Naming a Boat

Suggestions From an Expert

Boat names are inspired in many different ways.  I interviewed Andrew Canepari of CustomBoatNames.com, a division of Nautical Sites Media, asking him what makes a boat name unique.  If you are looking for ideas to help you name your boat, Andrew’s answers are enlightening and inspiring.


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What makes a boat name truly unique?

bert knottenbeld/Flickr

I think a boat name is unique even if it’s a name you’ve seen a hundred times on other boats, as long as it has special meaning to the boat owner. I hate to see someone quickly dismiss a boat name that they like just because they’ve seen it on another boat somewhere. For example, although “Carpe Diem” is already written on the back of many other boats, it still may be the best boat name for you if you like to fish for carp, or if your name is “Horace” (i.e., the poet who coined the phrase 2,000 years ago).

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What are the most important elements of choosing a boat name?

There are three very important factors in choosing a boat name. First, it must have special meaning to the boat’s owner(s).  Second, a boat name shouldn’t be so long or obscure that it is not memorable.  Third, for the sake of both safety and in consideration of families with children that might be listening to the same frequency you are on, think about what your boat name will sound like over the VHF radio. 

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How do you find inspiration to suggest unique boat names for them?

Many people write the Boat Name Blog looking for boat name suggestions, and I usually try to read between the lines to come up with boat names for them.  Sometimes the best boat name is in the actual text of their own email. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve written back to people with a two-word phrase from their original email and they end up choosing that as a boat name. I’m also a big fan of incorporating your business name into your boat name if you own your own business, whether it is a Fortune 500 or a mom and pop operation. When I can’t think of a boat name myself, I’ve created my own little crowdsourcing experiment at BoatNameBlog.com where anyone can read a boat-owner’s story and make boat name suggestions.

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What are some suggestions to help a boat name truly stand out?

To help a boat name stand out, keep it short and simple when thinking of the name. You also have a lot of options when designing your boat name – choose colors and a font style that really pop.  If you really want it to stand out, you should consider putting your boat name somewhere in addition to just on the transom of your boat. Add it to a life ring or welcome mat, or get matching vinyl lettering for your dock box or trailer, or have your boat name embroidered on shirts or hats so that it can be a conversation starter even when you’re not on the boat. (We can help with stuff like that at our other store, BoatNameGear.com).

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What suggestions do you have for putting the name on the boat?

When I first considered getting into the vinyl lettering business several years ago, I was surprised how easy it was to install. We now ship hundreds of boat names all over the country every month, and boat owners of all experience levels have no issues applying their new boat names. Some of the things to be careful of include:

  1. Choose a big open area on the transom, and don’t fill the space completely – leave a couple of inches around the outside of your name to make the name stand out more and make it easier to apply.
  2. Make sure you don’t wax the boat prior to putting on your new lettering, as the adhesive won’t stick to the wax.
  3. This one may be obvious, but it’s easier to put the name on while the boat is out of the water.