One man's Wet Dream (a top 10 name 1993-1997!) is another's definition of distaste.
Given that you can't please 'em all, "it's best to go with your heart," said Scott Croft, of the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) (boatus.com).
"Usually the first or second idea that comes to you is best," he said, adding that the process is difficult enough without soliciting a second opinion. "It's a lot like naming a kid - maybe harder."
Children, after all, don't (usually) walk around with a name emblazoned on their backsides.
Croft, keeper of BoatUS' annual list of most popular epithets (mined from a database of more than 8,500 vessels), knows firsthand the challenges of naming a boat. He's done it twice.
"A boat name is a very defining thing," Croft said. "And how do you define yourself? Do you pick your occupation? Your hobby? Your spouse? Your child? Do you use word play to show you're witty?"
For his first boat, he went with a favorite subject - U.S. history - and selected "Constitution," inspired by the famed Boston-based Naval battleship and timing (he bought it on July 4). He anguished a bit more naming the second one, when he had a wife and a son. (He chose his offspring: Aiden R.)
"Family guys who want to give it a loved one's name seem to struggle the most," said Croft, who likes to query members for their naming stories. (His favorite: a cancer survivor's sailboat, "Second Wind.") "Ultimately, there's no bad decision, though I wouldn't recommend naming a boat after a girlfriend unless you're really sure she'll be around for a while."
Of course, vinyl lettering makes it much easier to erase this blunder in case of a breakup.
Other naming trends Croft has detected:
- Current events and pop culture impact boat names: Patriotic names spiked in late 2001 and 2002, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "Bailout" was a favorite in 2008. "Black Pearl" rose in popularity with each release in Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.
- Boaters like to poke fun of themselves — specifically their decision to shell out big bucks for their favorite pastime. "College Fund," "A-Loan-Again," and "Liquid Asset" all speak to this tendency.
- Boaters also like to have fun. See: "Aquaholic", "Party Hardy," "The Salt Shaker." If you're leaning this way, just be aware that boats with boozy names are the maritime equivalent of red sports cars.
- Nautical puns are evergreen. "Seas the Day," "Anchor Management" and "Hydrotherapy" have dominated for decades. Croft noted that the names with the strongest staying power also tend to be family friendly. "The racy puns are usually reserved for single guys and gals—and they change when they settle down," he said.
- Brevity rules. Most boat names are one or two words. Why? "It looks sleek on the back of the boat," Croft said. "Plus, if you ever have to spell it over the radio, you don't want something long and complicated."
Think your boat has a clever moniker? Great backstory? Share it with us.