Posted by: Tom K.
November 17, 2011

Tom K.

It’s All in a Name

My friend has a sailboat named “Aphrodite.”  I couldn’t exactly remember the significance of the Greek goddess (it’s been a while since I was in high school), and when I looked her up it said she symbolizes love, beauty and pleasure. Aphrodite was born out of sea foam, and hers is the absolutely perfect name for the sleek sailboat that cuts through the waves and brings her crew joy in beautiful surroundings.

Buying a boat, any kind of boat, is a big event, so naming her should be significant, too.  Sometimes names reflect a captain’s courage. Sometimes they’re more oriented to the feeling that one gets on the water.  Boat names can be purposeful or they can be a fun,  play-on-words.  “Reel Time” spelled that way is a good name for a fishing boat, while “Serenity” is well-suited to a sailboat heading to sea with only the wind luffing in her sails. 

My experience has been that boats under 20-feet in length do not get named.  I have heard that the reason for not naming smaller boats is that they have historically been tender boats, crafts that transport landlubbers to their “real” vessels. It’s only been in recent decades that the under 20-foot boats have grown in popularity for both fishing as well as recreational boating.  Should you not name a small boat?  To that I say balderdash!

Naming boats is part of the experience of owning a boat.  Whether your handle is “Blue Moon” which refers to two full moons in the same month or “Island Bound” which signifies a direction, I believe that all boats should be named.  This winter, give some thought to a creative name for your craft.  Just be careful about naming your boat “On the Rocks.”

Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New  England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at or at

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