How To Name Your Boat: Find The PERFECT Name For Your New Boat

How To Name Your Boat: Finding The PERFECT Name For Your New Boat

Naming a new vessel is one of the most fun and exciting parts of the boating lifestyle. It's a tradition that dates back thousands of years. There's usually a good story behind every boat's name. But how do you pick out the perfect name for your boat? Keep reading for tips on how to name a boat.

Understanding the Tradition: Why Do Boats Have Names?

No one knows for certain when or how the naming of boats came about. Homer references a ship called “The Argo” in The Odyssey — so we know the practice has been around in some form for a very long time. 

In some early references to the practice, sailors would name vessels after deities, hoping they would be safely carried back to shore. Many vessels have been traditionally named after women, and a naming ceremony usually takes place before a boat's inaugural launch. Boat owners have much more leeway in naming boats these days, but some traditions remain, as we'll explain below.

Inspiration Sources

Many people name their boats based on something that's important to them, whether it's their profession, a favorite movie, or something else. Everyone appreciates wit, humor, or a good pun when they see a boat's name.

Famous boats and maritime legends can also be a source of inspiration when naming a vessel. Just remember that many sailors and boaters are a bit superstitious. Many believe it's bad luck to name your boat after a ship sank.

Nautical terms and sea-related mythology are additional places to draw inspiration. It's a bit cliché, but many medical professionals have named their boats "Knot on Call," and attorneys have called theirs "Knot Guilty." These names incorporate both a nautical term and something related to their professions.

How To Name Your Boat: Considerations in Choosing a Name

The US Coast Guard requires that boat names be no more than 33 characters in length. That leaves enough space for two or three words, so names must be short and sweet. Names should also be easy to pronounce, and there's a good reason. 

If someone else has to get on the marine radio to report that your vessel is in distress, you want them to be able to pronounce it. If you have German ancestry and want to name your boat the "Freundschaftsbeziehungen" ("relations of friendship") — you might want to reconsider!

The Coast Guard also has some legal rules regarding vessel names. For example, you can't name a boat the "Mayday" or anything else that sounds like a distress signal on the marine radio. Nothing obscene or profane is allowed, and the same goes for words or puns that phonetically sound like profanity. Racial and ethnic epithets are also forbidden.

Creative Process

If you're struggling to find the perfect name, you might want to try some brainstorming techniques. There are several free mind-mapping software options online that can help you brainstorm. Word association might be another way to come up with a name. 

Think of synonyms or terms related to your profession, a favorite hobby, or something else. There's also nothing wrong with asking friends or family to help you create a name. They might instantly think of a great name that never occurred to you.

Testing the Name

Once you think you've found the perfect name, try it out! Is it easy for other people to understand and pronounce? 

At this point, you can also have the name painted on the boat to see how it looks. If it doesn't work or looks bad, you can always paint over it and try again. Ask for feedback from other boaters or maritime enthusiasts to see what they think of the name. If the name is perfect, it's time to make it official!

Making it Official

Every state has different requirements for boat registration. Your state may or may not require the vessel's name on the paperwork. The state registration numbers are the letters and numbers on both sides of the bow. Federal registration is done through the US Coast Guard. This requires the name and home port of the boat to be displayed on the stern. The wheelhouse must also display a plaque with your boat's federal registration number.

Once your boat is officially registered, it's time for the celebratory christening! For a traditional boat naming ceremony, gather with some friends and family at the dock with the boat. Any green, leafy branch can be placed inside the boat to signify a safe return to land. The captain generally reads a short poem or says a few words about the new boat. A toast is usually made with something bubbly (usually champagne) for safe voyages and returns. Then, a designated person breaks a bottle of champagne against the bow of the boat. (Keep the bottle in a bag so broken glass doesn't go flying.)

Finally, take your friends and family on a short inaugural cruise in the newly christened boat!

Have Fun Naming Your New Boat

Giving a boat a name and christening is always a happy experience. Just remember to approach the process with creativity and thoughtfulness, and you're sure to come up with the perfect name.

At Gemlux, we understand the demands and needs of the boating industry because we are boaters. Check out our website for more boating tips and guides!