When I first met my husband, Robb, he owned a Wauquiez Gladiator 33— a sturdy, beamy sailboat that took to the Atlantic Ocean like a whale with wings as he raced her around the Cape of Good Hope and along South Africa’s west coast. She was a cheeky yacht, always up in front with the bigger girls and easy to spot with her lipstick-red hull. Her name? Second Love.
“Clever name for a boat!” friends would say to him. “That should keep your wife happy!”
“Not really,” Robb would reply. “I have two boats!”
A few years later, we said good-bye to Second Love and bought a Montevideo 43. We had to change her name, and not wanting to incur Neptune’s wrath, I researched the correct procedures for renaming a boat. Once I knew the rules, I carefully removed from the boat everything that bore her previous name.
According to Roman mythology, one has to ask Neptune to remove the original name from the Ledger of the Deep. For the ceremony, we stood solemnly with friends while holding two bottles of champagne. Robb popped the first cork very loudly to summon the sea god; I dropped a tag with the boat’s previous name on it into the sea. This was supposed to be followed by a few drops of champagne, but instead there was a large splash—the sacrificial slurp for Neptune was accidentally the entire bottle!
After much laughter, we all agreed that such a generous gift could only bring good fortune. But one remaining bottle of bubbly wouldn’t suffice for our libations, so I rummaged down below and found six bottles of red wine, most of which we shared with our guests. While Robb opened the last champagne bottle very carefully, I called on the wind gods and read the blessing. He gently poured the champagne over the bow, pocketing the cork for use as an emergency bung. Warning: Naming your boat, like choosing a mate, shouldn’t be taken lightly! We named her Summer Love, and at the end of the evening, I used the remaining red wine to take the direct route to the Captain’s heart by creating poached pears with mint chocolate sauce.
1 cup sugar
2 cups red wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 strip orange peel
6 ripe, firm pears, peeled,
with stalks intact
4 ounces mint chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sprigs of fresh mint (optional)
In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the wine. Add cinnamon stick, clove, orange peel, and pears. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. If the liquid doesn’t quite cover the pears, turn pears halfway through cooking and baste them throughout. Leave pears to cool in liquid (preferably covered, in fridge, overnight). Take half the poaching liquid and return it to the saucepan. Discard the rest. Heat gently and reduce until thick and syrupy.
Heat cream in a saucepan until it starts to bubble around the edges. Break up the chocolate and melt in the cream, stirring constantly. Place each pear on a plate. Spoon syrup over each pear and drizzle with the mint chocolate sauce. Garnish with fresh mint and fresh cinnamon sticks or sweet biscotti, if available. Serves six.