Tips for naming your boat

10th March 2021 Jessica Watson

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that, as a young girl, I obsessed over boat names, writing them in my diary and drawing them onto boat sketches pinned to my bedroom walls. But when it comes to actually naming a boat, rather than fantasising about it, things become a little more difficult.

 I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s pulled my hair out over naming a new boat, fending off hundreds of helpful and not so helpful suggestions from friends and family. And then, of course, there are the superstitions that surround renaming a boat, with some particularly superstitious sailors simply refusing to rename a boat. 

 Chris Lloyd-Parker, the owner of Boat Names Australia, has seen a lot of boat names over the years so I thought he’d be a great person to share some tips on choosing a name.

Practical considerations

Firstly, Chris advises boat owners not to rush, saying, "People think of a good name but then, a week later, think of an even better one. Usually they don’t bother changing it, but we had one guy recently who changed his name three times in three weeks."

 While funny names are great, don’t order your stickers before thinking about the different scenario that you might need to use the name. For example, Chris tells that one of his staff once heard a mayday while sailing the Whitsundays from a boat called Just Joking. As you can imagine, this caused a great deal of confusion, and the crew of the boat was told to stop fooling around. With bad reception, it took some time to establish it was a genuine distress call. 

Another thing that should be considered is the length of a name. "I do have some names that end up being 3-metres down the side of a 4-metre boat," Chris tells me. And even those with bigger boats should consider whether a lengthy name could be squeezed onto the small stern of a yacht or onto other desired positions.

 Chris also advises properly consulting on boat names with your partner. 


 So where do you start? Well, I think a great first step is to consider a boat’s personality. There might be something about the way she sails or motors along that could lead to a good name.

Chris likes names like Ragamuffin, Hobo and Sea Tramp which reflect the cruising lifestyle, but he also appreciates some of the clever and funny names that people come up with such as Control Alt Delete.

 He has a lot of orders for names which are made up of the names of two or more family members and suggests that while naming the boat after your girlfriend or boyfriend is another approach, the longevity of the relationship should be considered for those who are superstitious about renaming their boats.   


 So what do you do when you find a lovely boat with a name that you just can’t bring yourself to repeat over the radio? Well, there’s a common consensus among superstitious boaties that a proper renaming ceremony will elevate the good luck associated with renaming your boat.

While there are any number of renaming ceremonies out there, Chris suggests that boaties need to appease Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea, by firstly removing every trace of the old name, including where it might be recorded on logbooks, maintenance logs or lifebuoys.   

 Next is the fun part: buy a good bottle of champagne (surely the quality of champagne coincides with the quantity of good luck?) and invite friends along. With friends gathered, Neptune (and possible any long-suffering family members) should be acknowledged before the champagne is either smashed or poured over the bow of the boat. If you are a fan of smashing a nylon stocking will prevent glass from going everywhere. If signage for the new name has already been applied, it should be covered and not revealed till the ceremony.