Five ways to ditch the important wife

Last week I wrote about the tendency to invite “someone important’s” wife to be the lady sponsor of a new vessel and received a surprising amount of feedback that indicates that many people feel the same way. So here are a few ways to think about choosing someone to break a bottle on the bow.

  1. Find a way to use the honour as an incentive within the company: In other words if you know you are going to launch a vessel in a year’s time, set goals and targets within the company and use it to motivate the team (or more specifically the women in your team).
  2. Create an essay writing or art competition that offers the honour as a prize for a lady learner: Once you have announced the winner, imagine the free publicity for your company as she instagrams the experience to her followers. Boost this by creating a YouTube video that she can share and help focus new eyes on the industry.
  3. Seek a female blogger with a keen interest in the ocean or the maritime world: They’re out there – bloggers and citizen journalists are waiting to talk about their experiences and you can offer them an opportunity that does not come along very often. Trust me, they’ll blog about it and keep blogging about the vessel that they are now intimately attached to as it sails around the globe.
  4. Honour a local/community hero: Keep an eye on the news for those feel-good stories about seemingly ordinary ladies doing extraordinary things and invite them to bless your vessel in the same way they have blessed their communities.
  5. Look for and find that important lady: Yes there are plenty of important men in the maritime world, but there are some important ladies too. Seek them out and put them in the limelight.

Oh – and when you choose the lady sponsor, please make sure that it is abundantly clear to those present why she deserves the honour. A note in your programme will suffice, but certainly a proper introduction from the master (or mistress) of ceremonies will help give her her due.

 

PS: If all else fails and you are still struggling to find a willing arm to swing the bottle to the bow, please feel free to get in touch.  

 

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Ditch the important wife!

Towards the end of last year there were many vessels entering the water for the first time. As a maritime journalist I generally get invited to these events and I am always fascinated by the choice of lady sponsor on these occasions. The tradition of breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow of the vessel before bestowing good wishes on her and her crew continues to hold strong as does the necessity of bequeathing the honour to a woman.

More often than not, however, the women is still the wife of “someone important” and seldom the “someone important”. While I do not want to go as far as to say that this is a sad indictment on the role that women may be playing (or not playing) in the maritime industry, it does make one pause a little.

It is also testament to the lack of a little bit of imagination in the industry. While the usual designated “important person” at a shipping company may not be a woman – it is highly unlikely that there are absolutely no relevant and deserving women within that company that could be acknowledged in this way. Because being given the honour of this tradition just because you are “someone important’s” wife just seems a little archaic.

I do understand that by asking the “someone important’s” wife to crack the bottle, one is actually honouring his position and that this may be the politically correct move, but wouldn’t it be great if he actually deferred from dragging his wife out to a ship that she may have no interest in and took the opportunity to honour someone more directly involved?

So by all means ask “someone important” if he would like his wife to bless the next ship you launch, but let’s hope against all odds that he may have someone even more directly relevant to that ship’s journey in mind.