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Name Your Boat

Name Your Boat

For many, owning a boat means fun-filled weekends of watersports, fishing trips with the boys, or hanging out with the family. For others, it means lavish parties for the VIPs, popping bottles on the top deck, and rarely moving from the exclusive harbour berth. And then, for a select few, it is home – a floating abode that allows them the freedom to be wherever they want to be, with whomever they want to share it with. A boat means love-filled sunset picnics, a space to read and reread your favourite book, a space to write your own book, a place of reflection and hauntingly beautiful memories, and all the romantic notions you can imagine. So how then do we name this sacred vessel of joy and happiness? How do we choose what is worthy?

Boat naming has proven to be one of the hardest decisions you will make throughout the process of buying a boat. Popular choices include the name of a loved one, the one that got away, a spin on one’s favourite boating destinations, or a creative play on words representing a life philosophy. There are, however, a few written and some unwritten laws, safety regulations, and heavy-weighted superstitions to bypass before you can scream your boat’s name while sailing, arms spread wide on the starboard bow.


It is a well known fact that boats are traditionally regarded as female objects; hence the custom that boats be named after lovers, mothers, sisters and that fiery waitress that always gave you a double shot and cheeky smile, but never her phone number. Some say this is due to the fact that in Latin-based languages, ‘boat’ is considered a female object. But in sailing folklore, boats full of only men often went away for weeks, months and years at a time; the only lady in their lives being the one that gave them safe passage through the open water. This emotional connection to the vessel’s physical structure has created a strong stereotype for boats and their feminine names. But don’t be deterred; if you really want to call your boat Trevor the Great, then by all means, go ahead.


One of the most important things to take into consideration is how easy to understand and pronounce your boat’s name is, in case of an emergency. Furthermore, it needs to be a name that you will happily announce at a regatta or boat show without hesitation. Being creative is one thing, but deriving your boat’s name from an acronym or inside joke may leave you high and dry (or low and sunken) if rescue services cannot understand your panicked rambles over the radio. Be witty yet precise, and be creative yet completely clear, to avoid any misunderstandings during an emergency situation.


A page from the marine folklore handbook indicates that once a boat has been named,
it enters into The Ledger of the Deep and is watched over by the mighty King Neptune (or Poseidon), god of the sea. Once there, it is considered deeply disrespectful to Neptune to simply change the name; otherwise, he will cast you inevitable misfortune while at sea. However, by performing a renaming ceremony where you must remove all traces of the old name, and pay your respects to Neptune with a witnessed celebration and toast of champagne, you can hit the open seas with the knowledge that you will remain under his protective eye at all times.

Another superstition relates to names that imply disaster in jest. Most believe that naming your boat On the Rocks or Tide-tanic, for example, simply sets you up for failure, so you should stick to names that promote wellbeing and safety at sea.


It is always a good idea to check with your local registry to see if your chosen name has already been taken. While there is no law against having the same name as another boat, you do not necessarily want four Rhonda’s crossing the Tasman together or lined up next to one another at the marina.

So have fun with your naming journey, but also be concise and respectful – respectful to yourself, to other boaties, and of course, to King Neptune himself. Enjoy your water time knowing you are safe in every aspect.

Keen to find out how to register your boat’s current name or a new one? For details visit:

By Lowen Taylor

Published in the August – November 2020 print edition.