According to the lore of the sea changing the name of a boat brings bad luck, and although there is a ceremony for renaming your boat which is said to help you avoid Poseidon’s wrath, most boaters choose carefully as they decide how to name a boat. There are the old classics which will live on transoms forever, like Mom’s Mink and Second Wind. And there are some names that enjoy epic popularity from coast to coast, such as Aquaholic, Serenity, and Liquid Asset. But most of us want our boats to have unique names which reflect our individual personalities—and that of our boats.
To find that ideal name there are a few loose “rules” one should follow.
7 Tips for Naming Your Boat
1. Boat names should be kept very brief—usually to a single word or two, and on rare occasions three words. Remember that it should be short enough to fit on a transom, and easily understood during a VHF radio broadcast.
2. Traditionally, naming a boat after a special woman in your life was considered appropriate. In modern times, of course, this can translate into naming a boat for a loved one of any nature.
3. Boat names that reflect your profession and/or a hobby you’re passionate about are common. That’s why you’ll often see names like Knot on Call or Doctor’s Orders on boats owned by people in the medical profession.
4. Puns and double-meanings aren’t just fair game, they’re a major-league bonus. Considering this along with number three above explains why attorney’s boats carry names like Alibi, Plead Insanity, or Knot Guilty.
5. A boat’s name should not just reflect the identity of the owner, but must also match the boat itself. It would be ideal, for example, for a professional firefighter to name a center console fishing boat the Hook and Ladder. But if that firefighter owned a high performance boat, something along the lines of Fire-Breather would be a better fit.
6. Naming boats after famous songs, movies, or other cultural arts you love is acceptable—just as long as there’s a nautical theme involved. You’ll see plenty of boats sporting names like Margaritaville and The Black Pearl out there.
7. Boats are often named in a way that’s entertaining. If a glance at your transom makes people laugh, you’ve just helped to make the boating world a better place.
Deciding How to Name Your New Boat
Take all of the above into consideration as you decide what to name your boat, but also take your time about it. Many people feel pressured to come up with a name the day they buy their new boat when in truth, they should be prepared to spend some time getting to know it, first. Like people, individual boats often seem to have their own personalities. It may take you a few weeks, months, or even an entire season to hit upon the perfect name for your pride and joy.
True, this does run afoul of christening traditions, which say you should name your boat prior to its first launch. But in modern times this simply isn’t possible; your new boat was probably tested by the manufacturer and/or dealer, taken for sea trials by other customers, and may have been delivered on its own bottom. So take your time deciding upon a name, and christen the boat when appropriate. In this case, of course, you’ll also want to know how to properly christen a boat.
How to Christen a Boat with its Name
How to christen a boat is open to interpretation, since different cultures have their own set of norms. The Vikings are said to have started the celebration with human sacrifice. Ick. In middle-age Europe holy water was sprinkled over the boat, but good luck finding a supply of holy water in your local WalMart’s refrigerated section. And it was the British Navy which began the familiar practice of smashing a bottle of champagne across the bow, which is not politically correct these days as both broken glass and carbon dioxide can be considered pollutants. More modern boat christening ceremonies consist of a short list of steps:
- Gather some friends and family, then launch the boat and tie it to a pier or dock.
- Pass around a celebratory drink; champagne, wine, or whatever you prefer is acceptable.
- Place a green, leafy branch (of any sort) in the boat to represent a safe return to land.
- Name the boat, make a toast to it, and pour some of the libation over the boat’s bow.
- Go for a boat ride!
If you decide to throw caution into the wind and break an actual bottle of champagne across the bow, remember that champagne bottles are extremely thick and difficult to smash. And not only is it considered bad luck when the bottle doesn’t break on the first swing, you may also cause some gel coat damage if you try to smash it on the hullside. A stainless-steel bow pulpit or cleat makes a much better target. And placing the bottle inside a mesh bag (to catch all the broken glass) is considered appropriate.
Okay: now put on your thinking cap, and try to come up with that ideal name for your boat—It’s About Time to Seas the Day, and when you come up with the perfect moniker you’ll have No Worries, and No Regrets.
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