When you’re out on the lake or riding up the river, do you pay attention to the names of other boats? Do you notice something similar? What do many of them have in common? As you’ve probably noticed many of them have women’s names. Why is that? What is it about a boat that makes it a she?
The tradition of naming a boat after women stems back to ancient times. Throughout history two theories have prevailed. One theory is that when the practice of naming a boat after gods and goddesses faded, the use of everyday female names took its place. The second theory is that European languages tend to use masculine and feminine tones. Boats were assigned a feminine tone, which started the use of female names, we now see that majority of boats are named after a female.
The next question is how do you know which woman to name your boat after? Who deserves this honor? Traditionally the names are either historical females or an important woman in the owner’s life. The historical names were often chosen with the hope that the name would bring the boat home safely. Those that are named after someone special in the owner’s life are more of a tribute to that particular woman. The feminine name is chosen with the hope of protection. The idea that the sea will look after the sailors just as a mother looks after her children.
A interesting superstition to note is that even though boats were named after women, sailors believed that women aboard a ship were actually unlucky. The main reason behind this superstition is that the women were said to be a distraction to the sailors. The behavior of the sailors while women were onboard angered the seas, and they would take their revenge out on the ship.
Through the years we’ve started to shift away from the traditional naming of boats. Now you will see many boats named after cities, men or festivities. Whether or not you follow tradition, the decision of the naming your boat is crucial. The name gives great character to your sea worthy vessel.