Inside Angle: What’s in a Name?

Not long ago, I found myself on a busy stretch of the ICW for the better part of a day, accompanying a client who was moving her boat from Palm Beach to Miami. It was a 55 nautical-mile slog on a day when conditions were too lumpy to go outside. This gave time to take note of just about every boat, large, small, new and old, that I encountered over lo those many hours listening to No Shoes on Sirius. In Sperrys.

And even for a yacht designer like me who has spent thirty-five years paying attention, it’s not possible to keep track of every single boat builder’s brand name in today’s macromarket. It was a lot easier when I was a kid, where here in the States we basically had two or three dozen prominent production builders the likes of Bertram, Hatteras, Chris-Craft and Sea Ray.

In today’s market you have the choice between a Clearwater, Tidewater or a Sweetwater. A Deep Impact or a Shallow Sport. An AB, HCB or SACS. Even a Broom or a Bullet.

Boats are named for all kinds of bodies of water. Some are thusly branded as modest warnings to their operators, while other builders are more boastful of their vessel’s capabilities. In ascending order of bravado, Lake & Bay, Bayliner, Back Cove, Gulf Crosser, Ocean and Offshore come to mind. I even saw a Fjord. What’s a Fjord doing on the Intracoastal?

Some boats associate themselves with specific geographic regions, whether or not they’re manufactured within a thousand nautical miles of said locale. Boston Whaler? Built in Florida. Grand Banks hails from Taiwan. Then there’s East Bay, Jarrett Bay, Walker Bay, Hatteras, Palm Beach, Avalon, Riviera, Malibu, Zeelander, Jupiter, even Galaxy. Spin the globe or the universe, pick somewhere you like and run with it.

Want to play superhero? Alright, but beware those brand names which conjure up images that might put your ego at risk of writing checks that your body can’t cash, as the movie says. Contender, Ranger, Scout, Pathfinder, Viking arrrrgh. Yes, those all work. But you’d better bring your A-game if you’re going to be seen shirtless behind the wheel of a Rambo or an Ultimate Warlock. There’s even a brand called the 33rd Strike Group! I got yer “insurrection” right here, Karen.

Mid-afternoon on the ICW, some boat names just made me hungry. Ribcraft and Smoker Craft specifically.

Wife has her ups and downs? Buy her a Moody. Do you want your kids to remember you fondly? Leave a Legacy in your will.

Of course, there are boats named after fish. Yellowfin, Goldfish, Wahoo, fine. Some go further afield and adopt the monikers of birds and reptiles one might see at sea. Albatross, C-Hawk, Falcon, Superhawk, Eagle, War Eagle, Iguana and Gekko are all on offer for you ornithologists and ichthyologists.

Feel the need to make a Statement? Are you an Intrepid soul? Is a little Prestige needed to keep up with the Joneses? You could be a Legend.

Some orphaned brand names might be mistaken for health care and medical devices. That’s a pretty powerful Pacemaker you got there, captain. And an impressively long and beamy Trojan. Which came first?

You could buy a boat that sounds like it does what you need to be doing. Focus. Release. I saw a Formula named “Baby” on the deck of a megayacht north of Lauderdale. I hear that stuff is at a premium these days.

Some boat make and model names are just pretentious. I spotted a forty-year-old 30-foot express cruiser which was described as “300 Grande” in plastic decals beneath the sun-ravaged lexan portlights. Going once, going twice, SOLD for nine grand!

Royalty association is a safe and popular choice for boat builders. Between Crownline, Regal, Queenship, Tiara, Princess, Princecraft (no relation to yours truly) or merely a Marquis, you too can stick your nose in the air just a bit higher if that’s what makes you tick.

After these long contemplative hours at modest speeds, I realized I should consider what the vessel I’m aboard broadcasts to the rest of you on the ICW. So, with apologies to Tony Montana in Scarface, say ‘ello to my Little Harbor friend.

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This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.


Boat Lyfe