Nautical Baby Names: Smooth-sailing choices
By Carrie Steingruber
Spending a day on the water is an ideal way to escape the heat — or find new name inspiration. Even landlubbers can appreciate the swashbuckling rhythm and symbolic meanings of baby names inspired by boats and sailing. Most of these nautical names are outside the U.S. top 1,000 but don’t feel out of place with today’s trends:
Anchor – This weighty moniker sounds a little bit like ‘anger,’ but still makes for an unexpected word name that connotes stability and strength. It has the advantage of being familiar and easily pronounced, but highly unusual — only 17 boys in the U.S. were christened Anchor last year.
Carrick – Spelled Carrick, it’s a nautical knot; spelled Carrack, it’s a sailing ship that was a precursor to the galleon. Either way, Carrick fits in with the Merricks and Kendricks of the world — in fact, the Carrick spelling was given to 32 boys last year.
Clove – More commonly associated with the spice or the Hunger Games character, Clove could also be a nod to the clove hitch, a handy, all-purpose knot that is especially helpful if you need to tie your boat to a piling. Clove is hovering outside the U.S. top 1,000 for girls.
Cruz– Cruz means ‘cross’ in Spanish and is a unisex name in Spanish-speaking cultures, but the anglicized pronunciation sounds like ‘cruise’ and calls to mind Santa Cruz, California, as well as the third son of David and Victoria Beckham. Like the coastal city, Cruz is breezy and cool, and it’s currently No. 341 for boys in the U.S. (after peaking at No. 278 in 2013). Crew is a tailored, nautical alternative that’s on the rise.
Galiot – The galiot was a 17th-century Dutch merchant ship with a flat bottom designed for sailing into shallow waters. Galiot has a merry, confident rhythm and the trendy -t ending of Wyatt, Elliot and Scarlett. Bonus: For girls, potential nickname Gal means ‘wave’ in Hebrew, and is now assicated with Wonder Woman portrayer Gal Gadot.
Harbor – One of the more obscure nature names, Harbor conjures up feelings of safety and serenity, a refuge from rough seas. It’s wearable for both genders (67 girls and 27 boys were named Harbor last year), though on a girl it might be confused for the uber-popular Harper.
Keel – Or Kiel, or Keil — they’re all pronounced like the structure that gives a boat stability. Short and smart, Kiel briefly entered the Top 1000 in the ’80s, likely thanks to Hill Street Blues actor Kiel Martin, but has since fallen in favor of the lengthier Ezekiel.
Lee – The leeward side of a boat is the side away from the wind. Perhaps it’s time for sea-going parents to reclaim this light and breezy moniker from mediocrity — after years of being stuck in the middle, Lee would make a distinctive first name for either gender.
Marina – One of many Mar– names that come from the Latin root for ‘sea,’ pretty Marina could be an update on Mary or a nod to the bustling place where boaters spend a lot of their time. The name also has Shakespearean cred and translates well internationally. (It’s just outside the Top 25 in Spain.)
Navy – Whether referring to the color of the deep blue sea or the military branch that navigates it, Navy is an offbeat alternative to Nova, Ava, Maeve and other ‘v’ names for girls (though a handful of boys were named Navy last year too).
Riggs – Riggs calls to mind the rigging on a ship — all the ropes and lines that support the mast and control the sails. Though given to only 65 boys last year, Riggs is not far removed from Briggs, which has risen to No. 665 for boys. Add an extra syllable to get Riggins, an even rarer pick.
Saylor – This chart-climber in the vein of Piper, Harper and Sawyer is more popular than the Sailor spelling, which hasn’t cracked the U.S. top 1,000. But there is celebrity precedent for both spellings: Christie Brinkley’s youngest child is Sailor, and quarterback Jay Cutler and wife Kristin Cavallari’s youngest is Saylor.
Skipper – Skipper is another name for the captain of a boat, and it’s fittingly buoyant—some might say too buoyant, better suited for a nickname than a birth certificate. But with occupation names still hot, Skipper doesn’t sound too out of place next to Ryder and Tucker.