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Naming a New Boat

Is there any guidance on naming a narrowboat. Does a boat have to have a name? Are there any names that should be avoided?

Asked by: Janet Hubbard  | 9.26pm, Sunday 5 July


WW says:

British Waterways primarily keeps track of boats by registration number. They do require that a boat has a name, however, but the name need not be unique. We've never seen any formal guidance but suspect that offensive names would be refused.
On the Thames, however, the register of boats has traditionally been organised by name, so not only must you have a name, it must also be unique. This is easy for "Lady Ethel of Eynsham" but less so for "Kingfisher", so the Environment Agency will add a number to the end of your name if it's not unique. As their registration form asks you: "If the name chosen is not available, are you willing for the launch to be registered with a number (II, III, IV') added to that name?"
So what happens if Kingfisher is based on BW waters, but visits the Thames on a visitor licence? In that case, the EA will give you a name of the form "VISITOR R8763", plus adhesive signs to temporarily fix to your boat.

Richard Fairhurst  | 4.36PM, Monday 6 July


Readers say:

Hi, our boat was already 'named' with a number when we got it and we never bothered to change it. It was registered with BW under its existing name/number and we've never had any problems.I would expect that it would be expensive to change, with the cost of signwriting being what it is.

Sue Harding Hirst  | 10.46PM, Wednesday 8 July

As WWsays - boats will inevitably have a registration number and a name . .
The best on-line facility for researching boat names is on Jim Shead's website http://www.jim-shead.com/waterways/boats.php
(make a mental note to avoid 'Dreamcatcher' and Kingfisher' :-)

David Angove  | 5.10PM, Monday 23 August

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