WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN NAMING YOUR BOAT
The naming of a boat is no joke – indeed, it’s a tradition still taken very seriously by sailors.
Walk around Sutton Harbour Marina and you’ll see a huge variety of boat names, from the funny and touching to the more prosaic, as well as some that might seem to be tempting fate.
In the UK there are no laws restricting the naming of a boat; it can be long, short, unique or completely duplicated, but many people still take a lot of time to consider what they should name their vessel.
Some of the most famous vessel names in history were given to tall ships, and remain popular today. Although The Black Pearl is a favourite, fictional vessels don’t really apply here. One which was very much real was The Mayflower, which set sail in 1620 from Plymouth, travelling to the New World. Another well-known ship was the HMS Victory, which is the world’s oldest commissioned war ship. And we surely can’t forget the legend that is the Titanic; although few would seek to copy her name for their boat of course.
THE NAMING CEREMONY
Once a name is decided it’s time for the naming ceremony, which dates back thousands of years and always used to involve wine, so it was guaranteed to be an enjoyable occasion. It was essential to name a boat or ship as it was considered lucky and protected by God once she had a name.
Historically, boats and ships are given feminine names and referred to as ‘she’ or ‘her’; some people believe they were named after Goddesses for protection, while others argue it’s because boats and ships are considered feminine in some foreign languages.
People often name boats after real people they know and love, whilst others take inspiration from books, poems and foreign translations. You might see Jenny floating around or a Jane tied up on the harbour but some like to get a little more creative with their vessel name. A play on words is a popular technique such as Knot Shore, Fish and Chicks and What’s Up Dock? Others like to joke about their financial situation with names such as Future Poor Person and She Got The House.
A WORD TO THE WISE
Whatever you decide to name your boat, remember that it’s wise to have a name which is easy to recall; the last thing you want is to be unable to remember the name of your boat, or to pronounce it easily, if you find yourself out at sea and in a dangerous or life threatening situation requiring help from the coastguard.
It can also be beneficial to avoid complicated spelling or easily mistakable words which could confuse people coming to your rescue. Some examples include Usain Boat – clever but a weak radio signal might cause some misunderstanding, while Seas The Day is a very popular name but you might have to clarify the spelling. And telling the coast guard I Like Big Boats And I Can Not Lie might be slightly embarrassing when they’re coming to your rescue.
THE SINKING FEELING OF SUPERSTITION
Traditions arise from superstition but there are some boat names that everyone should stay away from, such as Unsinkable – never a good idea to chance fate.
One superstition states that the best time to name a boat is at high tide, when the sun is out or on a full moon. Another says that re-naming a boat is bad luck, so you might want to bear that in mind if you’re buying a used vessel.
But if you do decide to change the name of your boat then there is a proper procedure to follow. First, you must remove any trace of the original name, then you must wait a day before re-naming the boat and bringing new equipment with the name on board.