Woody Boater Asks. What’s In A Name?

My sons first boat, named after his dog's nick name.. And no its not his or our password to anything!

My oldest sons first boat, named after his dog’s nick name.. And no its not his or our password to anything!

One of the fun parts of classic boat ownership is naming ones boat. Some, me included can spend, hours, days even weeks think’n and pondering for the just right name. In my opinion, and I count as one, I always feel as if the name on the boat should match the period that the boat is from. Like “Scram” for a 50’s boat, no Transformer or something new. I also love to match up a font that’s period, or the ultimate, have it hand lettered. That’s the way god intended boats to be lettered.

Ham-a-lama, my other sons first boat. All old school lettering.

Ham-a-lama, my younger sons first boat. All old school lettering. I have font memories of yelling at him to not scrape the dock.. HA..

Now, there is always the classic blend of names name. Jill and Tom become Jillom.. Or the easy one, Just add II, or like the Thayers, Thayer IV..

The official Movie boat the day we fond it in the barn.

The official Movie boat the day we fond it in the barn.

Even though there is about XXXXXIII Thayers out there according to the web! In many cases the names tell a story of the history of the boat, or like me, I name boats after people in my life that have contributed to the boats being in our lives. Hence Suzy, Suzy II and Lil Suzy….

Lil Suzy our fun Trojan Hot Shot, behind Big Bubba the 1958 Chevy

Lil Suzy our fun Trojan Hot Shot, behind Big Bubba the 1958 Chevy

She is happy, I am happy. Thats it, it's that simple.

She is happy, I am happy. Thats it, it’s that simple.

I have a feeling there will be more Suzys, Suzanne, Suzeeeeee, Suzy B, Suzanna, Tuanne, S’ann…. or Not.. I tried a conceptual name once..

That was 7 years ago.. 3 houses ago, 2 suburbans ago..

That was 7 years ago.. 3 houses ago, 2 suburbans ago.. Same wife..

Just Swell. I thought it was perfect. The Word Swell was from that period as a slang term, Just Swell means to relax, and in the wood world. Please just swell up. It had it all.. Maybe to clever.

Sylvia, my beloved 3 year restoration. named after my 106 year old Grandmother who told be to waste some money on something fun. Little did I know, it would lead to all this. this is the boat that started it all. Photographed right off my dock in Reedville VA after a huge downpour. Note the color of the water. All hand lettered in Silver leaf...that tarnished in a year..

Sylvia, my beloved 3 year restoration. named after my 106 year old Grandmother who told be to waste some money on something fun. Little did I know, it would lead to all this. this is the boat that started it all. Photographed right off my dock in Reedville VA after a huge downpour. Note the color of the water. All hand lettered in Silver leaf…that tarnished in a year.. This darn photo is all over the place now on the web. But it all started here.

Fellow Woody Boater Chad, named his 18 Sportsman Lily after his daughter.

The Chads!

The Chads!

She will never able to sell that thing. She will have to drag it to the dorm, her wedding.. I am also a huge fan of Alan Jackson’s boat names. Flat Top, Little Bitty… that guy should write songs or sumth’n… So today we celebrate your favorite Woody Boat names. They don’t have to be yours. Just your favorite.

One of my favorite names of all time. Its has it all, Hand Lettered, A Miss in the name and a joke and references her special history as a step hydro

One of my favorite names of all time. Its has it all, Hand Lettered, A Miss in the name and a joke and references her special history as a step hydro


64 replies

    Named after my late fathers favorite saying, when us kids were in the kitchen cooking he would yell out “Make Me One!” and for me restoring boats for 38 years people would say “Make ME One!”


    Working for the local power company and worked many hours of overtime on Storm Restoration, which help pay for the boat, my kids said lets name it “Storm Duty” that way when someone asked where you were we could way he is on “Storm Duty!”

  3. Troy
    Troy says:

    I often tend to keep the name that comes with the boat. (I will tell you of the exception later)

    For example “American Beauty”. What a perfect name! How could I ever change that. Of course being a recovering Dead Head doesn’t hurt either.

    I like to call this picture “A real American Beauty with American Beauty”. That’s MOM!

  4. Sean
    Sean says:

    You can never go wrong naming your boat after your Bride…
    My wife’s initials are C.J. , so with a nautical spin… Voila!

    And the Greavette flies like a bird over the water too.

    • Sean
      Sean says:

      My current project is a 1966 Donzi Ski Sporter. However, she is being re-configured as a bench seat and adorned with wooden decking. So, now she’s half Donzi and half mine… My friends/Family have dubbed her the “SEANZI”. Odds are that’s what shell stay.

  5. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    My first mate, Marianne, has named all of our boats. When we bought our 17′ CC Deluxe Runabout 20 years ago, she named it Water Lily because of the water lilys in front of our cottage, and her love of Monet water lily paintings. When we bought and started the resoration of our 20′ CC Continental over two years ago, I told her this would be a more powerful, faster and louder boat (MCL poser). She struggled for several months, had a list of several potential names, but did not feel any of them were right. One day while on her laptop at the kitchen table, she acclained ” I have it”, and the photo is that name just lettered on the transom a few weeks ago. Now you know the rest of the story!

  6. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    My mother and my wife’s mother have been gone for many years now. These two women sacrificed so much for both of us and each of us in their time on this earth. When it came time to fix a name to the ’59 Chetek, Middy Murr and Mae Baas were more than deserving of the tribute!

  7. cutwaterguy
    cutwaterguy says:

    “Maltese Falcon” 1933 Greavette, i don’t know of any photos, mysterious as the bird. please post photo if u have 1.


    A good friend of mine, Dennis Spillane’s dad was from Bantry Bay Ireland and his boys named the boat in his honor. They used to imitate his brogue when he used to say “Blasted Screwballs” when he descrided someone being a jacka*#

    • Sean
      Sean says:

      While visiting the “homeland” I spent a night at a fantastic castle (B&B) right on Bantry Bay. Lord Admiral Nelson is amongst previous guests of this mansion.
      Bantry Bay is a picturesque Irish coastal town with some of the nicest people you’ll meet anywhere!

  9. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    Our first two Chris Crafts were named ” Best Buddy” for our son Alex. That name would not fit on this transom. The great artist Alan Johnson said I needed a new name. The few ideas that had meaning, would not fit. While telling Wayne Mocksfield this story on the phone, I told him I was heading to the dock to relax. Wayne said “there is you name!” He was right. We made the “R” look like a prescription, because well woody boating is the best prescription for anything.

  10. Troy
    Troy says:

    The boat we did re-name and I LOVE was purchased as Maynies Mistress.

    Working together Sandi and I came up with her current name. I think it is very fitting for a 50+ MPH C. Ray Hunt design.

    I know it’s not wood, but I did take the picture.

  11. Ken Miller
    Ken Miller says:

    As a mental health care professional, my wife has made it her life’s work to help children (mentally and sexually abused, etc.) When we met and ever since, her “kids” called her “Miss Cynthia”. Today, her kids introduce her to THEIR KIDS and tell her if it weren’t for her…….well, you can figure it out. When it came to naming our U-22, my first wooden boat, I had only one—but very obvious—choice, “Miss Cynthia”. Here’s to my wife……a Great American:

  12. Bob B.
    Bob B. says:

    We’re second owners of Cynthia, bought from our neighbor who had named it after his daughter in 1948.

    Years ago at the boatyard a stranger was admiring our boat and asked my dad if it was named for his wife. Dad said “No. It’s named for the neighbor’s daughter.” Guy must think we’re perverts.

  13. Wiseboater
    Wiseboater says:

    My boat came with a the name “Cherup”. And I am not one to mess with the gods of the sea, so…….”Cherup” it is!!

    Websters dictionary defines Cherup

    Cher”up\, n. A short, sharp, cheerful noise; a chirp; a chirrup; as, the cherup of a cricket.

    She does bring cheer to many people. And she is different than others. IT FITS!

    This is the original flag with great scripting.

  14. Scott Stensland
    Scott Stensland says:

    Every now and then it seems like a “no brainer”.
    Unrestored, original every day user; wife is a descendant of the McCoys – as in Hatdield & McCoys, there you have it.
    Oh, I almost forgot; sometimes they both scare me a
    little bit…..
    Out enjoying the the lake with our son Woodrow “woody”

  15. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    Our Greavette came to us with the perfect name. Makes me hum the tune every time I see it. Wish I knew the words. My made-up verse includes the term “frostbite.”

    We are told the boat had a female name before, but no one knows what it was. The name was changed to its current designation during its 2012 restoration at Rejuvenation Woodworks.

    Really looking forward to a time when Eau! Canada can revisit the waters of her motherland. Gravenhurst, 2015???

  16. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    I can tell you’re an art director by how well you nail the fonts on all of your boat names, Matt. So many times restorations are let down by using fonts that don’t fit the era of the boat. And unless it’s painted, try to find the money for real gold leaf. The cost is considerable, but small relative to everything else you’ve done to the boat.

    My boat is named “Rabbit” after our 1939 log cabin in Wisconsin. It was named “Rabbit Hill” by the original owners. Ironically, we have so many bald eagles that there aren’t any rabbits left. I apologize for the trailer shot, and the rusty trailer.

  17. Roger Martin
    Roger Martin says:

    The story for this 1958 Owens 25 foot is that it came down the cost from the builder then up the Mississippi River to Ft. Madison, Iowa where it got stored away for 39 years before we got it and now will be enjoyed 8 miles down the river in Montrose, Iowa.

  18. Roger Martin
    Roger Martin says:

    She might be just an old aluminum boat but she is so much fun like the name says, on the Mississippi River.

  19. tuobanur
    tuobanur says:

    I grew up with five brothers (no sisters), I’m next to the youngest, and as you can imagine we had lots of friends hanging out around the house at all times. My late mothers name was Dorthy and the newbies called her Miss Limehouse but the guys and gals that hung out the most and that she liked, called her Miss Dot so Miss Dot will be going on my transom.. 😀

  20. Wes Yandt
    Wes Yandt says:

    When we got our boat it was named “Vouvray” which served the previous owners well for over 20 years. We renamed it in a proper christening ceremony the “Uncle Bob” in honor of my father’s uncle Bob Yandt who started Yandt Boat Works in Coeur d’Alene Idaho in 1915. The “Uncle Bob” was one of the last boats that Bob Yandt built.


    • Michael
      Michael says:

      I remember calling for the Seattle police boat to help pump Vouvray at Berg’s Marina in about ’85. When I asked the owner if she was a “Yandt” he was surprised anyone would know the builder. I explained that I spent every summer with 2 Yandt’s in the bay, Big Red and Miss Del Cardo.
      Having seen the beautiful Uncle Bob in Cd’A a couple of years ago it’s nice to know that Vouvray is home in Idaho.

  21. Gary
    Gary says:

    I was accused of buzzing the beach all the time in my hydro so the hydro was named Buzzz. After that there have been many boats and names that bubbled forth. The latest boat that I am rebuilding has the original 300 Hp engine and a few years ago Gadoufaou came up. I believe it means “Where camels fear to tread”, water. So, if noting else causes a brain fart that might be it.

  22. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    When I was three months old my dad came home with our first family boat, a 1954 Bryant Voyager, 21′ twin outboard cruiser that he christened “Thisuldu”. His last cruising boat was a 1968 25′ Alglas sportfisher, dubbed “Thisuldu Too”. There were several boats in-between and a few after – Reinell and Thompson outboards and a 1962 Tollycraft 27′ cruiser, but that original Bryant is the boat we all remembered most. When I bought our current cruiser five years ago – the 1965 Tollycraft 38′ Mariner, Dad suggested we revive the family boat name. We will hold a re-christening ceremony soon and once again cruise the waters of the Northwest aboard “Thisuldu”.

    • Don Palmer
      Don Palmer says:

      Dick knows me well enough to agree that Analog is a good name for my boat. He and I share the same music tastes and he has done a number of upgrades on my boat for me.
      I am into vinyl records and vintage vacuum tube audio.
      There is nothing digital on my 1957 Chris. So it is appropriately named.
      Dick’s Dad lived to the ripe old age of 99 and Dick definitely wanted to continue the tradition when he named his Tolly Thisuldu. It really pleased the old guy!

  23. Steve
    Steve says:

    Hey Matt, Your timing is so ironic. I am just reading woody boater while I am waiting for my sign-painter buddy to come over and start on the lettering of my boat. I will be sure to show him this story to give him inspiration!

    Great Timing!

  24. brian t
    brian t says:

    With the original builder / owner from 1930 to 2006, our boat was never named. When we became the current caretakers in 2006, I struggled for a proper name but to no avail.

    I gave up and just asked my kids and the 3 y/o nailed it.

  25. Art
    Art says:

    My grandfather purchased this 1939 24 foot Delux Utility from Chris Craft July 23rd, 1938 and had the name Molly-O put on the transom before delivery. The CC employee that lettered the boat was Ed Posey…….more on that later.

    All of my grandfather’s boats were named MOLLY-O after his wife whose name was Marie and her maiden name was McQuisten…..very Irish. However, she always went by Molly. The “O” was a reference to her Irish heritage.

    The boat was owned by two other (very local) families from 1960 thru 1978 and each one changed the name, FIN’S FOLLY and then Woop’s Hi. We purchased her back in 1978 and began restoring her to her original condition. During the restoration, we considered many names and settled on REFLECTIONS……………alluding to the boat’s heritage and the light dancing off the varnish. I refused to name her MOLLY-O as, I’m sorry to say, she was not my favorite grandmother…..I’ll leave it at that. So it came time to contact a person to letter the boat with REFLECTIONS, and a former CC employee, Tom Cutherbertson, recommended another former CC employee, Ed Posey who was well into his 80’s. Ed came to the house one day to letter the boat in gold leaf and we described the lettering that we wanted. He took one look at the boat and announced……….”that’s MOLLY-O which I lettered at the plant”. He then went on to describe the original lettering style and colors and told us that he remembered every boat that he lettered. At that point we decided that fait was directing us and the name MOLLY-O would live on!
    Since MOLLY-O lives in an enclosed boat house, we have been able to retain the Ed Posey work of art to this day.

    • Brian Flaherty
      Brian Flaherty says:

      Art, that is by far the best boat naming story of the day! It is fate, magic, Chris Craft VooDoo, or what have you, but to have the artist who originally painted the name come out and immediately recognize the boat and remember the original name is just amazing. Not only does that clearly tell you what you should name her, but it is also quite the compliment to your restoration efforts in that you got all the details right and someone who probably hadn’t seen that boat in several decades still recognized it! Well done!!

    • Norm
      Norm says:

      Art, where is the Molly O located? My father had a boat with the same name in the early to mid 40’s. Looked just like the one pictured.

  26. Randy
    Randy says:

    This little ‘beauty’ was going to be burned by the previous owner until I rescued her. I was essentially her last hope, her “SavinGrace”. Whatever the restoration cost she has been worth it!

  27. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    There are rumors around Woodyboaterville that I named my boat after part of my anatomy, but I swear she came with the name ‘lil squirt and the kids vetoed any attempt to change it.

  28. scalertom
    scalertom says:

    In 1957, my father in law built a 14′ runabout. He named it “Sea Duce”. It stayed at the family beach home until 2010. That’s when my son, Eric, and I rescued her and brought it back to the same garage she was originally built. We did modify the name. She is now known as Sea Deuce.

  29. Rick
    Rick says:

    Found Panther in a high school shop. She had been there for 18 years and was about to be parted out. The shop teacher sold her to me at a a price that just the windshield brackets were worth on the condition that I have her restored. The HS mascot there was a panther so I decided to give a nod to her home for all those years.

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      I don’t know who Vintage Marine used for the gold lief but it has a great swirl pattern to it that really catches the sunlight.

  30. km
    km says:

    R & H 1911 Mullins launch. Named after the purchasers two boys Ralston age 9 and Harry age 11…

  31. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    I bought my latest cruiser with the name Wild Oats nicely painted on the transom. To my wife’s chagrin I didn’t want to go through stripping that off and I feel the proper ceremony required for a name change too much of a pain. We are getting older now and it has been suggested it be changed to Bran Flakes. I don’t find that too funny.

  32. Kevin F
    Kevin F says:

    I have a 1948 U-22 that has been with me for 22 years. I grew up on our island on Lake St. Clair, not far from the CC plant, so the sight of these wooden boats was part of my youth. When on the island, it was absolutely peaceful; we did not have phone service, electricity, or running water. There were not any negative distractions from the outside world; only happiness was invited on the island. My grandfather built the house with manual tools, my mother grew up there, and so did I. My grandfather had about every type of CC they built, from up swept triples to utilities, to cruisers. In fact, he has the same model boat I own. We used to go to Harsen’s Island sometimes and stop in at Sans Souci. I always thought that was a cool name, sounded wonderful to my youthful ears, although I had no idea what it meant.

    When I bought my boat, I named it after then then GF, who turned then became my wife; so I did what any prudent man would do, I named it after her.

    Well, it did not matter, she is gone, as well as 90% of my net worth. Perhaps a fair trade. But I kept my boat, as she will be passed down to my kids.

    When re-naming time came, I could not name the boat after either of the kids, the other would be mad. And their names could not be combined well.

    So I thought about how I feel on the boat. How after the worst day possible, I could set her free from her lines, with a roar from her mighty engine, we would be off on an adventure, the stress left long ago in her wake, a smile replaced on my face. The worries have left, the troubles are gone, the future is bright.

    So Sans Souci she is. French, meaning “without worries”

  33. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    The original owners of my 1954 Chris-Craft 22′ Sea Skiff purchased her new to serve as the main launch for their 30-acre island estate on the gorgeous Chain O’ Lakes in Three Lakes, WI.

    Their summer place was named Denby Island.

    60 years on…and her simple name DENBY remains lettered in bronze on the transom.

  34. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    Ray McFarland is the closest thing I have to a grandfather, my Dad’s father had a heart attack and died in 1955. My dad is my hero and I always enjoyed his stories that my dad has told over the years. His nick name was “Chief” because he was the chief of the hot mill of the steel mill he worked at. Near the completion of my CC.Custom I was not sure what to call her ,(Ray lost his father in WWII) and I wanted to honor thm both. As far as I’m concerned Ray is Chief of the shop. So to me the choice was easy.

  35. Phillip JONES
    Phillip JONES says:

    My Bride was Betty Brooks (known as BB) 38 years ago this Sept. so she renamed the WeldWood.:) NO Problem No Problem, yes dear. 28’CC Cruiser was Betsy, close enough. 57 barrel stern Miss Bhaven, Shepherd is yet to be named but in the running LAST DA^* DIME / LAST DANCE you get the drift of the theme, 🙂

  36. Ron Stevenson
    Ron Stevenson says:

    The original name, aka “the $100 boat”.

    Watch for the story soon!

    1953 35’CC Commander

  37. Justin Heidtman
    Justin Heidtman says:

    I can’t believe that I can’t find a photo, but I named my 1938 21’ Chris Craft Utility “Grand” Memories. I bought the boat while on vacation with my Grandfather (on his 1985 Carver 32 Aft Cabin). He had a 1931 Dee Wite as his first boat and always told stories about the boat and cruising around. He also spent some time in the Algonac and Detroit area watching Garwood and the Smith Family racing boats in the Gold Cup.
    My other Grandfather used to live in Detroit 5 blocks off the river. He always talked about Guy Lombardo and the hydroplanes racing in the Gold Cup.
    I grew up around boats and boating and listening to these two wonderful men reliving the glory days of boating, so it was a natural fit. And every time I look at her I think of them, and it doesn’t hurt that I can remember a lot of “Grand’s” leaving the wallet working on the boat.

  38. John Mears
    John Mears says:

    My wife and I are do-it yourselfers. She hand laid the real goldleaf and engine turned the name on our 1948 Chris Craft 33ft Delux Enclosed Cruiser. We wanted a meaninful name and font from from the apprx time period and Cat’s Meow seemed quite appropriate and I believe 1948 was at the tail end of the Art Deco period, so we choose that style of font. In this pic she had just finished the goaldleaf but had not hand painted the black outline. It is turning out great.

  39. Capt. Slats
    Capt. Slats says:

    One of the perks of my job, is I spend a lot of time on the water and get to know people, their boats, their boat’s names, and how they got each. Always a good story.

  40. Hank Vander Werp
    Hank Vander Werp says:

    Thanks for using that great picture of “Joyride” in your opening scene yesterday. As I recall you took that picture of my son and I as we were leaving the marina at Hessel one beautiful summer afternoon. It brought back some great memories. Keep up the great work.

    Hank Vander Werp
    Cedarville, MI

  41. Alex
    Alex says:

    What a fun topic.

    1. “Marion E.,” because it was right to name our first 25′ Sportsman after my only daughter, and because I grew up with a boat called Marion B., named after my grandmother.
    2. “The Majestic,” because a completely restored 25′ Sportsman is, well, majestic.
    3. “Play Ball!,” because my family loves baseball, because baseball is as summer as summer gets, and because a 25′ Red and White Express is as red and white (ALL red and white) as a baseball.
    4. “Lush Life,” named after my favorite jazz standard, and because this early 22U is especially elegant.
    5. “Scotch,” because I enjoy the stuff, and because a 20′ Grand Prix is a sophisticated execution.
    6. “Black and Blue,” named after another jazz standard, because this XK-19 is dark blue, and because it beat me up financially.
    7. “FDO, Baby!,” named after Family Dollar (FDO is the stock symbol), because this 19′ Commander was bargain priced.
    8. “Super Fly,” named after the well known blacksploitation flic of this 1971 vintage, and because this boat flies.
    9. “HAL,” because its 1938 custom builder named it so.
    10. “Training Wheels,” because this 15′ Cavalier was bought as learner boat for my wife and kids.

    I’ve so sweated naming boats because I wanted to love each name. I went through thousands of song titles before “Lush Life” hit me. No idea why I never thought of it first. I still remember exactly when “Play Ball!” came to me, while driving down the road. I knew I wanted it to be something baseball-ish, but nothing moved me. Then, BINGO! I’ve also come up with a name before finding the right boat. “Training Wheels” is one such case.

    We have 4 unnamed boats. A 20 Custom that has never been named because it is grey (I’m selling it btw), another XK-18 that needs a motor to be useable, a 15′ Whaler (we really should name this boat as we use it a lot), and a 23′ Cobalt that is almost too pretty to mar with graphics.

  42. Texx
    Texx says:

    Hank Vander Werp and his son on board “Joyride” near Hessel, Michigan – summer 2012.

  43. Fred
    Fred says:

    One of the boats I had a few years back, a 1957 Yellow Jacket Riviera, I named Pollinator. The sign guy made little yellow jacket bees hovering around the name.

  44. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:

    Naming a boat can be tough. Especially when you purchase it without the Boatress’ knowledge, let alone acquiescence. I was in just such a state. I bought my boat sight unseen (other than virtual) and arranged to have it shipped from Seattle to Port Huron, MI. I owned the boat for two weeks before fessing up. I thought for a long time how to tell her and came up with the following: I said to her, “You know how women have Menopause? Well I had a Mental Pause!” That was enough to break the ice. 3 days later when she finally started speaking to me again that story got repeated again and again as we told others about the boat purchase. By the time the boat arrived from Seattle the name was solidly cast. I had some others in mind but it just seemed right. And it give me peace of mind so Mental Pause is (will be – not yet finished).

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