Re-naming your canal boat
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Tue Aug 29, 2023 at 11:36am

Why are boats named?

There are many reasons why boats are named, but they are mainly named for identification and communication purposes. They are also often named for sentimental, traditional, and even superstitious reasons as well. Naming a boat is just as much a part of owning a boat as it has ever been, and boat naming has become such a tradition that it’s hard to find a boat that does not have a name!

Narrowboating becomes a way of life for a lot of people, and that way of life can become very sentimental to them. So that their first boat becomes almost like their first love in a way, and keeping the name and legacy alive will always be a part of their boat’s name for some. Often, boaters name their boat after a child of theirs, or after the name of a loved one who might have passed away. Keeping the memory of that person alive. Some even name their boat after other important relationships or great times that they have had in their life, such as a special pet, or a special place they've been to and wish to remember.

 Boat names are often an insight into the owners’ dreams, ambitions, and interests. They can be a biographical note from a past life they’ve lived, or a snapshot of the lives they are now living, or hope to live on the canals. Boat names are often very private or personal thoughts, spelled out in paint on the outside of their boat in Gothic, Italic or folksy type of hand writing, shown for all to see.

Would you change your boat name?

So what happens if you find your dream canal boat, but you just hate the name? Well, as long as you are not superstitious, you can change the name quite easily. It is said by some that it is unlucky to change a boat's name whilst the boat is in the water. So a great way around this is to change the name whilst you are having the boat out for blacking or other repairs that require the boat to be out of the water. Some people go as far as having a re-naming ceremony. Is this something you have done?

What to call your boat

Another popular thread of naming themes is celebration of either a new life begun or an old life escaped. Some boat names we've come across under this theme are 'Water Under The Bridge', 'Dunwirkin', 'Done Bothering', 'Colour of Magic', 'Third Time Lucky','Great Escape', 'New Direction', 'Alternative Means Of Escape', 'Dream Catcher', 'Over the Rainbow', T'ranquility', 'Slow N Easy' and 'Our Time'. Other boaters use names that are amusing, rude, or based on puns or innuendos's, amusing boat names we've come across are; 'Credit Limit', 'Comfortably Numb', 'Knot So Fast', 'Crocodile Smiles', 'Old Age Traveller' and Y'arip Yaroo' to name just a few! Some use a different language such as Welsh and we once had a boat in for sale called 'Hafan' which in Welsh means 'gift of God' or it could be; H for Hopeful, A for Aquaintance, F for fickle, A for adventure, N for narrator! We've seen the name 'La Boheme' which is an Opera by Puccini (for those who don't know)  'Lady in Red', 'Singining in The Rain' and 'Paradise Cafe' are songs of course! We've also had a boat called 'Ozymandias' which is the title of two sonnets written by English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelly and one called 'Sirius' which is the brightest star in the night sky, another called 'WOL' which could mean many things, such as; Wings Of Liberty, Wonders Of Life, World Of Love or Way Of Life!


How to change the name of your canal boat

You need to inform the Canal and River Trust (CRT) that you want to change your boat's name. They will require the boat's current name, registration number and the new name you want for your boat .If the boat currently hasn’t got a licence, make it clear that you are changing the name when making the Licence application, again quoting the old name and registration number. You will also need to inform your insurance company quoting your policy number.

If you've named your canal boat something unusual, do comment below and share it with us, we'd love to hear about it!