By Joan Gilmore
Asked to officiate at the wedding of sailing friends in the Caribbean, Captain Gilmore also wrote their vows. . .
CAPTAIN GILMORE: We are gathered here today before this beautiful sunset and in this community of faithful crewmembers to join in holy matrimony <bride’s name> and <groom’s name>, steadfast sailors and seafaring adventurers.
If anyone knows of any reason that these two should not be joined in marriage, speak now or forever hold your peace.
Without further ado and before either of the parties can come to their senses, we will proceed with this holy and everlasting sacrament.
<bride’s name> and <groom’s name>, should storms shiver thy timbers, and should squalls collapse thy sails, do you promise to find succor and shelter in the safe harbor of each others’ arms? If so, answer, “We do.”
BRIDE AND GROOM: We do.
CAPTAIN GILMORE: <bride’s name>, as you tack through the tall ships of the high seas and navigate the bare poles of the harbors, will you promise to drop your docklines solely over the stalwart bollard post of <groom’s name>? If so, answer, “I will.”
BRIDE: I will.
CAPTAIN GILMORE: <groom’s name>, should <bride’s name> sail aluff, do you promise to always, faithfully, retrieve her with thy dinghy? If so, answer, “I will.”
GROOM: I will.
CAPTAIN GILMORE: And <groom’s name>, after sunset each day, will you forsake the song of the Sirens and drop thy anchor only in the designated anchorage … of <bride’s name>? If so, answer, “I will.”
GROOM: I will.
CAPTAIN GILMORE: May I have the rings?
May these rings be blessed with the power to anchor these young lovers forever to each other. May their fingers forever be woven together through the strength of this eternal circle. May their hearts forever share the same blood and beat as one organ. May their fates be as intertwined as a rafted-together flotilla after a very hard squall, so that their anchor tackle is tangled and hewn into a forever knot that cannot be separated by any man, woman, or fid. This we wish for them into eternity.
Friends gathered here today, Will you support this union? If so, all answer, “We will.”
ALL: “We will.”
CAPTAIN GILMORE: <groom’s name>, please ring your prize.
<bride’s name>, please ring your treasure.
<bride’s name>, with the powers of the deep vested in me by Neptune, I hereby consign to you charge of your First Mate, <groom’s name>.
<groom’s name>, I hereby consign you to the love and care of your new mate, <bride’s name>. You may now embrace your new Admiral and Commander for Life. And you may kiss the bride, for you are wed.
Three cheers for the new couple!
ALL: Hip, hip, hooray! Hip, hip, hooray! Hip, hip, hooray!
Captain Joan GiImore holds a master’s degree in adult learning styles and uses that expertise as lead sailing instructor at Sail Away Sailing School in Minnesota. She has been an Instructor Evaluator for the American Sailing Association (ASA) since 2000, training Small Boat through Advanced Coastal Cruising instructors in the US, Japan, and Caribbean. She is the former ASA Education Coordinator and now serves on three non-profit sailing boards and writes articles for Sailing and other national magazines.