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Thread: How to name a boat?

  1. #1
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    Default How to name a boat?

    Seems like all of the good names are taken. I always like 'Eos'. Easy to spell, easy to pronounce, nice short name for lettering purposes. Then, they named a camera after her. And a car, and a few other consumer products. I also liked 'Selkie', until I found out that there's a fancy clothing brand named that. I'd sort of like a female mythological creature or goddess. 'Freya' is OK, I guess. Then, there's the corny stuff like 'Sea Jay', a play on me and my wife's initials C and J. I tried looking up cool things like 'dragonfly' or 'peregrine' in other languages, but they're all 27 letters long, and unpronounceable by 'Muricans. Plus, you have to explain the name to everyone you meet. How did you name your boat?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I was going to name the LFH Marco Polo schooner "Grace O'Malley", the more pronounceable anglicized way. But my lover measured wrong and the expensive mahogoney for the trailboards were too short. So we went with one of the many Irish spellings: "Granuaile".

    So, a wonderful name that was hard, no matter how perfectly spoken, is hard to hear on the radio. We settled for "Granna". Which was fine till we happened to be the first responder to a boat on fire.

    We'd recovered the two crew and had snagged the stern with a grapple so we could prevent the boat from drifting into a crowded mooring field. My crew was filling in the Coast Guard - casualty names, our names, all that. He got to our vessel name and said "Granna". Spelled it out "G R A N U A I L E". I heard him explain: "Yeah, the 'uaile' is silent." ) a

    And then the meaning. One time I did not need to explain: We were moored last boat out in the Hyannis Harbor (Hyannis Port) gave their rap. Like, "The boat with three masts is not a Kennedy boat . . . " One early fall day the boat was loaded with young Irish men and women who'd worked the summer at someplace and were getting a party treat from the boss. Beer and Irish twenty-somethings. A party.

    Anyway, they all knew the stories of Ireland's last independent king. A woman king is only possible in Ireland. Anyway, they had a real row going on about how to spell 'Granuaile'. The captain, a friend, was happy to raft up while his guests and we discussed the matter over a few bottles of something more ardent. There were even some artists who liked my partner's invention of a sort of Irish-uncial for the trailboards.

    My Last Boat is 'Meg Merrilies". Take that you literati.

    Fun with obscure names.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I should add: Meditate with the boat till she tells you her name.

    Grannuaile is the name of the great Elizabethan era sea queen.

    Meg Merriles was the name of the gypsy in the Keats poem and Mother's favorite hunter.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    One sound piece of advice I saw was to pick a name that can easily be understood over a weak radio connection.Names that hint at family jokes or those of excessive length may not be easily understood.A short name is a real bonus when it comes to form filling too.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    As young school teachers in a Yupik Eskimo village in Alaska, saving for our lst boat (home), we chose "Sarana", a Lilly that grows in the Aleutian & Shumigin Islands. We wanted something to remind us of our 2nd great adventure together (the lst was a motorcycle tour as our (pre)honeymoon). And homage to my wife's Great Grandfather who built and managed the
    Apollo mine on Unga Island in the Shumigan Islands.

    It was also short, easy to understand on the vhf and we were sure to use block lettering which is supposedly required by the U.S. Coast Guard... none of that indecipherable script lettering seen so often these days.

    Our "Sarana" (a Pacific Seacraft Mariah 31) was sold to a young Seattle couple who later cruised Central America and elsewhere and had an online site for a few years. I last saw the boat listed for sale prior to the pandemic. I was SO jealous that they did the trip on her that I always wanted to. I'd love to hear where/what they're up to now.

    "We once heard the Coast Guard in Canada chiding someone for having the name "Fan Tan" because they thought they kept hearing "Pan Pan"....so there's that....!
    DP

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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Bird names are always good, though popular, How about a French name, they are often quite lyrical. I'm not keen on joke names myself. Though my choice of names always ends up seeming that way. I always want boats to have beautiful names.
    My Shellback dingy is named 'Coquille' which is pronounced Cock-key. My Gartside 130 is (so far)named 'Lyre' pronounced liar

    Also just because some company named a product with the name it doesn't mean it still can't be a fine name for your boat. It's like band names. They can be anything and if the band is good the name ends up meaning the band rather than visa versa.

    'Persephone' is a beautiful name but the Beachcombers grabbed it. The Roman version of the Greek goddess Demeter is nice 'Ceres'

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Oh...! Just realized that we're guilty of a "joke"/punnish, Aussie name for our sailing dinghy/tender... "Fair Dinkum". We have relatives in Brisbane so it's met with some approval, at least down under ;-)

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    My wife is Egyptian so I thought it’d be nice to name it after a well known ship in Arabic. Definitely nothing punny, I can’t stand the endless Reel Times or Frayed Knots. I went through lots of names: Bounty, Beagle, Dove, Endeavor, Endurance, Fram, Ranger, Spray, Victory but they were all long or really hard to pronounce. Arabic has some sounds that just aren’t in English. Joshua Slocum’s circumnavigation in Spray is a favorite read so I started asking her to translate similar words. “Wave” translates to “moga” which is nice and easy and has a hint of some far flung Pacific island in it. So Moga it is!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Heck I was going to suggest 'Yalla', something I heard a lot in Morocco. (oops mistook the previous post for the OP's)
    Last edited by Toxophilite; 10-02-2022 at 01:10 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I had originally planned to name my dinghy "Deilf" which is Gaelic for dolphin. I thought it would be nice, having the Irish heritage and all.
    This word is pronounced pretty much as spelt.
    It was then pointed out to me that Deilf sounded a lot like Dilf, which is the male version of Milf, the more common acronym of which does not stand for "Man I like fishing".
    It being a good idea to change the name was reinforced when visited in the workshop by a class of teenage school kids and their teacher, who asked "Does the dinghy have a name"...well, the tittering and sniggering was clearly audible.

    Then came the Eureka moment, for some reason I was looking up endangered NZ native species, an image of the Hectors Dolphin came up, small, a little wide for it's length, a perfect description of the dinghy and both are rare.
    "Hector", definitely suits the boat.
    Focus on the effort not the outcome.

    "Don't take life seriously. Either way, you won't make it out alive."

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Try owning a boat named Skookum Maru! Some people get it, mostly those who grew up in B.C. or Alaska. But I get a lot of strange looks and requests to repeat or spell the name over the VHF. My two cents, make your boat what you like and don't worry about prior use. There are a lot of boats named "Sea Witch" and likely even more named "Freya". Wouldn't stop me from choosing either name.

    I've named two boats. One was a 48' Huckins Offshore. She was launched as Nirvana, which I didn't care for. I also thought it was likely to be confused with the band of that name. When I bought the boat she was named "Wings of Night" and really the melodrama was just a bit much. So I renamed her "Perihelion" - the point in the orbit of a planet when it is closest to the sun. Which no one understood, was difficult to pronounce, and even harder to spell. But I liked it then and I still do, even though the boat itself is sadly long gone.

    There are so many good ways to name a boat...

    - Literary names. Tolkien is always popular but there is the entire range of literature from every culture. I like the name Dulcibella (Riddle of the Sands) and there is a cutter named Nancy Blackett (Swallows and Amazons) that I love. Peter Duck from the same series would be a great boat name. Also Captain Flint.

    - Family members. In my romantic youth I renamed a boat "Alice Rose" after the mother of my then-current girlfriend. Plus I really liked the name. Of course the relationship did not last so I was stuck with that embarrassing reminder for a few years afterward. Thankfully the next owner restored her previous name and saved me from my mistakes.

    - Also mythology (there is a lovely Ben Seaborn-designed sloop named Circe in Seattle), nature, fish, birds, etc. (My dad had a little cutter named Coot), regional indigenous terms (Skookum is one such in the Salish region, also Hyak and Chinook). Another boat my dad owned was named Ninigret, who was a Sachem (chief) of the Niantic tribe.

    But my favorite name of all time comes from a boat that I encountered in the Ballard Locks out here many years ago (this is a story I have told here before but I'll repeat it since it's topical). The boat itself was a nondescript little fiberglass cruiser with a couple aboard standing on the flying bridge. The woman had a great mass of wild, flaming red hair. And the name of the boat, in huge letters on the forward face of the flying bridge, was "Red Witch".
    - Chris

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Jeff View Post
    My wife is Egyptian so I thought it’d be nice to name it after a well known ship in Arabic. Definitely nothing punny, I can’t stand the endless Reel Times or Frayed Knots. I went through lots of names: Bounty, Beagle, Dove, Endeavor, Endurance, Fram, Ranger, Spray, Victory but they were all long or really hard to pronounce. Arabic has some sounds that just aren’t in English. Joshua Slocum’s circumnavigation in Spray is a favorite read so I started asking her to translate similar words. “Wave” translates to “moga” which is nice and easy and has a hint of some far flung Pacific island in it. So Moga it is!
    Ah! I have been curious about your choice of names for a while. I like it even more now.

    Tom
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I made the mistake of using what might be my best idea for a name (Jagular) on what I hope will be my worst boat, a little crudely built Bolger skiff with a flat bottom, flat leeboards and rudder (no foil shapes), a closet rod for a boom, and a cheap polytarp sail.

    The name comes from The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne's sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh. Tigger has gotten himself (and Roo) stuck in a tree when Pooh and Piglet come walking by. They see something in the tree, but don't know what it is:

    "Look, Pooh!" said Piglet suddenly. "There's something in one of the Pine Trees."
    "It's a Jagular," said Pooh.
    "What do Jaguars do?" asked Piglet, hoping that they wouldn't.
    Seemed like a perfect name for a badly built boat intended for an almost-novice sailor unsure what the results might turn out to be.

    In general, I like mystical beasts and literary allusions. My current boat is named Fogg (after a couple of nameless years), after Phileas Fogg, the main character in Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days (the book, not the films). As a school teacher, I always figured I ought to be able to spend 80 days of each summer living aboard my boat. Hasn't happened that way yet, but I keep hoping.

    I also liked the idea of writing a series of stories similar to H.W. Tilman's "Mischief" books (his boat is always named "Mischief"): Mischief in Patagonia, Mischief in Greenland, Mischief Goes South, Mostly Mischief, Mischief Among the Penguins, etc. I think that would work OK with Fogg as well. In fact, I'm working on my first "Fogg in ___________" story right now. Sadly enough, there will be no penguins involved.

    Tom
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    The boat in question is a rowboat, so I don't have to worry about what it sounds like over VHF, unless it's someone in a larger vessel saying, "Some idiot in a rowboat just...."

    Both my wife and I are of Swedish heritage, so I lean towards those names, although a lot of them aren't very 'pretty'. Plans are to try to cast my own small nameplate in bronze, so I'm trying to avoid long names. That, and the transom isn't very wide!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Meachen View Post
    One sound piece of advice I saw was to pick a name that can easily be understood over a weak radio connection.Names that hint at family jokes or those of excessive length may not be easily understood.A short name is a real bonus when it comes to form filling too.
    ayup and keep the fancy graphics off as well. Bouncing around with a pair of binocs trying to read some vynal stick on computer graphic from hundreds of feet away can stop the pronounciation from being even attempted.Some names cannot be deciphered from ten feet away

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    There have been many threads on the forum on boat names. Use the search thingy.

    If this boat is your first rough effort, maybe something like Mock-up, prototype, or proof of concept appeals to you.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    My Folkboat was named Puff by the previous owner in the 60s because he really like the song “puff the magic dragon”. I suspect that the recreational puffing a more likely source. We kept it because the grandkids really wanted a dragon on the spinnaker. Which hasn’t happened yet. So we’ll keep it. 7FC1A42D-DCE2-4F51-80AD-E92376B2BE30.jpg

  18. #18
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Actually, this boat is the opposite of a 'first rough effort'. I've built about 50 boats over 50+ years. This boat is a Peregrine 18, an elegant glued lapstrake hull. In all likelihood, it will be the last boat I build. Perhaps that should play into the name?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I built a similar boat and thought it deserved a sexy name.
    EF7FD575-17B2-42EB-AF37-DE61AC00299A.jpg

  20. #20
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I started my CLC Skerry in August 2019 and finished in August 2021, I named her Dandelion, because at the height of the pandemic we had a baby and our daycare shut down forever so we had a 3 year old at home with a newborn and life was really damn hard, but every day during the summer the 3 year old wanted to go pick dandelions and it was my favorite part of the day.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Oddly enough it turned out to be a common military symbol so people ask me if I'm military sometimes lol.

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    Default Re: How to name a boat?


  23. #23
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Here is an excerpt from an article in Small Craft Advisor, about the build of my latest boat, on how I came up with the name:

    "Boat naming has always seemed to me to be something that shouldn’t be done lightly. I’m not particularly superstitious, but, when it comes to the sea, as Hamlet put it, “There are more things in heaven and earth . . .”, and it doesn’t do to offend Poseidon. Besides that, there are practical considerations. There is nothing more annoying than hearing cumbersome, goofy or cutesy boat names repeated three times on VHF, day after day, when you are on a cruise. In addition, as a sailor, you are synonymous with your boat to much of rest of the sailing community, not to mention when you sail in to a foreign port, as I hope to do (even if it is only Port Townsend).
    I’m also not a fan of serial boat naming, e.g. “Last Boat III”. I pondered names that were aspirational, meteorological, navigational, naval, avian, animal and botanical. I considered adjectives, nouns and verbs. I wanted the name to be unique. As a primarily visual thinker, I was also trying to envision what kind of image would represent the new boat.
    Eventually I settled on the name “Camas Moon”, for the beautiful blue/purple flower that blooms here in late spring, and whose starchy bulbs were a food source highly prized by the local First Nations peoples. They harvested the bulbs at the full moon in May, which was known as the Camas Moon. May is also roughly the start of the summer sailing season here."

    DSCF6866.jpg
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    All the good names are not taken.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Pulling into the slip yesterday, my daughter and I counted 6 punny boat names involving "Reel"

    I am superstitious about changing a boat name, but I would make an exception if I bought a boat with a pun for the name

    Most unusual name on my dock is Jeremiah 29.11, which I still can't figure out:

    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
    What's not on a boat costs nothing, weighs nothing, and can't break

  26. #26
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    My boat is called Terrapin. It was designed and is used to sail the shoal marshy waters where the terrapins live. Also, it looks a bit like a turtle to my eye.
    -Dave

  27. #27
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I'm building a boat for adventures with my two young sons. Early this summer we agreed to name her Emmylou in honor of the matchless singer Emmylou Harris, beloved of us all. The first letter my son ever wrote asked her blessing for the use of her name. He illuminated the text with a drawing of us sailing over the moon jellyfish of Tomales Bay:



    We put the letter in the mail to Emmylou c/o her New York publicist and I felt great about it.
    Then he said the boat looked like Totoro, the enormous protective eponymous forest creature in Hido Miyazaki's 1988 masterpiece My Neighbor Totoro. Specifically the big Totoro and not the medium or small Totoros.






    I think I just gave a paternal grunt. It was too late to do anything about it, with the letter in the mail, and Emmylou is such a great name.
    But more I thought about it the more it got under my skin. The kid was right. Emmylou is poised, graceful, aquiline, and elegant. Her voice sounds like a laser hitting a diamond; aesthetically perfect, in and of itself. Our boat is quite not these things. It looks like... Totoro.







    And if the protective gentle embrace of Totoro does not encapsulate the way I'd like my boys to feel about the boat, I don't know what does.



    I went on a week-long backpacking trip in the high Sierra. These inevitably occasion profound reflection and meditation. I was in the mountains when I decided to change careers; when I set on asking my girlfriend to marry me; when we decided to have a second kid. This time all I could think about was the name of the boat. It should be Totoro!

    I got home to find the letter to Emmyou returned unopened - some issue with address, and clearly a sign from the gods of the forest. We'll save the letter to Emmylou for the next boat, which we'll dream up swaddled safe in the hull of Totoro.
    Last edited by pez_leon; 10-03-2022 at 02:45 PM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I'm planning on naming my dinghy TeFiti which is the name of a sea goddess in the film Moana and apparently means a distant place...I believe its a version of Tahiti but I dont really know. The boat willl only go up the river and back...but I figure so what! Lol

  29. #29
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I stick to the local tradition that a boat too small to be in the commercial ship registry and too small to carry a VHF radio is also too small to have a name.
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

  30. #30
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    In the punny name department, I remember a huge sportfisherman in West Palm Beach named Joint Venture, and it featured a giant marijuana leaf artfully rendered in gold leaf across the massive varnished transom.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    I don't have much desire to name inanimate objects, heretical as this may be. My boats either keep the name they came with or go unnamed. I had a 33 ft sloop that came with the name 'Dovetail' which I liked well enough and didn't change. My current 16 ft trailer sailer has 'Sparrow' across its transom in vinyl letters, along with a couple of swallows flitting along (guess there were no vinyl sparrows). Not very imaginative as the boat is in fact a Sparrow 16.

    I had a 31 ft power boat* for 14 years that I never did name; just called it out as 'White Bayliner' when necessary. I actually think this was helpful to harbormasters and the like, as they had a clue as to which boat to look for.

    *Yes I owned a Bayliner, and yes it was ugly, and I would avoid the dismissive stares from owners of worthy boats. But my ex saw it at a boat show and had to have it.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    When I was a kid, we had the yellow boat, the blue boat, the tin boat and the dinghy. Everyone in the family knew which boat was which
    What's not on a boat costs nothing, weighs nothing, and can't break

  33. #33
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Interesting question on when to name. I have a bunch of kayaks, none of them named. So they get identified by their color. But I do have a compulsion to name sailboats - even the little daysailers. They just don't come across as inanimate to me.
    -Dave

  34. #34
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    My last boat was QUESTER . like wanderer or explorer. you can use it I sold the boat. My new boat , 1966 Mariner is WILDFLOWER. The boats done but the names not on it yet. My wife likes it, a big plus. We have lots of wildflowers around the house and I love this song. Tom Petty - Wildflowers (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
    David Satter www.sattersrestoration.com
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  35. #35
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    Default Re: How to name a boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Satter View Post
    My last boat was QUESTER . like wanderer or explorer. you can use it I sold the boat. My new boat , 1966 Mariner is WILDFLOWER. The boats done but the names not on it yet. My wife likes it, a big plus. We have lots of wildflowers around the house and I love this song. Tom Petty - Wildflowers (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
    Great song! (and boat name) It's part of the soundtrack (the very beginning) of one of my favorite boat trips to Georgian Bay:

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