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HomeCruiseNaming a Boat... What's in a Name? Asked Shakespeare

Naming a Boat… What’s in a Name? Asked Shakespeare

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I was packing my duffel, about to fly out to Australia to sail for a few months.

“We’ve some relatives in New Zealand,” said my mother.

“You could look them up.”She paused. “They’ve got one of those embarrassing names, if only I could remember it.”

“Er, Philpott?” I suggested.

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“No, I’ve think it’s Hogg.”I thought about Hogg. Didn’t seem much worse than Tims, to me.

Since then, I’ve always been interested in names. I’ve discovered it’s much easier to name a new-born babe, than naming a boat. That’s really very difficult. My various grand-children, all ten, had no sooner made their appearances than they had names.

“Yes, she definitely looks like a Susanna,” declared my daughter. In fact, she looked more like a squashed tomato. “She does,” I agreed. Sometimes I surprise myself and rise to the social occasion in an adequate manner. Births are one of those times. Deaths, they’re more difficult. You can hardly say, “Well, good riddance – you have to admit, she was an old curmudgeon.”Still, I’m straying from the subject; let’s get back.

Well, now – boat names. Trinidad is definitely the place to go to for boat names. I know. I’ve sailed European waters; Atlantic islands; ‘Down Under’ waters; I’ve spent months in Fort Lauderdale and the Bahamas; I’ve sailed up the Intracoastal waterway, and off California; but Trinidad definitely gets my vote for the best (awful) names. Or, for speed boats, the worst ones.

The Perils of Boat Naming: A Cautionary Tale

I love the cruisers’ daily net; it’s a rich source of names.

First, there’s the Tweetie-pie group.

Romance, Romance, this is Truelove.”

“”Can’t be true,” I think.

And how about:“Cherie, Cherie, this is Darling, Darling.”

Then there’s the slightly funny, but OK, group.

“August Moon, August Moon, Harvest Moon.”

Apple pie, Apple Pie, this is Voracious.”

“Wander, Wander, this is Blue Yonder.”

Autumn Days, this is Autumn Daze too, only it’s spelt differently from yours.”

Wanderlust, Wanderlust, the American Wanderlust I mean, this is Wanderlust, the British one, I mean.”

There’s the unbelievable group.

Can you imagine trying to put out a Mayday with the name “Quack-quack”?

Or, hard to believe – but true – I saw a sail-boat actually named


The mind boggles.

  • There’s the financially orientated category, with names like
  • Totally Mortgaged”,
  • Broke but smiling”,
  • Gone for bust

The truly yukky category is to be found among speed-boats.How about “Hard on” and “Up your skirt”?“Devil spawn”?

Sailing with Charlie with The Itinerary

Free times a night”?

Effin proud”?

Just go and look for yourself.

If you ever had any doubts about your own boat’s name, I promise you you’ll just love it after you’ve looked around a speed-boat yard.

Your boat’s name – do you like it? Are you superstitious about changing it?

Previous boats of mine were called “Cavalcade” and “Ariadne”, both names I liked very much.

My last boat was“Therapist.”

One evening, I was sitting below reading, comfortable and happy, when I heard people pass by on the dock.

“Just look at that!” I heard. The group fell about laughing. “How could anybody name a boat “The Rapist”?

I cringed into a corner, trying to become invisible, feeling hurt and sad.

A friend mailed me a cassette tape; told me it was time I listened to some music other than classical. On it I heard the song “Moon River” and I fell in love with it. Just the most absolutely totally perfect name for my boat, especially as I was planning my solo trip from England to the Caribbean.

“Two drifters off to see the world ….”

The so-called Rapist was promptly renamed “Moon River.” I thought it a lovely name for a boat, and still do.

I now have bought a larger boat, a catamaran, called “Europa”.

Too political-sounding for me.

Sailing with Charlie – Life’s Choices

I have to change that.But what to?A catamaran has two hulls …. So, perhaps, “Two Drifters”?

No, I just don’t know.

I’ll leave you with two little tales. A friend of mine was going to buy a house in France. He produced a photo for me, beaming with pride. It was not a house; it showed a sail-boat. My eye-sight’s not good: I peered at it.

“Oh, her name?”

I’ve called her “The Mary Davidson.” He smirked.“Mary Davidson?”, I repeated, feeling a bit stupid. From his tone I felt I really ought to know the name.

“Yes, my mother-in-law’s name”, he answered

“A boat?” I asked.  “But what about the house in France?”

He looked a bit sheepish. “Well, no; that was my wife’s idea, actually. It was never my idea, I always wanted a boat.”

So the name was by way of appeasement. Not even his wife’s name! Poor trade for a house in France.

My other little story is of the time I saw a big cruiser approaching. Something long was painted along the bow. Couldn’t make it out, so I got out the binoculars. Words …. what were they? Her name?

Surely not! It was “Thank you, Aunt Dorothy.”

Well, if Aunt Dorothy is sitting up there on her little cloud, looking down, I’m sure Mary Davidson will one day be right next to her. They’ll be making comparisons.

“Mine’s definitely bigger than yours,” Dorothy will boast.

Which reminds me of one or two names I’ve seen on speed-boats, but which are much too naughty too print!

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