Are There Any Rules for Naming a Boat?

Owning a boat is a privilege for anyone and just like any other material possession an individual truly adores, naming a boat is a customary practice but many are curious to know are there any rules for naming a boat. The practice of naming boats had long been started by the ancient Romans and Greeks thousands of years ago. Before the boat sailed from the Nile River, a ceremony was observed, asking the gods and goddess of the great sea to protect its voyage. The celebrator talked to Poseidon, the god of the sea, and mentioned the name of the boat so the god may log its name and keep an eye on it during its journey. Since then, christening a boat before its voyage has been part of the nautical tradition in several countries.

You have probably heard or read a number of superstitions about naming boats such as do not use the name of a sunken ship for the present may fall on its same fate and changing the name of a boat gives bad luck. To begin with, superstitions are not rules so they have nothing to do with naming boats. In fact, they are not even true at all. There is no maritime organization, not even the US Coast Guard, that requires a name for a boat. In the US, Coast Guard requires “vessels of five net tons or more used in fishing activities on navigable waters of the U.S. or in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), or used in coastwise trade must be documented.” This documentation means proper ownership registration upon which a registration official number will be assigned on each boat. The official number of a boat is marked hidden from the public eyes, presumably inside the navigation deck. And so, a boat name is simply for easy identification. The rules and regulations for water vessels vary per country, so you might want to check with your own local government.

Furthermore, there are no legislated rules in naming a boat but you need to be mindful and use your common sense, too. Remember that this is your property and pride so choose a name that represents yourself in any aspect of your life. List down a couple of name choices and go over each one, keeping in mind a possible mayday situation. Keep your boat name short and easy to understand when spoken because when time comes that you would need to make a mayday call, the radio communication officer can easily recognize your vessel’s name.

Once you have decided on a final name for your boat, the most fun part is christening your vessel with a short celebration—the pouring of champagne on the bow and messages of bon voyage from your well-wishers.