The best boat name I ever saw was on the transom of a 50-or-so-foot fishing boat in a high-end marina. The name was laugh-out-loud funny, memorable enough that it’s been stuck in my brain for more than a decade, and brutally honest to the point that it dangled on the edge of being a family secret over-share—that boat name was Lucky Sperm.

Coming up with a great, original boat name is kind of like finding a color to paint your house that nobody else in the neighborhood already snagged. There’s a lot of competition that you simply can’t escape, a lot of other boats on the docks that already have some of the best names gracing their sterns. To get you started, here are five tips to help get you started on finding the right boat name.

Naming a Boat: Rules to Follow

  1. Decide on a theme. Do you prefer names that are humorous, romantic, water-based, or very personal?

  2. Search the web for your chosen theme plus your boat type (eg. "funny pontoon boat name"). You'll be amazed at what you'll find.

  3. Write down any names that sound particularly "right". Then read them out loud. Sometimes a name that looks good onscreen or on paper won't sound right when spoken.

  4. Come up with a top five list, and play around a bit with any words that might be used in a different way. Doggonit might become Dog on It.

  5. Personalize it. Instead of Mom's Mink, how about "Mandy's Mink"? The poetic Rendezvous could become Rhonda-vous. Tying it to something specific will help prevent seeing the same name on too many other boats.

boat names

What will you name your boat? The options are endless...

Unique Boat Names

One of the best ways to start thinking about great boat names is by using a process of elimination. BoatUS puts out an annual list of the most popular boat names, showing the monikers that a lot of owners have chosen since 1992. Back then, there were a ton of Ospreys and Liquid Assets on the water, while more recently, Serenity and Freedom have topped the list.

A look through the lists from the past decade and a half will tell you which boat names to avoid if you want to have any originality whatsoever out on the water. Spoiler alert: Happy Ours, Island Time and Seas the Day have already reached the level of overused clichés.

Once you’ve crossed all the overused boat names off your list, it’s time to think about what you actually think is important in a boat name. Choose one word or sentiment that matters most, and then build the boat name around it.

For instance, are you hoping to honor a beloved family member or friend? If yes, then the tried-and-true standby is the boat name Miss Whoever—but that naming convention can feel a bit overused. Try thinking about what was important to the person you’re hoping to honor. If your mother’s name was Ginger and she loved to bake, then instead of Miss Ginger, throw in a little galley-style flavor: try the boat name Ginger Spice. If your father’s name was Harry and he was a carpenter, then think about naming your bluewater battlewagon Harry’s Hammer.

The same goes for sentiments of fun out on the water. Some editor friends of mine wanted the word, well, word in their boat name, because they used words all day long to pay for the darn boat in the first place. They batted around popular phrases that included word, and ultimately came up with the boat name Wordplay. Nice.

Similarly, a trick you can use for finding a boat name based on any word is typing “idioms with word” into your search engine. Let’s say you’re a police officer whose job is to write out tickets all day. Searching for “idioms with ticket” would bring up boat name ideas such as Ticket to Ride and Golden Ticket. Or, maybe you’re an accountant who uses numbers all day. Searching for “idioms with numbers” will get you to boat name ideas along the lines of Hot Number and Force of Numbers.

don't choose no boat name like this owner did.

Don't take the easy way out and name her "No Name" like this owner did.

Fishing Boat Names

Fishing boat names of course can be chosen using the tips and tricks above, with an added dash of machismo. It’s no secret that the raunchiest of boat names tend to be aboard go-fast and fishing boats, probably because they’re where guys typically get together to hang out away from their wives and kids.

If you’re thinking along those lines for your fishing boat name, then trust me: We’ve all seen Nauti Boy and Aquaholic out there on the water. They were funny the first time. Aim a little higher on the originality scale, even if you want to go down and dirty with the sentiment.

The same goes for fishing clichés. Sorry to be the one to tell you, but Reel Time, Knot Working and Fish Tales have also been done to death. Maybe think about your favorite species of fish instead. For instance, do you love chasing monster marlin? Then how about a fishing boat name along the lines of True Blue or Blue Streak? Prefer to hunt snapper? Then maybe think about Red Alert or Red Hot Mama.

In the end, the best boat names reflect your personality, without overwhelming or contradicting the boat's personality. If you are looking for a funny boat name, read Funny Boat Names, and be sure to read Why Giving Your Boat a Good Name is Everything: Tips for Naming Your Boat. Have fun naming your new ride, and we'll see you and Beer Thirty on the water very soon.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in March 2014 and updated in February 2019. This piece was first written by Carol Cronin, and then later refreshed by Kim Kavin.

Written by: Kim Kavin
Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who specializes in marine travel. She is the author of 10 books including Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Vacations, and is editor of the online yacht vacation magazine