Boat Naming Etiquette: What You Need to Know

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There’s something special about naming a boat. It’s not just a tradition. It is actually required by the U.S. Coast Guard to identify your boat’s name and hailing port both on documents and physically on the boat. While the rules aren’t as stringent for recreational boats, it’s still a fun idea. Giving your boat its unique moniker is important, but you’ll need to follow a few rules of boat naming etiquette to ensure a fitting name and good luck on the water.

Boat naming etiquette is essential. There are words you’ll need to avoid when naming your boat and a few best practices to follow. You’ll want your boat name to be short and sweet, with 33 characters maximum. You’ll also likely want a memorable name that reflects your interests or hobbies. The name should suit the vessel and roll off the tongue.

Do you have a new boat to name? Here’s some need-to-know information about boat naming etiquette to make sure your vessel has the perfect handle you’ll enjoy for years to come.

How Do You Name a Boat?

Naming your boat isn’t just a fun way to customize your vessel and make it your own. In fact, all commercial boats are required to have a name according to rules from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Recreational boats don’t fall under the same guidelines, but naming your boat is a fun way to make the vessel uniquely yours. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when considering how you name a boat. Some things to think about include:

  • The length of the boat name. It should be short and sweet, less than 33 characters.
  • Traditionally boats have female names. Consider naming your boat after a special woman.
  • Your boat name might reflect your career or a favorite hobby. We’ve suggested some boat names based on careers below.

It’s considered good luck and good boat naming etiquette to name your boat before its first launch. You’ll want to display your boat’s name on the hull in clear letters and numbers to make sure it’s visible to everyone. Bold lettering will ensure the name is visible even in rain or fog.

After you’ve settled on a name for your boat, you’ll want to make sure the new moniker is included on all documents related to your boat. This makes things official.

How Do You Christen a Boat?

How Do You Christen a Boat?

In addition to naming your boat on all official documents, you’ll want to christen your boat with its new name. A christening ceremony is a fun way to welcome your new boat, with its new name, into your family.

You can christen your boat with a small ceremony for friends and family. But first, champagne.

How to Hold a Boat Christening

There are 5 easy steps to holding a boat christening ceremony:

  1. Gather friends and family around your new boat. Pour everyone (of age, of course) a glass of champagne or your favorite sparkling beverage. You’ll want to save the bottle for step 5.
  2. Give a small speech about your boat.
  3. Toast the boat! There are a few traditional poems to read to toast the boat or you can write your own toast to the boat and the seas.
  4. Lay a branch of green leaves on the deck of the boat for good luck.
  5. Break the champagne bottle, traditionally against the boat’s hull.

Christening a boat is an important celebration and essential to boat naming etiquette. But before you can hold a boat christening, you need to come up with the perfect name for your boat.

What Are Some Popular Boat Names?

Boat names can be as unique as the people who name them. A good boat name might reflect the owner’s interests or hobbies, or might be a classic name that just resonates. We’ve come up with a few suggested boat names you can use to get the creative juices flowing. These are some of the best boat names we could come up with — some of which we’ve seen on boats in the wet slips here at Port Sanibel Marina!

Classic Boat Names

  • Fantasea
  • Poseidon
  • Expedition
  • The Skipper
  • Castaway
  • Carpe Diem
  • Seas the Day
  • The Mayflower
  • Prosperity
  • Salty Dog

Boat Names for TV and Movie Buffs

  • The Black Pearl
  • The African Queen
  • The Orca
  • Jenny
  • SS Minnow
  • Ariel
  • The Inferno
  • Charlie’s Angel
  • The Flying Wasp
  • Victorious

Boat Names for Music Lovers

  • Frank Ocean
  • Sweet Caroline
  • Margaritaville
  • Key of C
  • Smoke on the Water
  • Good Vibrations
  • American Idiot
  • Billie Jean
  • Maggie May
  • Mary Jane’s Last Dance

Boat Names for Lawyers or Judges

  • Naut Guilty
  • Billable Hours
  • Miss Trial
  • Pro Bait
  • Passing the Sandbar
  • Last Witness
  • Judge me Knot
  • Motion to Adjourn
  • Docked Wages

Fishing Boat Names

Fishing Boat Names

  • Kicking Bass
  • Happy Hooker
  • Shore I Am
  • Baits Motel
  • Fishful Thinking
  • Fin and Tonic
  • Cod Squad
  • The Rod Father
  • Off The Hook
  • In Reel Life

Boat Names for Medical Professionals

  • All Stitched Up
  • Boatox
  • Dock is In
  • Knot on Call
  • Out of Patients
  • Vitamin Sea
  • Post Op
  • Recovery Room
  • Reel Therapy
  • Gloves On
  • The Docktor’s Office

Funny Boat Names

  • New Kid on the Dock
  • Shark Bait
  • American Buoy
  • Ship-Faced
  • Go With the Flo
  • Something’s Fishy
  • The Great Gatsea
  • Boaty McBoatface
  • Fishin Impossible
  • Knot Paid For
  • What’s Up Dock?
  • Piece of Ship

Do any of the above boat names strike a chord with you? Let them inspire you to create a custom name for you’ll boat you’ll be proud to share on your hull! 

Is it Bad Luck to Rename a Boat?

Do you count yourself among the superstitious set? If so, you might believe it is bad luck to rename a boat. 

Sailors have many superstitions about luck at sea. According to old maritime legend, Poseidon or Neptune (the gods of the sea) know every boat by name. If you want to rename your boat, you need to have a purging ceremony to remove the existing name from their ledgers. If not, you might face consequences from Poseidon or Neptune. It is said that any items carried aboard a boat that has been renamed before the purging ceremony will be lost at sea.

What is a Purging Ceremony?

A purging ceremony is a kind of boat renaming ceremony. To have a purging or renaming ceremony, you’ll need to remove all traces of the boat’s name from the boat itself and all documents related to the boat. 

Then you’ll need to speak to the gods of the sea themselves. You can find a few traditional statements to read online. Regardless, you’ll want to be gracious to the gods of the sea in your words. Additionally, don’t reveal the new name of the boat before the purging ceremony is over. This might bring 7 years of bad luck.

After the purging ceremony, you can hold the christening ceremony as described above to make the new name official. 

Is it Bad Luck to Rename a Boat?

What Should You NOT Name a Boat?

Part of understanding boat naming etiquette is knowing what not to name your boat. There are three major “don’ts” that come with naming a boat. 

Per information from the USCG, your boat’s name should contain no more than 33 characters. This might not seem like a lot, but you’d be surprised. You certainly have room to be creative within the required 33 characters!

Additionally, you need to play nice when naming your boat. You can’t use any swear words or otherwise profane language when naming your boat.  Along the same lines, you must not use any ethnic or racial slurs in naming your boat. 

Finally, your boat name should not include any language that is used to seek help at sea. This could make things confusing when it comes to soliciting assistance in an emergency. Some of the common phrases and distress signals used by boaters who need help include. 

  • Mayday: 
  • Pan-Pan
  • Securite

Avoid the use of these terms and phrases, or anything that is phonetically similar, when naming your boat.

Following these guidelines and avoiding the pitfalls above can ensure your boat is named correctly and boat naming etiquette is followed.

Enjoy Your Boat with Port Sanibel Marina

What’s in a name? A lot. Boat naming etiquette is an important part of boat ownership. You want a name that makes you smile every time you think of spending time on the water.

Port Sanibel Marina makes it easy to enjoy your boat. As a full-service marina, Port Sanibel Marina offers everything you need to make the most of your time at sea. From boat storage to comfortable amenities, you can count on Port Sanibel Marina to take care of you and your boat.

Contact Port Sanibel Marina today by calling (239) 437-1660 or reach out online now.