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AYACUCHO, THE NAME
('y-koo' ch_o)

At-Mooring-3.jpg

Ayacucho is the name of a city in Peru, but the choice of the name has nothing to do with any connection we or the boat might have for the city. Ayacucho was also the name of a sailing ship from the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawaii) that plied the coast of California and Mexico in the early 1800s in search of hides to tan into leather. It is that ship that is the namesake of our Tartan.

I first came across the name while reading Richard Henry Dana's classic chronicle of his sailing experiences in "Two Years Before The Mast". The ships he was on - there were two - occasionally crossed paths with a ship named Ayacucho, and each time that happened Dana expressed considerable admiration for how well sailed and how fast the Ayacucho was. On occasion there would be a pick-up race among a few of the ships that would find themselves bound for the same destination. Every time the Ayacucho did a horizon job on the others. As I read about these episodes I became more intrigued with the name Ayacucho. Maybe, I thought, if I ever get another boat that name could be a possible candidate. The opportunity came a few years later.

But there was another reason that factored into choosing that name. Our last boat was named Lively Lady, and was named that in the end because Joyce and I just could not agree on a new name for the boat after we bought her in 1979. The only way to settle that tiff was to leave the name it already had. That was fine except the rather common name caused some annoyances, such as wondering if the radio calls for Lively Lady were really for us or not. One February night we got a call from the US Coast Guard asking if we knew where our boat was. After I explained that it was out in our yard covered with snow the caller thanked me and started to move on until I stopped him to ask what all this was about. He explained there was some incident that he could not elaborate on, but it involved a boat named Lively Lady. Then he told me that we were number 12 on his list of documented Lively Ladies to call and figured he was about a third of the way down the list. There were several other instances, but you get the idea. Note to self: If there is ever a next boat make sure the name of it is pretty unique - and convince wife of the same.

The option of leaving the old name, Kismet, on the Tartan was not available since the boat was replaced by one named Kismet II. Whereas previous owners Nic and Judy and we would often be sailing together, having two Kismets would be awkward.  

The kids lobbied for Breaking Wind, which intrigued me but wouldn't fly with Joyce. I think she resigned herself to accepting Ayacucho in the absence of having a better alternative.

There has been a downside to having a name like Ayacucho. A surprising number of people struggle with how to pronounce it and many more just wonder what it means. I find I have to explain it more often than I'd like. I once toyed with the idea of naming the dinghy "Gesundheit" but thought better of it. I do get some solace, however, from hearing every now and again comments like "catchy" or "neat name", sometimes coupled with "beautiful boat!"; At least locally, Ayacucho is now generally recognized and accepted, so the hassle is going away.

SailNet*, an online chandlery for sailboat equipment, sponsored two chat lists, among others, that I had found very interesting and useful since I started working on Ayacucho. One is for the Atomic 4 engine owners and the other is for Tartan owners. These lists were a tremendous value for sharing of problems, solutions and general comradery about living with and doing things to these 30-year old classics. After some posts by me signed off with "Jeff Stoehr, T30 #148 Ayacucho", and then having to explain the name to the listers, I got an e-mail from a direct descendent of one of the captains of the Ayacucho in Dana's book. Imagine! - His descendent is a Tartan freak! He was very kind to send me information about the Ayacucho and some of the history of the area in southern California at the time of Dana's travails there. So whether it started that way or not there is now some kinship to the name Ayacucho.

* Sailnet filed for bankruptcy in July 2005. So those chat lists are no longer, but Tartan discussions are now conducted in Yahoo! Groups.