What's in a name?

February is boat show month around the Carolinas. It's a time to look, wish and, if you're lucky enough, buy the boat of your dreams.

Maritime tradition requires that all new vessels be christened and given a name before the inaugural launching.

Boat names have been an interesting case study, particularly since the shift from women's names to just about anything. Today's boat names might be anything from famous personalities, like the deck boat with " I Love Lucy" on the stern, to one named "Your AD Here," which gives one a hint about the owner's occupation.

When asked about the name "Visitation," the lady sitting on the fantail said, "my husband is a pastor, and when people call and ask where he is, I tell them he is out on 'Visitation.'"

Then there's a sailing vessel named "Miss Conception," owned by a retired ob-gyn.

Names on dingys and boat tenders (those small boats that allow mariners to row or motor to shore from a mooring), are just as interesting as the names of primary vessels. Names such as "The End of The Line," "Bar Tender" and "Putt-Putt" bring a smile. Since dingys are small, they often take on little names, like "Minnow," "Ripple," "No Big Thing," "Sea Squirt" and "My Half."

Jimmy Buffett's songs have a big influence on anything that has to do with boats, bars and beaches. So why not join the tropical island crowd and give your boat a trendy name such as "Five O'clock Somewhere," " Parrot Head," "Changes In Latitudes" or "Sailor Man?"

Finally, a question for the fisherman. Given a choice, which name would you choose for your fishing boat, "The Bill Collector" or "The One That Got Away?"

If you chose "The Bill Collector," you made a good choice. The name might have nothing to do with collecting money, but fishing for sailfish and marlin, both of which have long snouts called bills.

There are many great names that choosing one can be difficult. But, don't fret, be happy. Should a better name come to mind, just change the name and have another party. Remember, putting a new name on the transom is a lot cheaper than buying a new boat.