When we’re investing money and time into something, it’s not unusual to want to name it. We do it with most of our vehicles, from cars to motorbikes and motorhomes to boats. It kind of gives us a sense of personal ownership. It’s no longer a lump of metal or wood; it’s something we have an emotional attachment to. After all, these are vehicles that you may have a wonderful adventure with or even make into your tiny home.
Why Name Your Boat?
In ancient times, sailors named their vessels after gods and saints. No doubt they hoped it would ensure a safe journey and even bring them treasures. Nor would they change a boat’s name in case it brought them bad luck.
That’s because legend has it that Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, records all the names of boats on a scroll called the Ledger of the Deep so he can protect them (note: Ledger of the Deep is a cool boat name). If the name changed, you’d be causing him a lot of grief and confusion, so he might be a little peeved with your boat.
None of us wants to get on the bad side of Poseidon, do we?
Some still believe it to be bad luck to change a boat’s name, but in reality, it’s about the paperwork. Often a boat may change hands, but the owner can’t be bothered to go through all the red tape to change it. For others, they want to make the boat their own and consider it all worthwhile.
Naming a boat helps with identification, along with the registration number. In the 16th century, it became a legal matter to name larger vessels. It was primarily for registration purposes.
The owner was expected to carve the name into the bow and the stern of the hull. Along with the registered port name where the vessel originated, and an assigned hull number. You can imagine, then, how inconvenient it became to change a boat’s name.
Today, there’s also a safety aspect in naming a boat. If a lifeboat is out to rescue you, they can identify the boat from a distance by its marked name, as well as its registration number. This can help to speed up any rescue attempts.
Whether it’s for tradition, safety, or registration, naming a boat is still popular today.
What are the Legalities of Naming a Boat?
In most areas, you are required by law to register all powered boats and other sailing vessels over 20 feet. Laws can vary in different States, so check with the local Fish and Boat Commission where your craft is going to be based.
Types of Boat Registration
Do I need a License Number for my Boat?
This relates to the location you wish to moor your boat. It may not necessarily be where you live. The registration permits you to take your vessel out in a particular area of the seas. You can still use other waters, but only if you follow the Reciprocity Laws.
If you wish to move the boat’s base permanently to another area, you will need to re-register. The boat must display the registration as it acts similarly to a numbered license plate on a car.
If you own a large commercial vessel, then you will be required to register with the Federal area and not the State area. You don’t need to do both.
What are the Title Deeds for a Boat?
The other form of registration is more to do with ownership. The Title Deeds for the boat are proof of ownership. This document contains information such as the model number for the engine, size of the boat, the 12 digits of the Hull Identification Number HIN).
This law came into practice in 1972. It generally relates more to the mechanics of the vessel, plus your personal details. To get the Title, it’s quite a complex legal process. As it requires proof of ownership you must keep your Bill of Sale.
You’ll also need to prove that you are who you say you are. Because of the legalities, it’s best to do it through a law firm that knows what they’re doing.
Despite all these necessary legal procedures, you don’t actually need to give your boat a name, by law. So long as your State or Federal Registration Numbers are clearly marked on the vessel, and in the right place; no name is legally required.
That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t have a name. Most private boat owners want to show off their pride and joy in a personal way.
How to Name Your Boat
Virtually all larger, and many smaller boats have names, whether powered with an engine or not. That’s because it makes the boat more personal.
A name lends a better sense of ownership, so we name our boats out of fondness. Other than the paperwork, there is no problem in changing the name if you’re boat isn’t new. You are the Captain of your own boat so make it yours with a name that means something to you.
Here, then, are a few tips for finding the right name for your craft:
- People’s names, such as a spouse, child, or famous person.
- How about after your profession, such as Bouncing Brickie, or Fire Fighter?
- Give it a pun, if you prefer humor, such as Knot Chubby, UR Splendid, Toe Bucket.
- Poetic names, such as Half Moon, Destiny, Sunny Waves.
- Fun-loving names, like It’s 5 O’Clock Here.
- Simple one-word names, such as Galaxy and Jubilee.
- Or the most obvious could be a nautical name, such as High Tide or Open Ocean.
Not only can you travel around the entire globe, if your boat is big enough, but you can call your boat what you want. Even if the name already exists.
Keep the title to one or two words, and don’t use long or complicated words. You want your boat’s name to have a jolly ring to it. It’s your little hideaway, so keep the name positive and happy sounding.
What are the Rules for a Boat Name?
There are several standards required by the US Coast Guard to ensure that your boat name is in compliance.
- According to the United States Coast Guard (USCC), you shouldn’t use over 33 characters.
- Characters must be a minimum of 3-inches in height.
- Characters must be separated by the width of the size.
- Character colors must stand out.
- You can use any font, color, and have it in capitals or lowercase.
- Stickers or carvings of the name itself must be put on the forward half of the vessel. Whilst your registration number has to be on both sides, your name doesn’t. Though for safety reasons, it’s best on both sides, in case you ever need rescuing.
- There are rules for the spacing of characters, so make sure you adhere to them.
- Plus, characters must be visible for Law Enforcement Officers to see from a distance.
- The boat’s name should not sound obscene, according to ethical requirements. Even in this rule you can keep your sense of humor and still use naughty words, such as ‘sex’. Names like, For Play, Seaduction, and even Master Baiter, are currently in use. So, the rules are quite relaxed. Be sensible and don’t insult any particular ethnicity or defined group of people, and your name should be accepted without any troubles.
Remember, it’s you who will be saying the name of your boat over your Marine VHF Radio all the time, so you will definitely regret Master Baiter. Keep it fun and easy to pronounce!
How Do I Put a Name on my Boat?
It doesn’t have to be complicated. You could paint it on, but the most popular method is to use decals, by the dry or wet installation. You could even put an image nearby, to be artistic or add a sense of fun to your name.
Just remember you must never cover or hinder your registration numbers. Of course, you could do it yourself, but make sure you get it right! If you make a mistake, here’s a guide to removing your boat decals.
Where to Get Boat Decals
To put on your boat name, why not buy custom made decals?
In this section, we’ll look at a couple of custom boat graphics companies that will make custom registration numbers and names for your boat.
- High-quality vinyl.
- Characters can be tailored to your own design.
- Made for use in both fresh and saltwater.
- Will stay fixed on glass, plastic, fiberglass, rubber, and many other surfaces.
- Weatherproof and fade resistant.
- Sold in pairs.
Although 1060 Graphics are only advertising numbers in this listing, they also provide letters. The good thing about these characters is that they come on one single decal, printed with the exact spacing between the characters.
You’re not fixing one number at a time. Instead, you attach the whole decal to the boat and then follow the instructions to peel it off, leaving the numbers in place.
There are 40 custom colors to choose from, so you know your characters will look good. This American based sign company inform us that their decals should last for up to 6-years in outdoor conditions. When you put in your order, if the option you want isn’t there, ie a different font, then send them a message along with the order. They make the decal to your exact specifications.
It’s important to input the right numbers for your registration and spell your name correctly.
- Custom Made Boat Decals By 1060 Graphics
- You Choose Your Custom Font, Color, Text, & Decal Size
- Professional Outdoor Vinyl- Rated For Fresh & Saltwater Use
- Apply To Metal, Plastic, Rubber, Fiberglass & More
- Sold As A Set
- Each character is 3-inches tall.
- Pack comes with 4 sets of A-Z or 0-9.
- Vinyl product using lead-free inks.
- Uses strong, waterproof adhesive.
- Scratch and fade resistant.
With this product, you attach each character by itself. Although they do make decals as well. There is no backing transfer so it might be hard to keep them straight. No worries on that one, just place a piece of masking tape where you want to put them. This should ensure you place them level.
Another positive aspect to having a pack of 4; if one letter starts to peel or gets damaged, you have spares for replacements.
They also have many different designs to the font than what we have shown in our image.
Of course, if you know an artist, they can paint the name on your boat for you. It might seem a much more personal and individual touch. Decals will be the cheaper option and, done correctly, they can look great and last for years. Even if they need replacing after a few years, they’re inexpensive enough to replace and easy to attach.
- Registration kit for boats and power watercraft vehicles;...
- Block font with carbon fiber texturing, top-to-bottom color...
- Made from 100 percent lead free inks and vinyl; waterproof...
- UV coated to protect from fading; fuel and scratch resistant
- 3-inch registration stickers meet USCG requirements when...
So, with the decals sorted, all you have to do now is decide on the name for your boat!