The Nuts and Bolts of Naming Your Boat

You’re finally ready to name (or rename) your boat. You’ve been combing through boat name databases for days, and you finally found a boat name that fit your boat’s vibe and your personality. Now, you need to place that name on the boat’s hull.

Comply with Documentation Rules

If you have a Coast Guard-documented vessel, you must first comply with the agency’s naming regulations. Then, you can decide whether to add some colorful boat graphics.

The United States Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center has established boat naming requirements for recreational and commercial vessels. Vessel owners can decide how they’ll apply the name to their boat.

Determine Whether the Boat Name Fits

When you selected your boat name, you probably didn’t think about its length. Now that you’re ready to install the name, however, that variable becomes more important.

Let’s say you selected a very long boat name such as these names from the SkyAboveUs list:

  • Inversion of the Curve
  • Knight of the Caribbean
  • The First Twenty Million

If you have a smaller sailboat or powerboat, and you cram those (or similar-length names) on the transom, the letters may be almost unreadable.

If you won’t budge on the boat name, switch to Plan B: install the name on both sides of the boat’s hull. However, this method will incur double the expense and take additional time.

Choose Your Boat Name Graphics Source

You have three options for applying the boat name to your vessel. One method is inexpensive, but doesn’t offer any room for creativity. The second method is pricier, but allows you to select your boat name style. The third method may cost more, but it’s a time-honored way to honor your special boat name.

Stick-on Letters

In this no-frills approach, buy your boat letters from the local hardware store. To put them on correctly, you’ll need a stable dinghy and a good sense of balance.

One-piece Custom Graphics

For a boat name with more pizzazz, select a one-piece stick-on boat name from a national marine retailer or your local sign shop. You’ll specify the style, font, and dimensions for this computer-generated graphic.

To install the boat name, use that stable dinghy again. Note that you only get one shot at the name installation, so pick your weather conditions and mindset.

Traditional Painted Boat Name

If you’re a boating traditionalist, ask an accomplished artist to hand-paint your boat name onto the vessel’s hull. In Annapolis, Maryland, artist Cindy Fletcher Holden has been painting names on all types of boats for over 30 years.

Fletcher Holden says many of her customers have given considerable thought to naming their beloved boat. She reflects that boat name painting is somewhat of a lost art, and she’s happy to keep it going.

Now that you’ve chosen your special boat name, you’d like other boaters to take a “hands off” approach. That’s where Boat Name Registry (BNR) can help.

If you’re a BNR member, they’ll take steps to protect your special boat name in your home port. Learn about BNR membership here. We’ll see you on the water!



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