The name

Why the name Phosphorus?

I wanted to have a boat beginning Pho... (maybe I'll add the story why one day) and names such as Phoenix were far too common. Resorting to the dictionary I found a few other possibilities, including Phosphorus.

While most people think of Phosphorus as the name of a chemical element, the origin of the name predates the discovery of the element by many centuries. It is in fact the Greek for "bringer of the light" and is a name used to refer to the Morning Star. That is, the planet Venus when appearing in the sky before dawn. This made it seem a very suitable name for a yacht. And classical names always appeal to yachtsmen.

In ancient Greek culture Phosphorus was personified as a minor deity, brother to Hesperus (the evening star) and child of Eos, the dawn. Eos was in turn sister to Selene, the moon. As such these family members were sometimes portrayed together, e.g. in this sculpture.

Having sailed on Selene, a Swan owned by Adrian Lower, this gave the name extra relevance.

The name, Phosphorus, is translated directly into Latin as Lucifer, a suitably racy name. In fact one which is used by a number of yachts. Of course Lucifer was the Rebel Angel which added to the relevance, having sailed many times on Rebel, the Farr 45 owned by Stewart Whitehead.

Finally, remember that Hesperus was used as the name of sailing vessels including a particularly famous exemplar which came to a bad end. Despite the Wreck, there was later a destroyer named HMS Hesperus. So while much rarer Phosphorus made sense as a boat name. (The name Hesperus is used together with Phosphorus in a famous example in the philosophy of language.)

So having come up with a few candidate names for the boat, Phosphorus had the most layers of meaning and it just seemed to fit the original boat.

At the time I also thought Phosphorus was a very rare name for a boat which increased the appeal. But I have recently (Feb 2018) discovered that a 50 ton racing cutter was built in 1862 with the name Phosphorus. So while it has been used before it is still quite obscure but with some pedigree:

Extract from British Yachts and Yachtsmen of 1907