Someone asked me recently whether my Eddyline kayak was a Skylark or a Dulcinea. I explained that “Skylark” was the model of the kayak and “Dulcinea” was her name. The response was: “You NAME you boats ?!?” Well, of course. I name all my boats! And there are several reasons why I do so.
First, since I have four kayaks and two canoes, it’s a lot easier to say, “I think I’ll take Roci out this weekend” than it is to say “I think I’ll take out my Delta 15.5 Expedition kayak out this weekend.”
Second, boats have personalities, just like many other things do. They are a wonderful combination of materials, design, experiences, and modifications that make each one unique. We name our kids, dogs and cats. We give many of our friends nick names based on our experiences with them. Some people even name their homes, cars and guitars. So why not your boat?
Third, there is a long tradition of naming boats. Apparently the Egyptians were the first to name their boats, in a ceremony invoking their gods for fair weather and favorable fishing. I’m sure you can think of many iconic names like the Titanic, the Queen Mary, the Argos, the Mayflower, the Constitution, the Maine, the Lexington, the Bounty, the Santa Maria. They have entered history and evoke memories and feelings of eras gone by. By naming your boat you become a part of a long tradition.
Fourth, safety. Vessels documented by the USCG (commercial vessels and large power boats and sailboats) must be named. In an emergency, you need to be able to effectively relay your boat’s name to the Coast Guard and you don’t want any confusion. Why does the same not apply to kayaks and canoes that usually do not have to be registered?
Fifth, security. Scraping off or painting over all the identifying names and stickers may be more trouble than some thieves are willing to take. Stealing a relatively plain boat makes more sense than one with several identifying marks.
Sixth, behaviorists have found giving human traits to inanimate objects can inspire more responsible, attentive ownership. It has been shown statistically that power boat owners who name their boats take better care of them. Giving something a name makes it seem more person-like than just a number. And if it moves, it seems even more like an active, living thing that really deserves a name.
Seventh, within the traditions of the sea it is bad luck NOT to name your boat. Legend has it that an unnamed boat will not be able to find her way back to port. So if you want to get home for dinner, you better name her! Legend also has it that the name of every ship that exists or has ever existed is written in a tome called the “Ledger of the Deep” and is therefore known to Neptune, god of the deep. And Neptune can thus keep an eye out for the safety of the boat and crew. So, if you want Neptune’s help on your voyages, you better come up with a name.
Eighth, I like to get reflective name decals for my boats. This makes them most visible in low light situations as well as identifying it.
Ninth, it’s fun! And the champagne naming ceremony can be even more fun!