For anyone who is thinking of, or is in the process of, purchasing their own boat, choosing a name is really important. It’s not as complex as selecting boat seat fabrics and colours, or paint finishes. After all, your boat name is unlikely to clash with anything or risk falling apart at the seams. However, that’s not to say that it’s not as creative a process as the other aesthetics of your new boat. The name of your boat is a way of conveying your whole attitude to sailing, as well as forging a connection between you and the vessel.
Boat naming is steeped in history. Practically speaking, to name a boat ensures that anyone working or travelling on that boat knows they are talking about the same thing. It’s an identifier. The creative direction of boat names then takes over history here. Sailors in the ancient world began to name their vessels after saints and deities, or in honour of a God. By doing this, they hoped that they would be offered protection while at sea. This sense of personality then developed into the tradition of giving a boat a female name. So what were more often than not all-male crews felt an ownership or admiration of their vessel. This is great for camaraderie on what were often lengthy voyages.
Nowadays, boat naming is as prevalent as ever. And it’s still just as important to be able to identify a vessel while out at sea or in a marina. However, the frame of reference has simply ballooned. A boat name is now a chance to have a bit of fun, to honour someone, or to say something about yourself. While, yes boats could simply be identified by their registration number, sailors have kept up this ancient tradition to add a bit of sparkle to life at sea. And thank goodness they have!
Choosing a name
When anything goes, though, how on earth do you narrow down what name might work for you and your new boat? While you might have been a visitor on a friend’s boat and thought “I like those boat cushions” and got some the same, you can’t do that with a name. So you need to take inspiration from elsewhere in your life.
This is a highly traditional route to go down. You may want to choose a mythological or historical woman, a partner or a member of your family. You can combine female based names with other themes, both funny and descriptive. Things like ‘Cleopatra’s Pearl’, ‘The Lady Laura’, or ‘Natalie’s Favourite’
If you have a loved one who you want to dedicate your boat to, you may choose to direct your name in a more sentimental way. This means more than your loved one’s name, it should convey what they meant to you. For example ‘Fond Memories’, or ‘Timeless Love’.
Sticking to the sea is a great way to narrow down ideas as these names will always be appropriate! ‘Salty Spirit’ or ‘Horizon Haze’ give a hint of the sea. Just beware, if you’re a superstitious sort, of names that could be seen as unlucky by suggesting tragedy with references to wrecks, sirens or storms.
Whether you’re partial to a pun or a bit of observational humour, a funny name is ideal. It’ll bring a smile to anyone who catches sight of your boat. Indulge in some word play such as ‘Knot Working’ or make a proverbial wink with ‘Kids’ Inheritance’!
Your boat name could tie in any other interests that you, your partner, or family share. A reference to a football team like ‘The Mersey Mariner’ or a love of dogs with ‘Canine Cruiser’.
If you’d rather not wear your heart on your sleeve, why not focus your boat name around the boat itself? This type of descriptive name forges a connection between you and the boat. For example ‘Laid-Back Liner’ if you and the boat prefer a more relaxed speed!
The legal stuff
As we’ve established, boat names are there for more than fun. They need to be a clear identifier, and as such there are legal guidelines about the registration and display of your boat name.
You will need to check that your chosen name is available before officially applying to register your boat. This is done through the UK Ship Register. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a couple of potential names in the mix in case one of them is already in use.
There are specific requirements to ensure that your boat name is sufficiently visible on your boat. This is important for identification purposes in an emergency situation. In the UK, boat names must be at least three inches high, and they must be displayed on the boat’s bow (front) or stern (back). The name must be in letters that are easy to read and in a colour that contrasts with the colour of the boat.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect name for your boat, it’s time to celebrate the fact! A boat christening is another part of sailing that’s passed down through generations of seafarers. You can go as big or as small as you like with a boat christening ceremony, but it’s a great excuse to get friends together. It’s generally accepted to say a brief blessing or toast, and to break a bottle of something sparkling over the bow of the boat. Nowadays it’s advised to pre-score the bottle and to keep it in a bag to prevent broken glass from causing a hazard. Then off you go on your maiden voyage!
What about when your boat has not been purchased new? When you refurbish a previously owned boat, you may want to look at replacing more than just the upholstery and choose a new name. Superstitious sailors will tell you that it is bad luck to rename a boat, but whether you believe this is down to personal preference. If you do re-name a boat, remove traces of the previous name and ensure that the new name is correctly displayed and registered.
Buying a boat can require a lot of creativity. Be that in the design of the boat or the name you choose. Contact us to find out more about how your boat decor can be as quality as the name that you choose.