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It’s All in a Name – The Boat’s Name
Insight Into a Boat’s Owner Revealed through the Name of the Boat

The following article by Jim Kalvin was published in the August 2009 issue of “Waves.”

What’s in a BOAT name?

One of the reasons the boating community is so appealing to me is that you get to see, and share, the inner side of the personality profile without actually having to get up close. It comes out in the type of boats people own, the past-time that they pursue, the areas in which they operate as well as the way that they operate. And…the boat names are a dead give-away into the minds of the owners with few exceptions.

One of my all-time favorites is a simple one, and I laughed out loud the first time I saw Catfish Magnet on the trailer heading for the Bayview Park ramp. I knew right away that the owner liked to fish, was probably not very good at it, and had the type of personality that allowed himself to see the humor of his conundrum. That was years ago, and I haven’t seen the name in a long time. Maybe he got better at his hobby and no longer needed to announce to the world that he needed more experience.

One of the most memorable boat names I’ve run across was a 12-meter Trojan that was bought by two couples – 50/50 share – and the name was 4 Ever Friends. The reason the name sticks in my mind is because they gave me so many reasons to remember it. They were both clients of mine beforehand, each couple owning their own boat. They had decided to sell their respective vessels and go partners on one unit – splitting the expense of owning one boat instead of each of them maintaining one of their own. Because, “heck – one couple never leaves the dock without the other – makes sense, right?”

Well, I guess so, sort of.

Our first bit of business with this particular vessel was to make two separate files – one for each couple, because they were going to split expenses right down the middle. With both of them sitting in front of my desk, it was made clear to me that if one guy wanted service done that the other guy didn’t want done, the first guy would pay for the service on his own – with no financial burden to the second guy. Like, when the first guy wanted a new loran installed – and the second guy didn’t.

First Guy bought the loran, and paid for the installation. He called me a month later to ask if I could tell whether or not Second Guy was using the loran when First Guy wasn’t on the boat. In that day, the technology of the equipment was not able to show usage histories – and since he bought such a cheap unit – the answer was “no”.

“Why do you need to know that?” I asked.

“Because he didn’t pay for it, and I don’t want him to use it!” was the reply

Did I mention, yet, that both of these guys were retired executives?

Short version of a long story is that Second Guy had been using the loran, and proudly admitted it saying that anything on the boat belonged half to him whether or not he had wanted it installed, and he had the right to use same. First Guy wanted to be reimbursed for half the unit, or he was going to take the loran off of the boat when he wasn’t on board. Then the argument ensued about the unsightly bracket and the holes that had been drilled in the console, etc., ad-nauseum. Soon the boat developed a serious problem (unrelated to the loran installation), and luckily, it was in a field of study that I did not participate in, and the job of financial referee went to some other fortunate individual.

I never saw the boat on the water again. Presumably, either the boat was sold over the bill-sharing financial discrepancies, or the name was changed to something like Sorry I Ever Met You.

Back to the more light-hearted names, I recall I Can’t Afford This, which referred to the spouse’s opinion of the cost of the boat. Then, there was Lost It, which is what one client’s wife said he had done when she found out that he bought the boat. Both guys were, I presume, making light of their solo decision to utilize household finances for the acquisition of the vessel in question.

I’ve also seen women at the helm of vessels named Don’t Tell Him, Girl’s Day Out, and Get Me Some.

Contractors give their occupation away when they name their vessels Job Site, Bid Meeting, Job Trailer, or Walk –Through. There is a method to their madness, however, which is that when someone calls or comes by the office looking for them during working hours, their administrative assistants can honestly say, “He’s on a walk-through for the balance of the day, and can’t be reached – can I take a message?”

Business owners do the same thing with names like Branch Office, Staff Meeting, or Interview.

Then there was another client who named his new boat Mirabele. I asked him if that was his wife’s name. In his smooth South American accent, he said, “No – that is the name of my village.” A neighbor of his, who happened to be standing on the dock at the time, asked why he didn’t name the boat after his wife. Again, his voice thick with a Latino flavor, he said, “Becuss – in my country – a man does not change his village.”

I remember my Dad’s first boat in Miami. It was an old wooden boat with a prehistoric Evinrude, and it leaked like a sieve. The compact 12-volt bilge pumps that we have today had yet to be invented, so my older brother and I got to take turns with the old “slush-pump” style manual pump. I remember telling Dad one day that my arm hurt, and I couldn’t “do the pump anymore.” As I recall, he was very understanding, and handed me an empty coffee can to bail with. The name of the boat was Ethmos – which was a Greek word for “sieve” – a very fitting moniker. Being 4 years old at the time, I thought it had been named after one of the Three Musketeers.

Moving right along, my Buddy in Naples has a beautiful 65’ Hatteras Sportfish which burns a lot of fuel - as most 65’ sportfishing vessels will. After a couple of significant fuel stops, his son came up with the name for the boat, and she was christened Buy-o Diesel.

Then, there are those names that tell of the life-station that the owner might be enjoying at the time. Names like Kid’s Inheritance, Sorry Kids, Empty Nest Syndrome, and Our Turn are not uncommon. I also saw one boat that was named “No More Tuition.”

Some monikers that indicate an owner who might be in the middle of a mid-life crisis include, Mid-Life Crisis, Day-Vorced, Terminally Single, Bucket List, or Born-Again Bachelor. These are usually go-fast boats with a lot of unnecessary horse-power, killer stereos, and brightly colored graphics.

I saw once such boat, full of women having way too much fun, and the colorful graphics proudly announced that this vessel was named Alimony.

And some of the boats seem to have named themselves. One such vessel in Naples had two scruffy dogs on the bow and an owner in a natty old sailor’s hat and baggy shorts at the helm with a cigar hanging from his face. He was wearing an ancient fish-print shirt, and there were fishing poles dangling from every corner of the vessel. A bar-b-que grill was protruding from a rod-holder near the bow, and the skipper was using his “local knowledge” to navigate outside of the channel (at slow speed mind you). The name on the boat? Local Color.

Then there was the dramatically under-powered vessel I saw literally crawling across the gulf named Island Time. Couldn’t have been more fitting!

Some vessels are given more ethereal names – like Gypsy Spirit, Halcyon, Nirvana, Exta-Sea, Wind Quest, or Sea Spirit. Something that has a deeper meaning than a humorous or glib nickname.

Then, we have what I call the “addiction” names, whereby the owner is announcing that the vessel is not an option. Like Aqua-holic, Her or the Boat (I guess you know which way he went!), Addiction, or Myonly Vice, which I thought was a clever play on words.

Those kind of go hand in hand with the “medicine” names, meaning that the boats make the owner feel better or take away the pain or aggravation of the daily grind. They include Mylanta, Nerve Pill, Double Shot, Morphine Drip, Down Time, Librium, or Therapy.

On the opposite side of that coin, there are those that express the owner’s seeming displeasure of owning their boat, even if in jest. The Damn Boat, Maintenance Nightmare, and Money Hole are but a few of those.

Just by reading the names listed above, and seeing the vessels they were attached to, one can read into the mind of the skipper to an extent. One thing is sure - the creativity flows when it comes to the feelings that each skipper has for his or her craft. Next time you’re out, take a closer look, and see how the names match the boat, and one at the helm.

Jim Kalvin is a native Floridian and a career mariner with 25 years in the Marine industry in Southwest Florida. He has been a contributing editor for Scripps-Howard, Southern Boating Magazine, and Marine Business Journal. He is currently the General Manager of Diversified Yacht Services, Inc.

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