You’ve just bought a boat—congratulations! Many people dream of owning their own boat. Whether it’s a small fishing boat or a larger yacht you can host parties on, there’s nothing quite like having your own personal boat and the freedom that comes with it. However, before you can shove off and head out onto the water, there’s one major decision you have to make: you’ve got to name your boat and design your custom decals! Well, you don’t legally have to name it if it’s a personal recreation vehicle—it’s not a requirement to register your boat. However, nearly everyone who owns a boat gives her (boats are usually referred to in the feminine) a name. Commercial vessels must have a name.

There are many possibilities out there for boat names, of course, which can be a problem. You may have so many possible names that you just can’t pick. That’s where we can help. We’ve put together some of the rules surrounding boat names and some tips to assist you in selecting the right name for your boat. Once you’ve got a name picked out, the team here at TNT Signs can work with you to create the perfect boat decals. These decals will make certain everyone knows the name of your boat and can clearly see its registration number. 


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Boat Name Rules To Know Before Ordering Custom Decals

The U.S. Coast Guard has a few regulations surrounding boat names, even if they’re not commercial vehicles. First of all, you can’t name your boat anything that’s similar to emergency words used at sea. For example, you can’t use the name May Day since that’s a common signal to indicate distress. You won’t be able to sail the S.S. Man Overboard, either. This is just to avoid confusion and avoid false alarms. Likewise, you can’t name your boat anything obscene or use profane language. Don’t try to use phonetic spelling to get a bad word into your boat name, either—there are rules against that, too. 

Boat names and the custom decals also have to be less than 33 characters long. Note that you can use numbers as well as letters, though some special characters may not be allowed. Boat names do not have to be unique, so don’t worry about using a name someone else has already used. Your boat’s registration number is unique, so that will clear up any confusion. 

Other than these rules, there aren’t really any limits to what you can use for a boat name. However, we do have a few tips that will help you pick the best boat name.


The Custom Decals and Name Should Be Personal

Most people select a name for their boat that they have some kind of personal connection to. Some name them after a parent, grandparent, or other relative. Others use the name of a beloved pet. Some people might use the name of a famous ship or fictional vessel from their favorite TV show, movie, or book. Another option is to use a pun that relates to your job or one of your hobbies. A musician might call their boat the High Sea, for example. You want to have some kind of personal connection to the name you choose.

A boat out of water having it's decals applied and dry

Look at Lists of Traditional Boat Names

A quick internet search will give you pages and pages of traditional boat names. Many of these names are connected to mythology or history. Since duplicate names are okay, you can pick one of these names if one of them calls to you. Even if you don’t plan on using a traditional name, reading through a few lists might help give you inspiration. At the very least, you’ll have an idea of what type of boat names you don’t want to use, and that can help narrow down your options.


Go for Something Short and Sweet

Often, shorter names are better than long, complicated ones. While 33 characters is a good amount, you don’t have to use the entire limit. Sometimes, a short name has more punch to it and will be easier for others to remember. You also don’t have to worry as much about space for the name decals or about the name being misspelled. 

That’s not to say that you should avoid a longer name if you find one that you love. A longer pun may perfectly capture your personality and get the reaction you want from people. Again, you want to go with a name that has meaning to you. Sometimes, that’s going to be a shorter name. Other times, you might need to use several dozen characters. 


Does the Name fit the Boat?

If you have a fishing boat, a name like The Flash or Super Sonic Sue may not exactly fit. Those are names that might be perfect for a high-performance boat designed for cruising or racing. The name you select should reflect the boat’s look and feel. 



Names Not to Use

While there are no rules about not using certain names, there are traditions and superstitions around some. Naming your boat after a force of nature, for example, is often seen as tempting fate or challenging Mother Nature herself. Many people will avoid names such as Hurricane, Typhoon, or Gale because of this. Another superstition says to avoid naming your boat or using any type of custom decals concerning any type of vessel that was lost at sea. Titanic, for example, may be considered something of a cursed name. There may be names you want to avoid due to personal reasons or other superstitions. Some people avoid using the number thirteen because it’s seen as unlucky. 


Don’t Rush into It

Traditionally, a ship was christened with its name before its first voyage. However, that tradition typically applies to large naval vessels. It’s perfectly fine to take your boat out for a test drive without naming it first. If you can’t decide on a name, you shouldn’t let that stop you from enjoying your boat. As long as you have the registration number decals in the correct place on the side of the boat, it’s legal to take out on the water. Go have fun, then add the boat’s name later once you’ve decided on it.


Man at sea on his sail boat


How Do You Add a Boat’s Name?

Once you’ve picked a name, you need to add it to the side or back of the boat. This is where TNT Signs can help you. We can create vinyl decals with your boat’s name. These custom decals can include graphics or color if you want, though you should try to keep the design fairly simple so it can be read from far away. There are specific rules for the fonts and size of your boat’s registration number. We can create those vinyl custom decals, too, but keep in mind that they have to meet regulations. The registration must be on the forward side of the boat, and the letters have to be three inches high. They also have to be in a color that makes them stand out from the hull. You may want to use the same color for your boat name, though you don’t have to.

After you have installed the name on your boat, you may want to hold a christening ceremony. You may have seen these ceremonies in movies or TV shows. They usually entail smashing a bottle of champagne or other drink across the front of the ship. However, this does present a hazard—it’s very possible to get cut from the glass or even get glass shards in your eye. Champagne bottles are made from fairly thick glass, so it can be hard to smash them. There’s also the risk to local sea life. Shards of glass can cause fish and other animals to get cut. 


Avoiding These Risks

To avoid these risks, most people simply pour a small amount of their chosen beverage over the bow of the boat. The rest is poured into glasses for those in attendance to use in a toast. This also means you don’t waste a bottle of expensive champagne! Once you’ve toasted to the ship and its new name, you’ll want to take her out for her maiden voyage under the new name. Some people also include placing a leafy branch on board the ship during the ceremony. This branch represents land and is said to ensure that your boat will always bring you back home safely.


Let TNT Signs Help You Create the Perfect Boat Decal Today

For some, a boat isn’t whole until it has a name. Once you’ve decided on what to call your fine vessel, you need a custom decal that will make her stand out. Here at TNT Signs, we use high-quality vinyl and ink that will last for quite some time. You won’t have to worry about the ink fading from the bright sunlight or getting damaged from the water. Whether you have a short, punchy name or have crafted the perfect pun for your boat, we’re here to create an amazing decal that will make your boat pop. Reach out to TNT Signs today to learn more about the printing process and more.