What’s in a (boat) name?

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What’s In A Name, How To Name a Boat

The arrival of a brand new Marex 360 Cabriolet Cruiser to our Berthon Spain workshop has got me thinking about boat names. The naming of a brand new boat, alike to the naming of a new child, is a huge responsibility! Not to be taken lightly. You are creating a legacy.

The traditional purpose of a boat name is quite simply to identify a particular vessel. A name was required in order to communicate between boats out at sea. Nowadays, yachts have registration numbers, more akin to a cars’ number plate, or a passport number, to prove that your boat has been legally registered. Depending on the flag state your yacht is registered under, this registration number identifies the type of vessel, use of vessel, the owner’s details and additionally, that yacht must adhere to the laws and regulations of that flag.

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Boat Name Ideas

It fascinates me how a boat name can define the character of the owner. How can a name infer what type of person you are?

  • What label are you applying to yourself and your boat – are you a serious racer? A weekend cruiser?
  • Are you building a majestic vessel in which to explore the world?
  • Or do you prefer something just plain silly, so people remember it?!

And then of course, displaying the name on the hull. A legal requirement, but nonetheless open to variation.

  • Do you want everyone to know who you are?
  • Do you want to be seen?
  • Do you want brightly coloured yacht decals against a white hull?

It is a common sight in Palma de Mallorca to see superyachts with extravagant designs and back lighting around the yacht name. Often you will see imagery from the name worked into the design, for example YACHT MARIPOSA would have butterfly yacht decals on her hull.

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There are of course hundreds of years of tradition guiding many of us in name choices. Selection of a name used to be quite strict, with vessels only bearing the name of an important female figure in the life of the captain. Alternatively, a mythical figure or deity could be called upon to name your vessel. The rules now are less strict, and as long as your chosen name is available in the requested register and does not include profanities (the UK register will now check names against the urban dictionary as well), you are pretty much free to choose any name you like. I find that sailors are generally a superstitious lot and the majority still take these things seriously. Along with the notion that you must never rename your boat for fear of angering the gods of the sea and wind.

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From a more pragmatic viewpoint, certain things must be thought of whilst deciding a name. In time of emergency would you be able to repeat it numerous times, in a short space of time? It must be easy to understand over the radio. Equally important, you do not want to cause panic unduly; I once heard a story of a boat named HEY DAY, in a very busy shipping area, which doubtless caused all manner of confusion.

At Berthon Spain in Palma de Mallorca, if a client wants to change either the boat name or just the way it is displayed, we always use Suzie and Julian from Godbolt Graphics. They told me how some of the most memorable names have been ones completely made up by the owners. Apparently a common, yet tragic theme, is a name in memory of a lost son or daughter. One of my personal favourite themes for a boat name is sea life, in particular seabirds, for example ALBATROSS, SHEARWATER or CORMORANT. The colour blue is also a popular choice in many guises; BLUE HORIZON, CIAN, BLUE MOON. In the bay of Palma alone, you will find a plethora of repeated names like BLACK PEARL, DIGNITY, SERENITY, ESCAPE, CARPE DIEM. And I’m sure this is the case for marinas around the world!

What would you name your boat?

Contact andrew.fairbrass@berthonspain.com.

Suzie & Julian T – Godbolt Graphics: http://www.godboltgraphics.com/

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