Over the last few months I’ve been producing guides on how to name your boat, and have come across many examples of offensive boat names, some of which should probably be banned, outlawed, and not allowed.

When it comes to naming your boat, there aren’t too many rules on what you can and can’t do. In fact, the US Coast Guard don’t even go into too much detail on what constitutes a banned boat name, aside from the following paragraph I found on their website:

“The name may not be identical, actually or phonetically, to any word or words used to solicit assistance at sea; may not contain or be phonetically identical to obscene, indecent, or profane language, or to racial or ethnic epithets.” 

But what does that actually mean?

Well, to give you an example, if you were to name your boat “coast guard”, that would definitely get banned. Why? Because it could lead to confusion should you be making a mayday call.

Think about it, if you’re boat is called “Coast Guard” it’s going to cause a lot of problems when identifying your vessel should the worst happen.

This is a great example of what would constitute a banned boat name as it falls under the category of being a word used to solicit assistance at sea.

Similarly, if you were to name your boat any of the following, there’s no way you would be allowed to register it: 

All of those would be considered akin to a name used to solicit assistance and help.

Other banned boat names that you would not be able to register are those which are considered to be indecent or obscene.

These aren’t banned boat names and are actually real

I know what you’re thinking though, you’ve seen loads of boat names that fit that criteria, and here’s just a few examples I’ve seen on real boats local to me or online that have been allowed:

  • Aft Hole
  • B-Yacht’ch
  • Bullship
  • Cunning Stunts
  • Fart Butt
  • Floating Seamen
  • Fox Sake
  • In-Her Course
  • My Big Deck
  • Phucawya
  • Piece of Ship
  • Ship Faced
  • Titan Uranus
  • Wasted Seamen

But all of those names above haven’t been banned and are actually legitimate names that made it through the registration process.

Titan Uranus was not banned

Believe it or not, this is real and was not banned.

So, it’s not entirely clear what might constitute being obscene or indecent.

I can only imagine that it would be if you were to name your boat with the exact spelling of an offensive word, rather than those puns and plays on words you see listed above.

Racial slurs or epithets are banned

One type of boat name I’ve never seen used is one that sounds like a racial slur.

Even if you were to do a play on words with a racial insult, that won’t get registered, and will get banned before you even can think about it.

And rightly so. Boating should be inclusive and racism or being offensive towards other people should never be tolerated at sea – even if you do think it’s a funny name like these ones.

Boat clubs can ban your boat name

Whilst it appears you can call you boat virtually anything as long as it doesn’t infringe on those rules for was it allowed with names, you might find your boat club is different.

Boat clubs up and down the country set their own rules and regulations and will often bar a boat and sailor from membership if the name doesn’t adhere to their own guidelines.

Here are some examples I have heard of:

“Last year a sailor at our local boat club want to call his yacht Cunning Stunts, but our club members voted against it. He had no problem registering this name, but the club wasn’t happy with it being on the member list.”

“I have a friend who was going to name his sailboat Screaming Bitch. He told the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, and they vetoed it completely. He had to re-think his name for something to overcome the ban that was then allowed.”

“I heard a story, whether true or not, that the PHRF refused to list an entrant in a race where the yacht was called Cucking Funt. Makes sense when you think about it!”

Banned boat names in the UK

I also did some research to help out my readers from the UK. It’s very similar to the United States, if not exactly the same.

From what I have found, it doesn’t look like there are any laws or rules in Britain that stop you from naming your boat whatever you like.

You can choose a name that’s already in use with no problems, and just like the United States, the most important aspect from an identification perspective is the registration number.

The last word…

The name of your boat is entirely down to you – most of the time it’s just a novelty name, or something that means a lot to you and your family.

But, as described in this guide, there are definitely exceptions to that rule.

The long and short of it is, that as long as your boat name doesn’t confuse the emergency services, isn’t obscene, and isn’t racially offensive, you can call it pretty much anything you like without it being banned.