There is often confusion around the names given to the types of boats we see on the waterways around Trinity Marinas. Is it canal boat? Narrowboat? Barge? Well, none are wrong; it is simply personal choice which term you use.

Technically, a barge is slightly different to a canal boat and narrowboat, as it is wider, but we hear them all! We also like to hear all the wonderful personal names that are given to boats.

If you have chosen to live your life on the water, you want your boat to have a name that is personal to you and that can make it your home. If you have a new boat built for you, then you can choose a name at the time of building so it can be added on by a signwriter.

But what if you buy a pre-loved boat that already has a name?

You may like the name it is, and choose to keep it. Or you may want to make it personal to you. Some say it is unlucky to change the name of a boat whilst it is in the water, so if you are superstitious, you could change the name whilst the boat is having any repairs done, as this will likely mean it will be out of the water.

It is believed that this superstition came from a time when it was required to rename wooden ships. This involved the old name being removed by planing the timber and the new one burnt in. Over time, this weakened the timbers and the boat was susceptible to sinking in a storm.

If you are not superstitious, it is fairly easy to change the name of your boat and some people even have a renaming ceremony. We’d love to hear your stories if this is something you have done!

To change the name of your boat, you need to inform British Waterways and give them the boat’s current name, registration number and the new name you want for your boat.

You also need to inform your insurance company quoting your policy number.

The name you choose for your boat may not be unique. As British Waterways knows boats by their number rather than their name, there is no requirement to choose one that doesn’t exist already. The five most common names for canal boats are:

  1. Kingfisher
  2. Dragonfly
  3. Merlin
  4. Willow
  5. Phoenix

Some more unusual ones that we have heard of are:

  • May Contain Nuts
  • My Newt
  • Sally Slap Cabbage
  • Wider Wake
  • She got the house

We’d love to hear if you have an unusual name for your boat!

If you need any extras for your boat, you can find all our canal boat accessories on our Chandlery Marine shop.