A good boat requires a good name. A nameless boat is a sorry sight to behold—and there are more nameless boats out there than you’d think. It’s not hard to see why. Coming up with potential boat names is no easy task. There are certain conventions you might feel obliged to follow. Cool boat names seem to be required to have a bit of wit about them. Funny boat names often need to be built on top of a hilarious and subtle pun. And naturally, these names have to be unique boat names.

Boaty McBoatface

Well, that’s what people think anyway. The truth is that good boat names don’t have to be funny, witty, unique, or particularly clever. They just have to be special to you.

But that still requires some thought though.

Contrary to popular belief, you can take as long as you need to come up with a good name. Despite what tradition and superstition suggests, you can use your boat before going through the motions of a christening ceremony. A boat can remain nameless until the perfect name occurs to you. It’s not going to fall under some maritime curse, and you won’t anger the gods if you take it for a spin before you’ve given it a name.

Besides, even a brand new boat has probably been tested in the water before it was delivered, either by the manufacturer or by prospective buyers. If any sea god was to be offended, they didn’t do anything about it then, and if any curse was to fall on anyone, it would be on the person who did the quality assurance, and not you.

Granted, it takes some of the romance out of those old nautical christening traditions, but surely it’s better to christen you boat at a later date with a name that it truly deserves rather than rush into a christening with a poorly chosen moniker? Wouldn’t it be better to select a name that suits your boat’s character after you’ve had time to properly get to know each other? Taking your time makes a lot more sense, right?

Even if you decided to take your time, you might still require a little bit of inspiration. Here are a few important things to keep in mind as you start your search for the best boat names.

How To Choose A Boat Name

If you’re struggling to find a boat name that reflects your personality, try some of these approaches. It beats wading through pages and pages of boat puns that don’t fit the bill. Instead, take these ideas on board and come up with something special.

How To Name A Boat

#01. Keep it short

Good ship names are short and memorable. Ideally, you should aim for a name that’s a single word. You can go up to three if you think it needs it, but any more is overkill. Single words are best: they’re easy to remember, cheaper to print (if you’re paying for your boat decals per character!), and easy to understand. It’s important that they’re easy to understand, especially when you have to make your presence known over the radio waves.

#02. Aim close to home

By close to home, we mean think of your family. Popular boat names come directly from close bonds. The name of a person you love, or a beloved family pet, or the name of a place that holds some kind of significance in your heart. All of these can make unique boat names that mean something distinctly personal to you. Historically, naming your boat after someone special was a common theme. These days, you can riff off of that theme in a number of ways.

#03. Make it personal

Think about your profession, or a particular hobby that helps define you as a person, and see if you can come up with a name that symbolizes those things. A police officer’s boat could be called the Black Maria, while an attorney might get a thrill out of naming their boat Sea Trial, or Miss Demenour. In terms of hobbyists, a clarinet enthusiast might use a name lie Woodwind, or a gypsy jazz aficionado might like a name like Django.

#04. Use pop culture

Another way of coming up with good boat names is to mine your book, film, and music collection. If you have a favorite book, why not choose something straight from its pages? Don’t go for the obvious Moby Dick Pequod, but try branching out and finding something more subtle. Naturally, they don’t have to be nautical in nature, but a nautical sounding name is always a solid choice for a boat name.

#05. Use comedy

There’s no shortage of comedy out on the water. Some boat names are hilarious puns, or rely on a bit of double entendre to create a memorable name. Cirrhosis of the River, Nauti-Buoy, Master Baiter, and similar sounding names are always good value. If you’re looking for good fishing boat names, do a Google search for British fish and chip shops. Those guys know how to come up with a fishing-related name or two. The Codfather, Oh My Cod, Fishcotheque…Sure, they’re oddly specific, but they’re also pretty funny.

#06. Use a name generator

If you’re really stuck for inspiration, you can always try using a name generator. These generators use random selection to come up with apt and interesting names. Since choosing a boat name seems to be a regular problem for boaters, we’ve put together our own boat name generator to help you out.

#07. Try something traditional

If in doubt, you can always play it safe by going for something traditional. You can’t go wrong with something from the classics, or something from ancient mythology. Elemental gods are great choices, and you could use Poseidon after the God of the Sea, or Boreas, Notus, Eurus, or Zephyr, after the gods of the North, South, East, and West Winds respectively. You can’t go wrong with something classic, so if you run out of ideas, go with something like this.

In Summary: The Truth About Boat Names

There’s no shortage of advice about finding the perfect boat name, and there’s no shortage of superstition out there too. Some will tell you that you can’t name it this, or you can’t call it that, and that you shouldn’t sail before you’ve put a name on it. At the end of the day, superstition is superstition. Don’t let a bit of superstition get in the way of you doing things your way.

Choose a name that you like, when you’re good and ready, and display it proudly on your transom. As long as it isn’t offensive and you can say it clearly in an emergency, then name it whatever you want.