Good luck: Chris Gauntlett, right, owner of Blue Water Divers, leads the recital to purge the dive boat of the old name Tsunami and christen it Modern Sinbad. *Photo by Amanda Dale
Good luck: Chris Gauntlett, right, owner of Blue Water Divers, leads the recital to purge the dive boat of the old name Tsunami and christen it Modern Sinbad. *Photo by Amanda Dale

A tale of heroism and triumph over adversity was the inspiration behind the renaming of Blue Water Divers’ dive boat at the weekend.

Owner Chris Gauntlett — who took over the business in June of last year — held a ceremony to mark the renaming of the Tsunami to the Modern Sinbad.

The event, on Saturday, was not only a chance to celebrate the first year of new ownership but was also steeped in nautical tradition.

Mr Gauntlett chose the name after an epic tale in his own family history, that of Captain Alyward Dingle who sailed his 28 ft sloop, Gauntlet, singlehandedly from New York to Bermuda from August 14 to September 9, 1918.

Captain Dingle was not only the first sailor to complete the Atlantic crossing solo but had the misfortune of encountering a hurricane on the way.

The Englishman was on his way to settle in Bermuda with the family dog, Trixie, as his only companion; his wife and two daughters having gone ahead by steamer.

During the voyage a squall split the mainsail and jib. It was very hot and Trixie, an Airedale, started to get sick.

According to a Royal Gazette article of October 23, 1955, Captain Dingle then encountered a wreck on August 17, at about 166 miles from Sandy Hook.

The article states: “A mass of wreckage was passed alive with sharks, who were fighting and tearing bodies among the wreckage”.

During the journey, the sloop “pitched heavily” and the water tank was stowed in, leading the drinking water to leak into the bilges. All that was left was two gallons in emergency bottles.

The sextant then broke and another pitch of the Gauntlet knocked the chronometer into the ocean. The sloop started leaking heavily, while the smaller jib also got shredded.

As the sloop neared Bermuda on September 3, a hurricane then hit, pitching the vessel into further chaos and breaking the boom in heavy seas.

Captain Dingle shared out his remaining water with the dog and threw his gun into the ocean, to prevent any temptation to shoot the sick animal.

Mr Gauntlett said: “He lost three sets of sails and was running out of food and water, but was only about 30 miles from Bermuda when the hurricane hit.

“Eventually, at about 60 miles offshore, he was spotted by an American patrol boat and was towed to the island.

“The dog recovered, but was actually turned red from the dye from the lifejacket. The boat was in bad shape but was later sold to an American guy. She was later dismantled in 1949 and then abandoned at Minor’s boat slip in St David’s.

“The bilge pump however, hangs at my parents’ home in Somerset.”

Captain Dingle’s daughter, Muriel, married Ernest Gauntlett — Mr Gauntlett’s grandfather. The Gauntlett family history dates back several generations in Bermuda, to the 1700’s.

Mr Gauntlett said the decision to rename Tsunami was a tribute to his family’s heritage.

“We came up with the idea of renaming the boat earlier this year and thought it would be a good way of marking our first anniversary, but then there was some bad weather and the season also got very busy, so we postponed it until later this summer.

“The name Modern Sinbad has all the family connections and reflects a tale of triumph over adversity.

“My father (Ted Gauntlett)’s sister, my aunt Janet Percy, had done some research years ago into our family history so I had known the story for a while.

“It was a coincidence that Captain Dingle’s boat was called Gauntlet. Captain Dingle then entitled his autobiography The Modern Sinbad, in 1933.

He added: “Also, our dive shop manager Ina-Bianca (Kuesters) never liked the name. She is a survivor of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and came to Bermuda from Thailand, where she lost all her personal effects and witnessed the aftermath.

“My family has been very supportive through the whole process of buying the company (Blue Water Divers) and so it seemed like an important connection to make, hence the name Modern Sinbad.”

Tsunami herself also seemed to be getting impatient about her rechristening, according to Mr Gauntlett.

On Saturday morning, the dive boat experienced mechanical problems with the cooling water pump in the engine.

Mr Gauntlett said: “I think that was the boat telling me to hurry up and get on with the renaming.”

On Saturday evening, family, friends, Blue Water Divers crew and club members were all invited to the renaming ceremony and barbecue, which involved reciting the words of a ritual ceremony along with the captain.

Mr Gauntlett had researched different traditions for the renaming of a vessel, in order to ward off bad luck, and chose one recommended by several other mariners.

This involved eradicating all references of the old name Tsunami. The name was written in water soluble ink onto a metal ingot and thrown off the bow into the sea.

“The idea is that all trace of the old name is washed away over time,” said Mr Gauntlett.

Champagne was also poured into the depths, from east to west, to appease Poseidon, Ruler of the Seas, who was asked to remove Tsunami from his Ledger of the Deep.

Once the ‘purging’ was complete, the renaming took place with Mr Gauntlett officially unveiling the boat’s new lettering, the Modern Sinbad.

A further spoken appeal was then made to the four Gods of the Winds — Boreas (North Wind), Zephyrus (East), Eurus (West) and Notus (South).

The crew then poured more champagne (Veuve Clicquot) into the harbour, at Robinson’s Marina, Somerset Bridge, to request safe passage for the Modern Sinbad.

Mr Gauntlett said: “I hope the Modern Sinbad will continue to be an important part of the company going forward.

“The renaming brought everyone together, and everyone enjoyed the party. We are now looking forward to more continuous years of success.”


For more on Blue Water Divers call 234-1034 or see or Facebook/Blue Water Divers & Watersports — Bermuda.