What’s In a Name?

A couple of months ago I commented on several boat names I came across.  These were names I thought were unusual, or discordant in some way.  While in the Hampton Roads area recently, I had occasion to walk the docks in several marinas, and collected images of quite a few boat names which I thought I would document here.

Let me say at the beginning, that a boat name is very a personal thing.  It provides an occasion to say something about the owners’ personality, or life, or preferences.  Sometimes they are just a private joke amongst the owners.  Sometimes they reference work or pleasure or hobbies.  Often, they memorialize or honor a family member.  Most often, though, the reader of the name won’t understand the reference.  An example of this is the name of our boat:

Our Sailboat, Cay of Sea

To get beyond the obvious (?) play on words, you would need to know that I am a professional musician by training and vocation.  What seems to be less obvious (as we have learned) is the pronunciation of “Cay” is “key” (“cay” is an older English spelling of “key,” which is a small island, like Key West, FL).  Yes, it’ a cutesy play on words, referencing my career and sailing in the same phrase. What usually gets a chortle though, is our dinghy’s name, which is C-minor.

Okay, so this is a lot of explanation.  When viewing other’s boat names, we don’t usually have the benefit of that much information, so some of the names seem very strange indeed.  I once had a friend who owned a wonderful old 29-foot wooden tug-style trawler.  It was such a beautiful character-boat, but the previous owner must have liked golf also, because he named the boat Par-4.  It aways seem odd to me that his boat should get named after his other hobby.  I always wondered if his golf bag was embroidered with “Tommy-the-Tug-Boat.”

So if you recognize your boat’s moniker here, please don’t be offended.  I’m not passing judgement or being critical, and I admit that I don’t know the back story of your boat’s name.  I’m just noting the unusual – as it appears to me.


For the sake of organization, I’ve classified the names into six groups: person-based names; ironic names; mismatched hobbies; clever word-plays; obscure meanings; and my favorites.  And I’ve added a bonus photo just for fun (talk about ironies!)

Person-Based Names

Seems pretty obvious this based on someone’s name.  Clever, though.

Again, inventive.  Must be someone named Ken, or Kinsey, or something like that.  Kind of a mouthful on the VHF, though.

Maybe this isn’t a person.  Jughead.  Really?  Otherwise, I don’t get it.

Ironic Names

I liked this one.  With the cost of boating, it can definitely be a bad habit.  This owner is pretty obviously into fishing, because on the transom of his boat is this phrase:

“Fear no Fish” made me smile.

Really ironic.  Most people begin with a modestly sized boat, then cave in to “5-foot-itis” and trade to  progressively larger vessels.  This one is a 50-footer.  I had the wrong lens with me, and couldn’t figure out how to get the entire boat in the view finder.

Mismatched Hobbies

Remember my example from the golf course?  Here’s another one:

Two things come to mind:  1) Would this owner rather be quaffing drafts at the golf course club?  2) I hope he isn’t operating his boat under the influence.  In some ways, it’s worse than driving a car under the influence.

Um… they named their boat “Cowboy Bob.”  Cowboy?  For a boat?  I have to admit to not getting it again.

Clever Word-Plays

This is the largest category with lots of good stuff.  We boaters seem to have an affinity for mis-spellings, word-plays, and puns (I definitely include myself here).

I thought this was actually pretty clever.  Google search reveals that this domain name is available, if anyone is interested.

Keeping with the fishing theme.

Again, pretty clever.  If you like puns, that is.  If not, it’s a groaner.

I like this one too, because aquaholic is kind of what I am.

It’s not clear to me how the graphics go with the name, but they must mean something to the owner.

This is something my dad used to say.  “Did you have a large time?”

Okay.  This one completely mystifies me.  I’m not even going to explore the possible meanings.

Another for the “I don’t get it” list.  I understand duct vs duck… but how does “Blind” fit in with “Duct” other than sounding similar to duck blind?

I like this idea.  The word-play is a bit overdone in marinas, but the idea is to take the time on the water while you have it.  I can “amen” to that.

Another play on Sea.

Yeah, funny.  Another mouthful for the VHF, but it seems to roll right off the tongue.

Obscure Meanings

The second ‘S’ is obscured by the dock box.  I think I get this one now, but I had to look it up.  A business reference, apparently, alluding to sales figures.  I didn’t see the lady on the boat when I took the photo, and she seemed a bit displeased that I took the picture.  When asked why, I told her I was just collecting boat names, which seemed to satisfy her.

I don’t understand why “winds” is mis-spelled.  Another business reference?

Someone coined a word and applied it to their transom.  Combination of ludicrous and ridiculous.  Twice, now…?

There has to be more to the story that the name suggests.

Maybe this should be in the irony category.  Surprise was the name of Capt Jack Aubrey’s frigate featured in many of the Patrick O’Brien novels.  This boat has very little resemblance to Jack Aubrey’s Surprise.  By the way, it’s enormous.  It must be close to 50 feet long by 20-25 foot beam.

Not only am I mystified regarding the meaning, I’m not even sure how to pronounce this name.  Is it gallic?  Irish?  Okay – I think I tracked it down:  It might be an acrostic that fleshes out as “Look Into My Eyes.  Do I Look Like I Give A ______ ” (use your imagination here).  Hmmm….  If that is the meaning, I guess that says something about the owner.  Most boat names do.

My Favorite

The most clever name I saw is pictured below.  I don’t know what the owner intended to communicate with this name, but I love the double mis-spelling, and it reminds me of the Beverly Hill Billies theme song, which always makes me smile.

Your Turn

So what do you think?  Which is your favorite?  Is it even pictured here?  Let me know about other boat names that struck you funny.  Some names can be pretty risqué, and I probably won’t publish them if they’re over the edge, but let me know about funny names you’ve seen.

The bonus photo!  Seen in the parking lot of the marina.  One of these things is not like the others…

Two Harleys and a pink scooter.

  1. Jan Sopoci said:

    Great thread!!! Btw, just a guess, but the owner of “Trade Wins” probably trades (or did trade) stocks, or some other market. Prior to my youngest daughter’s death, I’d planned on naming my boat either “Short Sail” (because I made some nice money being short the market in 2007-08, meaning I made money when it declined), or “Absolute Return”, which is an investing strategy.


    • I suspect you’re right. I think I actually mused that it might be a business reference too.

      I am so sorry about your daughter. I don’t know what I would do if that happened in my family.


  2. I thought “Ludicarus” had a reference to “Icarus” the Greek who flew too close to the sun…

    • I saw that too, but couldn’t work out the connection to “Lud” – what do you think it is?

      … and thanks for the comment!

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