How To Name Your Boat (and Why It Matters)

Turn your vessel into a true pearl with these tips on how to name your boat.

The Codfather. Deep Ship. Unsinkable II.

Here’s a fun exercise: Can you guess what these words all have in common?

A)    They’re titles of Steven Seagal movies
B)    They’re sandwiches from a famous New York deli
C)    They’re code words for famous political scandals
D)    They’re boat names

If you answered D, you know your nautical trivia (or you read the title of this post — either way, it took effort).

As a boater, it’s a rite of passage (and legal requirement) to christen your watercraft with a fitting moniker. And, as the above examples show, this glorious tradition allows for a healthy dollop of creativity, humor, and whimsy.

But even though the options seem limitless (or perhaps because of that fact), dreaming up just the right name can be stressful. After all, unlike celebrity children, boats can’t be called just anything. When your vessel’s name is prominently tattooed on its haunches, it’s got to leave a good impression in its wake.

That’s exactly why it pays to have some help, a rudder on your route to tagging triumph. This boating season, use these pointers to find a great name for your boat.

How to name your boat: 5 easy guidelines

1. Think about safety

Although I made a briny ballyhoo over the creative possibilities of naming your boat, there’s a good reason to remain at least somewhat practical. In an emergency, you’ll need to be able to effectively relay your boat’s name to the Coast Guard and you don’t want any miscommunication (your life could depend on it).

That’s why names with one or 2 syllables that roll off the tongue are typically the safest. While My Ex-Wife Got the Mansion or Toy Boat Toy Boat Toy Boat might get you chuckles around the marina, you assume some added risk by choosing them.

2. Avoid clichés

If you’ve ever set foot on a dock, you’ve probably seen hackneyed handles such as Seas the Day, Second Wind, and Aquaholic floating by. Sure, these are easy fallbacks when naming your boat, but do they apply to you? I mean, are you truly an Aquahol connoisseur or merely a social boater? These are the tough questions you have to ask yourself.

The best boat names reveal something unique about the boater. And, especially if you’re new to the boating world, having a memorable, thoughtful name for your boat can be the best way to integrate yourself into the nautical community.

3. Consider a woman’s touch

The best boat names don’t get too cute or force something jokey. If you’re stuck, nothing is quite as tasteful or timeless as using a female name for your boat. Need more reason? Well, aside from the fact that every boat is a “she” at heart (just a core principle of maritime genetics), according to some experts, giving human traits to inanimate objects can inspire more responsible, attentive ownership — which could mean fewer costly repairs.

Whether you’re inspired by your wife, daughter, mother, or grade-school lunch lady, naming your boat after an important woman in your life never goes out of style.

4. Watch how you portray yourself

Just as driving a sports car with the vanity plate “SPD DMON” might grab a cop’s attention, naming your boat Feeling Nauti or 3 Sheets might get you unwanted attention from authorities like the Coast Guard, or simply repel fellow boaters who, frankly, aren’t feeling as nauti. By all means, be playful with your boat’s name — just remember that, ultimately, it’s a reflection of you.

5. Take your time

It’s hard to wait, what with your boat just sitting there begging to be enjoyed. But you’ll regret a hasty name choice you’re not proud of. Comb the depths of your mind for something that speaks to you, such as a favorite location or special detail about your watercraft. And hey, even if it’s a word or phrase whose importance is a bit more cryptic — like an old pet’s name or obscure song lyric— that can be OK too (again, as long as it’s easy to say and fairly tasteful). The possibilities could fill an ocean, but you have to wade through some seaweed before you hit gold.

Have your own tips for naming your boat? Know any great examples to show off? Share them in the comments below and help spread the aquatic artistry.

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