Boat names

There are a lot of boat naming myths. And re-naming myths.

But there are a few laws.

I am currently trying to register my boat in Canada, and discovering this. They are not difficult to comply with, but somewhat interesting.

First, there are two ways to get your boat legally registered with the government. The quickest, easiest, and most obvious is to license the boat. You can pick pretty much any name that strikes you, although you should probably avoid defamatory or libelous names which might come back to bite you. Licensing a small boat is free. Licensing my sailboat would be free.

That is not what I am doing.

The other way to be legal when boating in Canada is to register it with Transport Canada. There are forms to fill out, you need the tonnage – requiring either an inspection or a simplified formula which you need to separately swear is correct. There is a fee. This has to be mailed to an office and then processed there. There are contact numbers and methods to find out where your application is in the process.

This is what I am doing.

Why? there are basically two reasons to do it this way. The first is if you need a marine mortgage. A registered boat has a real title proving ownership, which any bank is going to insist upon, while a licensed boat usually does not have a real title.

An oil paint depicting a catboat sailed by a man and three boys with a fair wind and catch of fish. On the horizon a larger ship is sailing to the same breeze.
Winslow Homer’s “A Fair Wind”, later called “Breezing Up”. Via Commons.Wikimedia.Org

The second is the reason I am doing it: a registered boat can travel internationally without issues. Well, without issues about the boat’s documentation. And I plan to sail occasionally to the San Juan Islands and Port Townsend, places we have sailed in the past and of which we have good memories. Maybe further, too, I don’t know – I have standing invitations in a few places in the USA.

A registered boat has far fewer name options. One has to choose a Port of Registry, and there are not a huge number of these, and the name has to be unique for that Port of Registry; there cannot be two Boaty McBoatfaces registered for Vancouver. Thank the gods.

To avoid issues, I have to submit three possible names in ranked preferences. So the name choices are:

    • Par le Vent
    • Med Vinden
    • With the Wind

The astute translator already knows they all mean roughly the same thing, in French, Norwegian, and English. They are all just a bit more appealing to me than the current name, Huckleberry.

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