people buy them - and from what they tell me it's bad luck to change the name of a boat," says Eva Stanford, who runs the store at Plum Branch Marina in Plum Branch, S.C.
Some names are used over and over again. Of the top 10 boat names for 1999, compiled by the Boat Owners Association of the United States, none are personal names. Instead, the top choices elicit the lure of the open water and the wind in your face: Misty, Flying Cloud, Wind Dancer.
Boat names can reveal much about the owner, signifying heritage - Irish Witch - or giving clues to a profession - Knot Guilty, owned by Augusta attorney Jim Blanchard. Clever plays on maritime words, such as Time Aweigh or Gypsea, also are common. And many express the freedom found in spending time on the water, the ability to cast off and float, away from the worries of the landlocked world: Indulgence, Escape, Anticipation, Endless Summer - all docked at Tradewinds Marina and Yacht Club.
"There are all kinds of different names out there," Ms. Stanford says. "We've got the Jailbreaker here, and the Finally ... it's not like the big ships that used to always be named after women."
For Carl Routh, Dream's End was just the beginning. As an 8-year-old boy, he used to spend time near Niagara Falls in a rowboat with a motor attached to the back, watching the rich people in their lake cruisers. And he dreamed.
"I said to myself, `One day, I'm going to own a boat like that.' And the dream ended because I finally got it," he says with a laugh. "It wasn't just a dream anymore. My wife and I bought a 30-foot cruiser. And then she started wanting a bigger boat."
Which the couple promptly named Dream's End II.
Here are the top 10 most popular boat names for 1999, according to the Boat Owners Association of the United States. The organization started compiling the list of most-requested boat names in 1991.
2. Flying Cloud
4. Irish Wake
5. Wind Dancer
6. Seas the Day
9. Luna Sea
The organization's Web site (boatus.com) lists more than 1,500 boat names. Other names that have appeared in the top 10 through the years include Therapy, Fantasea, Liquid Asset and Seaduction.
Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.