What's a good name for a boat?

Some owners put as much time into naming their boats as they do their children and pets, so a boat's name can tell you a lot about its owner. Hobbies, favorite songs, geographical locations or personality traits -- all are good sources for boat names.

While Serenity, Kindred Spirit and Summer Wind are very popular names, they say more about the feeling of being on the water than about the people who own the boat.

Do you think the owners of Did Knot Did Two fight a lot, or are they just careful about tying up their boat? The owner of a fishing boat named Just One More probably hates to call it a day.

What does the name Kids Tuition tell you? Obsession? Did the owner of Pier Pressure feel obligated to get a bigger boat to keep up with the others at the marina? How do you think the captain of White Knuckles feels when a storm is brewing?

People often like to make a humorous play on words. For example, the word "paradox" means a statement that seems inconsistent. Boaters will tweak such words to tell you a bit about their pets or work with names such as Pair-a-dachs (two dachshunds onboard) or Par-a-docs (two doctors).

Superstition often plays a role in the selection of a boat's name. Feminine names are thought to bring good luck. Long ago, sailors thought it was unlucky to have a boat name with six letters. Maybe that's why there was a mutiny on the Bounty. A name with seven letters was said to be lucky, but that obviously didn't hold true for the Titanic.

Even little boats can have names. One paddler calls her long yellow kayak The Banana. A large pleasure boat usually will be trailed by a little boat called a dinghy, used by passengers to get into shallow waters. Often, the name on the dinghy will be a natural fit for the main boat: Thunder and Lightning, for example, or Ketchup and Mustard.

It's also important that your boat's name is easily understood, because in an emergency that's how you identify yourself on a radio call to the Coast Guard or harbor patrol. "This is Pelican . . . over" is a bit easier to understand than "This is Kubadakibada." (Yes, that one's real.)

-- Ann Cameron Siegal