Boat Names: Pro Tips for Naming Your Vessel

Naming a boat can feel a lot like naming your own child – and as any parent can attest, it’s quite a feat to come up with unique and meaningful names these days! Many of us may recall elementary school classrooms filled with Michaels, Peters and Johns – just as marinas across the country are filled with Carpe Diems, Serendipitys and Aquaholics. The stress of boat naming lies in the fact that you know you’d better pick a good one since your naming strategy will be explained and judged for years to come. No doubt you’ve seen a creative name on the transom of a boat passing by and thought, “Now, there’s got to be a good story there!” That’s the reaction to a fantastic boat name that every boat owner wants!

Pro Tips For Naming Your Boat

At Boat Trader, we’ve seen it all: good names, better names, bad names and the absolute worst names. To help boaters come up with treasured boat names that are as creative as they are custom, we offer our top professional tips for boat naming.

#1 – Have the reaction you want in mind

First ask yourself how you want people to read your name. Are you looking for a laugh (inside joke)? A moment of silence (touching tribute)? A thumbs-up (marine-themed, play-on-words)? Once you’ve established this general theme, you can start brainstorming.

#2 – Consider names of family matriarchs

What is your mother’s name? Daughter’s name? Wife’s name? Perhaps even your grandmother’s name – or a combination of these names. For example, old whaling captains were often known for naming their boats after their mother and wife or daughter, such as “Judith-Anne”, or “Elizabeth-Marie”.

Remember that there is a longstanding, widespread tradition of ships being referred to as “she” and most experienced crews consider their ship’s gender to be female.

#3 – Make it personal

Do you have a childhood nickname? What was the name of the street you grew up on? What do you do for a living? The same list of questions that helped you come up with strong security password for online accounts may also be helpful during boat-naming brainstorming. Just make sure you don’t name your boat your go-to password!

#4 – Go Romantic

Where did you meet your significant other? Where was your first kiss? Where was your honeymoon? What was the name of your first crush? Consider the answers to these romance-themed questions and see if they might be a fit for your new boat. After all, you’re bound to fall in love with her anyways!

#5 – Try It Before You Engrave It

Don’t end up on our “worst names list” by forgetting to think about what your boat’s name will sound like over VHF Channel 16 – or every time you meet new dock mates. Think about how it will sound over the phone when you’re calling ahead to make slip reservations with a dockmaster. If it doesn’t have a good ring to it, or can be easily misunderstood in a bad way, it might not be the best choice.

Examples:

  • Knot Guilty
  • Tip Sea
  • Ship Faced

#6 – Don’t Be A Greenhorn

Something else to consider, your boat name could be an indicator of your level of boating experience. Go too aspirational or pick the name of a yacht featured in a famous book or movie, and you might come across naive! Just sayin’…

Examples

  • Seas The Day (When your homeport is a manmade lake.)
  • Titanic (Really?!)
  • The Woodwind (Think “Wedding Crashers”…)

#7 – You Be The Judge

Just as you might walk up and down the docks of a marina to read all the boat names for inspiration, we’ve surveyed a number of boaters and compiled a list of both real and made-up boat names for you to mull over. Now it’s your turn to decide: is it a good name, better name, bad name or the worst name? And, what do you think – is the boater experienced or a novice?

Let your reactions to the following names help you decide what you want the reaction to be to your own boat’s name:

  • Gone With The Waves (marine-themed, play-on-words from a lover of cinema)
  • Gar~Sea~Ya (when your last name is “Garcia”)
  • Sea~Ya~Later
  • Susie Q (tribute)
  • Tippecanoe (when your wife’s maiden name is “Tyler”)
  • The Black Pearl (fictional ship in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series – you may have to be Johnny Depp to pull this one off)
  • Poadseidon (when your last name is “Poad”)
  • Oui Three Korines (family matriarchs)
  • Clubhouse
  • Cali (reference to homeport)
  • Winedown
  • Gipsy
  • Princess Sofia (tribute/matriarch)
  • So Far, So Good
  • Someday Came (when that dream boat is finally yours)
  • Fat Bouy (marine-themed, play-on-words)
  • Billable Hours (lawyer)
  • Something Blue (blue boat, recently married)
  • Why Knot (marine-themed, play-on-words)
  • Nickel and Dime
  • Pitch Bait
  • Grumpy Grouper
  • Acre Shaker (real estate executive)
  • Line Dance (marine-themed, play-on-words)
  • Second Wind (marine-themed, play-on-words)

Hearing the naming stories of all these boats would provide hours of entertainment. If the perfect name for your boat hasn’t surfaced yet, there are name generators out there to help. But you might end up with…MAST TRANSIT, MISS DAISY, PILE OF WOOD, BEVERLY, or some other name that you simply can’t explain!

Final Thought

A vessel name that reflects who you are and what you value is always cherished. Whatever name you choose, we hope you find good fortune with your new boat and wish you fair winds and following seas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do boats have names?

It is a long-standing tradition for boats to have names and it is considered bad luck by many boaters for a vessel to be left unnamed. The history goes back thousands of years, with many superstitions and folklore attached to the beliefs around boat naming.

How do I put my name on a boat?

There are many ways to attach and display a name on a boat, from painting it on the hull by hand to applying new vinyl boat lettering with either wet or dry methods. Some boat owners use marine-grade stickers to affix the name of their vessel prominently on the bow and transom of their vessel, while others opt for full-wraps of the entire boat.

Do Boats Need Names?

It isn’t a legal requirement that a boat has a name but it is a widely accepted tradition in boating, and is considered good luck on the water.

What are the most popular boat names?

In our experience, the vessel names we see most often are monikers with words that evoke a strong sense of adventure, alternative lifestyles, freedom and excitement in various forms, such as: Serendipity, Kismet, Carpe Diem, Serenity, Destiny, Dream Catcher, Prosperity, Mystic, Maverick, Escape and many more.

Written by: Jennifer Burkett

Jenny is an avid boater who has worked in the marine industry for years. She developed a fondness for trawlers during her tenure at Kadey-Krogen Yachts and has an affinity for life-on-the-water, contributing articles regularly to Boat Trader, YachtWorld and boats.com. Originally from Chicago, she made her way to Maryland to escape the bone-chilling winter temperatures of the Midwest and to be close to the coastline. She's made Kent Island her home—a location that makes enjoying the Chesapeake Bay a part of her daily life.

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