Naming a Boat

Check out these tips for inspiration

Couple sailing on sailboat on ocean
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You've finally realized a longtime dream and purchased your first boat. Now you need to decide what to name it. Inspiration can take many forms, so check out these tips.


Think Unique

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But don't automatically dismiss something you've heard before. A boat's name will always be unique as long as it has special meaning to you. For example, it's a good bet that “Carpe Diem” is already scrawled along the sides of thousands of boats—but it still may be a great name for your boat if, say, you like to fish for carp or if your name is Horace, the poet who coined the phrase 2,000 years ago.

Keep It Simple

Your name shouldn’t be so long that you have to use small lettering to make it fit on the boat, or so obscure that it's not memorable or understandable. Sure, it can be personal, referencing a child, spouse, or other loved one's name, but it shouldn't be puzzling. And you want people, including the Coast Guard and other boaters, to easily be able to read the name of your boat in case of an emergency.

Keep It Clean

If you're tempted to choose something profane ("Master Baiter," "Morning Wood"), remember: For the sake of 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

Fun With Puns

Short puns or other plays on words—"The Codfather," "Aquaholic," and "Fishizzle," to name a few—always make for great boat names. Even cliches can be clever, depending on the circumstances. "Love of My Life" takes on a whole new meaning when a newly divorced owner cashes in his or her alimony check to buy a boat and sail their cares away. 

Where to Find Inspiration

Family, friends, hobbies, a favorite song or movie, or your vocation can all serve as sources of inspiration. Even a personal catchphrase can be turned into a name. For instance, do you preface every response to a question with, "Let me see now . . ."? That would be clever if written, "Let Me Sea Now." 

Location, Location, Location

In addition to thinking up a name, you'll also need to choose the best place to put it. The transom and/or sides are a given, but you can also add it to life rings, welcome mats, and even your trailer. You also have a lot of options when designing your boat name—choose colors and a font style that really pop. 

You can either have the lettering done by a professional company or order the vinyl letters and apply them yourself. If you go the DIY route, keep these things in mind:

  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 it 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. 

When You're Really Stumped

Andrew Canepari, publisher of the Daily Boater, started a blog to help people name their boats. It's a fun spot to hang out, get inspiration, and share ideas. You can even submit your name into one of their boat naming contests.