How to Name a Boat

13 Jul

Or rather, how not to name your boat.

Every year BoatUS posts the top ten boat names based on orders they receive for decals. Frankly, these names are crap. Here are the 2011 winners. You just know that these lean heavily toward the powerboat market, as they have no common sense anyway, but they give a taste for just how sad a state most boats are in when it comes to their owners naming them.


#1 Seas the Day

#2 Nauti Buoy

#3 Aquaholic

#4 Dream Weaver

#5 Pegasus

#6 Serenity Now

#7 Second Wind

#8 Liquid Asset

#9 Miss Behavin'

#10 Blew By You


Seas the Day. Number one. Meaning a whole bunch of people slapped stickers on their boats with that name. So lame.


I'm writing this in the hopes of helping the folks out there who, for one reason or another, are completely and utterly unoriginal in their boat naming. I walk down the docks and just shake my head sadly at all the idiotic names splayed across hulls.




1. One word only please. Two if you absolutely can't come up with anything. And three only if you are mentally unstable. Here's how I read this.


One word name: this boat may actually be going somewhere. The owner realizes that throughout the world he will often need to spell his boat name phonetically over the VHF. Under ten letters is preferable, anything more and you'll be repeating it indefinitely. Mine is bad enough: Bravo, Uniform, Mike, Foxtrot, Uniform, Zulu, Zulu, Lima, Echo.


Two word name: this boat may sail from Florida to the Bahamas, or California to Mexico. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Those are worthy destinations. The names just have that vibe of somebody not going any further.


Three word name: this boat will never leave the dock.


2. If you are a catamaran owner please do everybody a big favor and avoid the use of any of these: Cat, Kat, Two, Dual, Meow, Purr. We get it, it's a catamaran, also known as a cat, and it has two hulls instead of one. Yes, yes, we all know that. You are not being witty in any way shape or form by pointing this out. This would be like naming your baby girl, Gurl.


3. Please for the love of all things holy, forgo the word WIND. Yes, you are a sailboat. Yes, the wind propels you. Yes, you are a Wind Dreamer. A Wind Catcher. A Windsong. You are full of hot air.


4. Using a sailing term to mean something else is not witty, it is something best left to rappers. Wind Ketcher. Barf. Y Knot. Nauti Buoy. Sail Pending. Barf, barf, and more barf.


5. Please avoid the use of your real names. Combo husband and wife names really make me wonder what size skirt it is that that guy wears. And naming a boat after your wife or child is so eighteenth century. Also, it will not get them to like sailing any more than they otherwise would.


6. This is the best advice you can be given. Believe me. When choosing a name you must think in terms of what you will become known as. Keeping in mind that when out cruising nobody you meet is going to remember your real names, they will only know you by your boat name.


For example, our boat name is Bumfuzzle, and we are therefore known as, “The Bums.” It's perfect really. Nothing could be more fitting. Friends that we shared this tip with decided to name their boat Rockstar so that they could forever be known in anchorages around the globe as, “The Rockstars.” They aren't of course, I don't think they even play an instrument, but who doesn't want to be a rockstar?


7. And these days there is one more tip to be had. Pick a name with an open domain, because let's face it, there isn't a cruiser left out there that doesn't blog about themselves. Because we're all just so darn special. And as far as annoying names go, a blog with a domain name of, is a definite winner.


All right, so that's enough to get you started in the right direction. If you've found your name picked on in the above, take heart, you can always change the name. It's not a child after all.  


  1. Tina Peters

    What about the city on the boat? We live in Pennsylvania, bought the boat in Florida but the boat lives in the Bahamas. What city do we need to put on the boat? I’ve found different opinions but no real rules.

  2. Capt Mike Smith

    Buying a boat tomorrow – possibly our last one, given our years. Wife and I could not agree on a name for it. Sitting in the Blue Dog in Matlacha, FL, having a burger and brew – well, what do you know! Gazing at the rack of local craft brew dispensers, there it was: Last Laugh (by Palm City Brewers, FT Myers FL). And so shall it be.

  3. Chris

    We’re refitting an Allied Princess 36 we won from a Boat Angel auction. The winning bid was $100, and I’m pushing to name her Sea-Note. I think it’s clever, the wife doesn’t think anyone else will get it or care. Any thoughts?

  4. Buckanear Bill

    Expecting to buy a sailboat soon, I am interested in naming boats, so thanks for this piece. W-a-a-a-a-y back in the mid 70’s I had a Seafarer 24 which I named “EOS”. I wanted a simple but unique name when about half the sailboats seemed to be named “Dawn Treader”. I didn’t need to be concerned the Mongolian Coast Guard might have an issue with pronouncing it, since I didn’t expect to see them in Long Island Sound. I do feel reassured now that I have picked the right name, one that says something about me and should be most unique. I’m not telling due to the unique thing, but rest assured it won’t be “Right Guard”.

  5. Jocko

    Good advice here on naming your boat. If you are staying in or around your area then it’s no mater what you call it. ‘Kens Boat’ or ‘Eddys Trawler’ will do, but no so if you are a voyaging boat.

    Voyaging boats must look ahead with an eye to perhaps calling for help in an emergency, or interracting with foreign speakers in far flung ports of call.

    Long and nonsensical boat names with a comical twist like Nauti Byoys and Bumfuzzle, Escape Pod and the like will only cause confusion on the squelchy-staticy VHF radio.

    The very last thing you want when calling the coast guard to come save your life, or some Port Captain to request a tow into harbor before you drift upon the rocks, or when hailing other boats who may not be familiar with your Wacky sense of humor is CONFUSION!

    There is a YouTube video of someone coming across a sailboat adrift with tattered sails. Because of the distance, a radio relay from boat to boat was needed to get messages back and forth to the english speaking Coast Guard.

    The adrift vessels name was ‘Escape Pod’. Time was wasted way trying to explain that the vessel in distress was not an Escape Pod, but was Escape Pod. Luckily no lives were endangered as everyone had escaped the escape pod, but prescious ‘Lifesaving’ minutes were needlessly wasted.

    Imagine how much worse it could have been if you were relaying a Mayday call through Portueguese fishing boats, back to a Senagalese Coast Guard. You might be unhappily inhaling water by the time you were accurately identified.

    Reserve your silly, quirky, nosensical,weird, hard to understand names for toy boats in your bathtub, they have no place on a boat that’s actually going somewhere.

  6. Alan Silken

    Bumfuzzle is a word, one of those words that sounds like what it means. It means befuddled. It’s a fine boat name, especially if it’s also the title of a book you wrote.
    My boat is a Herrrshoff S boat, named Firefly, a name she’s had since she was built in 1926.

  7. Simon

    There are boat names and then there’s what they are known as…

    A local yacht here is widely known as the ‘Eternal Flame’. (Never goes out.)

    As for ‘Bumfuzzle’? I have to say it’s a name only an owner could love… which perhaps brings us back to the very premise of the article!

  8. D and Don Wogaman

    Our boat came with the name SOUTHERN CROSS. No change needed. She had already been around the world, so therefore did not fit into your assessment of names that are longer than one word do not go anywhere. Easy to say, three syllables, and rarely misunderstood. Yes, it was misunderstood when we were in the Caribbean occasionally, when she was called SUDDEN CROSS. :-) Made us smile.

  9. Vikki

    We are Moriel. Moriel is the angel of the wind (mentioned like once in the Bible). We made the “l” very tall and put a wings and halo on it. Moriel has traveled 12,000nm (East coast of USA a few times and 12 Caribbean Islands). 1) Always easy to say/spell on the radio 2) We completed lots of entry paperwork over the years and the name was typed quickly and fit in the allotted spaces. 3) Never another boat named Moriel so no confusing us 4) easily said by people of different islands with different accents. Last, we were not known as Moriel or the angels (that’s funny)…we were Jim and Vikki.

  10. Jeff

    Bumfuzzle is one of the best books I have ever read. Love it. Did not take your advise on naming out boat. We decided to go with something more memorable. s/v Just Passing Wind

  11. Noreen

    When I read “Bumfuzzle” it makes me think of fuzzy (very hairy) bums (asses). I am guessing that wasn’t your intent, but perhaps I am wrong.

  12. Jeff K

    Our boat is named Lorne Randolph, after my late grandfather. This way he gets to go around the world with us and complete a dream he never fulfilled. Yes, it might be a bit long to spell, but it means something, and just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge my boat by its name. That being said, if we move on to another boat, we will shorten it to “Lorne R II”.

  13. Ty

    ha! too bad you undid yourself with the name bumfuzzle. being known as the bums is kinda funny, but bumfuzzle. thats weird

  14. Alexandria Martinez

    My brother bought a boat for his son and his son is struggling to name the center console boat. These tips will come in handy as he tries to think of something to name his new boat. I think keeping it at one word is a good choice since he is only 8 he probably won’t be able to think of a more complicated name regardless.

  15. Noah Frazier

    This is indefinitely the most negative and attitude drenched article I’ve ever read. For future reference, rather than exclusively focusing on what to NOT name my boat, offer helpful suggestions and perhaps slip your synical views in as comic relief. Thank you.

  16. Suzanna

    I thought the photo showed the Grand Prize Winner of pathetic names….then read the article and realized that the man who named his own boat Bumfuzzle thinks he’s standing on high ground as he looks out and judges….oh, and Emperor, how do you like your new clothes?

  17. Crisco

    Kind of amusing to read your post. It’s. It’s not hard to see from the previous comments who named their boats before they read your post. lol I’m glad I read it so I don’t make the same mistakes they did.

  18. Spicy

    How to name a boat?-legally, not emotionally! The original post is so far off course, Bumfuzzle says it quite well. Does the name get listed on the registration? Must it be a one and only? These questions are what this is about (or aboat, haha-yuk, might as well say abumfuzzle). So maybe some other straight sailing skipper has an answer with better navigation. Or they are holding out (in a similar silly way) like it’s sweet smellin’ tuna honey hole.

  19. Andy

    I’m sorry if this sounds grouchy, just getting my coffee, but, while I do agree that the list of oft-used play on words names are indeed unoriginal, perhaps those who named their boat Bumfuzzle should not instruct others on how to name a boat. Bumfuzzle. Really? Reminds me of the glass house/throwing stones analogy. FYI: The reasons you have to keep spelling the name of your boat? It’s not a real word, and no matter how many times you repeat it, they presume a VHF receiver malfunction. Just my two cents. All the best.

  20. Kristie

    One thing I would never do is put down someone else boat name, just saying… I guess I will remember if I ever hear Bumfuezzed on the radio needing help. Kristie, s/v Sail Pending.

  21. Romain

    Great article, really funny. Thanks for sharing.
    We are looking forward to naming our boat next winter.

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  23. Bruce

    This is pretty funny; I might have to find your Paypal button! I’m shopping for a boat. I know the make and size, just gotta find the boat. Thinking about names and what fits! Honest, I actually checked the domain name availability on two names. I mean, really, when I leave, I’m gone…my Facebook name changes to the boat, a boat blog goes up, all other websites come down and I become the boat. It needs to be a good name.

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