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Renaming a Boat the Proper Way

If you're buying a boat with a name that doesn't suit you or you find that the name of your current boat no longer rings true, it’s probably time to think about renaming your boat. If the thought of that sends a chill down your spine, fear not! 

Though many believe that renaming a boat will anger Poseidon and cause all manner of calamities to ensue, there are times when it's simply impossible to avoid making a change. Since every vessel name is written in Poseidon’s Ledger of the Deep, you will first have to take steps to permanently remove your boat’s name from the ledger. And that’s where our “Renaming a Boat” guide comes in handy, describing exactly what you need to do to rename your so you can be sure you won’t regret it.



Can You Rename a Boat?

Renaming your boat is certainly feasible as long as you can find a good name for the vessel. It’s true that experienced boaters may give you the side-eye unless you can assure them you've adhered to several critical, time-honored traditions associated with renaming a boat. And with good reason, because these traditions aren't just for show.

There are many reasons why boaters choose to rename their vessels. One that’s not unusual is that some owners are struck by what a good idea it is to name your boat after your spouse as Forrest Gump did with the shrimping boat he bought. Later, if they find themselves divorced, the name might no longer have the same sentimental value. Whatever the reason, the answer is that yes, you can rename your boat—just be sure to follow the right steps. 


Is Renaming a Boat Bad Luck?

Renaming a boat is only bad luck when you do it the wrong way. If you're even somewhat superstitious, you probably don’t want to do anything, anyway, that would court bad luck. But you can do it without a problem if you’re ready to put in some work to scrub the old name from Poseidon's memory by erasing it from the Ledger of the Deep. Simply painting over the old name is way too easy, and ineffective.

You must remove everything on the boat that bears the old name, or even has an inference of the name. Check everything! Of course that includes boat records, logbooks, and hull graphics, but it also includes sail bags, boat bags, life rings, coasters, foul weather jackets, old t-shirts, even floating foam keychains. And don’t overlook digital references; we know of some owners who have wiped their hard drives clean just to be on the safe side. 

If you bought your boat from someone else, be sure to look for any mention of the old owner's name in the boat's documentation. These references should be removed as well. If you don't want to get rid of records and logbooks entirely, white-out is a highly effective solution. 

One other important point. Don’t make the mistake of taking an item onto your boat that shows the new name before you've completed the renaming ritual below. Otherwise, you are likely to starrt having issues with the vessel. 


How to Rename a Boat

The most important aspect of renaming a boat is identifying a good name for it. In our guide What Is a Good Boat Name?, we have selected 150 name ideas for your boat. The renaming ritual is a somewhat laborious process, which is why you don't want to do it twice simply because you made a bad choice the first time around. There are several principles to naming a boat to keep in mind. 

First, don't rename your boat the Black Pearl. It's a great name but only a viable solution if you bear a striking resemblance to Captain Jack Sparrow. 

Second, while many boaters choose classic names, a select few are eligible to use humor. Do you enjoy word play, coming up with new puns at the drop of a hat, and always laughing at your own jokes? Then you qualify for a humorous name choice—just make sure you’ll still like it in six months. Many modern boats are emblazoned with humorous names but, honestly, some are better than others:  


  • The Codfather
  • No Knotsense
  • Bad to the Bow
  • Reality Bites
  • A Wave from it All


Third, fictional names can offer a classier renaming solution. Just make sure that you’ve got a good story about what your name is best or you may get tired of telling your guests why this was the perfect name for your boat:


  • Oliver Twist
  • Orient Express
  • La Boheme
  • Andromeda
  • Galactica


Fourth, classic names are pretty safe to use except that nobody will accuse you of being a creative thinker. And the boats near you in the marina may have the exact same name, especially if you choose names like these: 


  • Amazing Grace
  • Osprey
  • Carpe Diem
  • Serenity
  • Andiamo


Finally, you can also take a chance and choose to make a reference to a family member, your profession, or your favorite hobby. But please make sure you’re committed before you take the big step.


jama boat name


Renaming a Boat Ritual

Once you've removed every single reference to the boat's previous name, create a metal tag that bears the boat’s old name. However, the name must be written in water-soluble ink to prepare for the ritual to follow. Make sure you bring with you a valuable bottle of wine or champagne. Keep in mind this ritual doesn't need to be done on your own. Invite along some friends or family members. 


Step 1: Start the purging ceremony

This is the first step of the ritual, during which you'll be speaking directly with Poseidon, god of the sea. The recitation doesn't need to be word for word what it was centuries ago. What’s important is that you humbly implore Poseidon to expunge the previous boat name from their recollection and records for the remainder of time. 

You'll then offer up the metal plate with the old name to be purged entirely from the sea. The metal tag should be dropped directly over the bow and into the water, after which you'll need to pour half of your wine or champagne into the surrounding waters. Begin from the east and end to the west. A small amount should then be shared with your friends at the end of the ritual. If you accidentally skip this last step, you'll need to start the process over again.


Step 2: Start the renaming ceremony

The hard part of this ritual is over. It's now time to start the renaming portion of the ceremony, which is only possible once you've struck the previous name from the records. Speak with Poseidon again, asking that the new name for your seaworthy vessel be placed into their recollection and records. Implore them to safeguard your boat and guarantee rapid passage while you're at sea. 

At this time, you'll need to offer up more of the wine or champagne. Make sure to save a glass for yourself and your friends to share once all of this is over. You could even bring an additional bottle with you for the occasion. When pouring the wine or champagne into the water, pur from west to east in this instance.


Step 3: Appease the gods who control the winds

Before you can bring the ceremony to a conclusion, you must appease the gods who control the winds and keep the seas calm. Otherwise, you're liable to experience strong headwinds and dangerous conditions whenever you take your boat out. You should first address all four rulers of these winds by asking that they grant your vessel the pleasures and benefits of their bounty and ensure a gentle voyage. You'll then need to speak with each god individually. 

When facing north, toss some wine or champagne to the north while asking Great Boreas for permission to sail in that direction without encountering their cold breath. Turn to the west before readying your champagne once again. Recite similar words and ask that Great Zephyrus spare you from their wild breath. 

Face east next and speak to Great Eurus, the ruler who has dominion over the east wind. Ask that they spare you from their mighty breath during your voyages. Next, turn south and pour a small amount of wine or champagne into the sea. Ask Great Notos for permission to travel south without experiencing their scalding breath. 


Step 4: Celebrate with a bottle of wine or champagne

If you have any wine or champagne left in the bottle, celebrate the conclusion of this ceremony with your friends or family. You may now take an item that has your boat's new name onto the vessel. If you were unable to avoid taking this item onto your vessel before the ceremony came to an end, it's essential that you keep it covered until this final step. While each of these four steps is highly superstitious and might not match your personality, it’s silly to take the chance that you’ll be forced to spend much time powering or sailing against the wind. 

Once the ritual is officially over, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. The easiest way to forgo this ceremony altogether is by making sure that your boat is given a proper name the first time. However, things don't always go according to plan. When a renaming is necessary, at least you can have fun with your friends.



Written By: Toi Williams

Toi grew up in coastal New England, Her parents had a second home on Newfound Lake, in New Hampshire. Because of this, Toi was able to enjoy boating at sea as well as in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Today, she regularly wakeboards and waterskis on her Malibu wake surfing boat. She also sailed at sea in Maine, and taken many trips to the Isles of Shoals.

More from: Toi Williams

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