Nautical Baby Names: Smooth-sailing choices

Skipper, Saylor and Keel

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.

BeaconBeacon is even rarer than Anchor, as it didn’t even land a spot on the Social Security list for 2016. But with its on-trend -n ending, it could be a bright alternative to Deacon and Brecken.

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.

CruzCruz 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.

SkipperSkipper 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.

Tiller – Though it’s the name of a structure that helps with steering, Tiller has the feel of an occupation name like Parker or Miller. For girls, it comes with cute nickname Tilly.

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8 Responses to “Nautical Baby Names: Smooth-sailing choices”

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GreenEyes375 Says:

August 7th, 2017 at 11:01 pm

As an ocean lover there are so many names on here that I adore!

dresdendoll Says:

August 8th, 2017 at 2:43 am

Spinnaker
Sea
Calypso
Bligh
Swansea
Channel
Canal
Island
Crusoe
Anchor

ccmrath Says:

August 8th, 2017 at 8:30 am

I typically prefer traditional names, but I make an exception for Nautical names – they are some of my favorites. Harbor would make a great virtue middle name for a boy. Marina is a very romantic name, and I can’t help but love Saylor too. Cruz also has some serious cool factor (and it’s a saint name!). In the same train of thought, I’ll mention that Saint Croix (the french variation of Santa Cruz) is a river that runs along the border of Wisconsin-Minnesota and has some touristy port towns along the way.

Seanachaidh Says:

August 8th, 2017 at 1:48 pm

This sums up my exact feelings on Lee. It’s a cop out in the middle, but it’s cool as heck as a first name!

southern.maple Says:

August 8th, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Keel? As in “keel over”?

tfzolghadr Says:

August 8th, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Love Carrick from this list. My least favorite would be Skipper. It’s a bit too Gilligan’s Island for me.

name_sage Says:

August 9th, 2017 at 9:26 am

Oh, Beacon and Harbor are two of my top favorites! It’s nice to see them getting some love!

beynotce Says:

August 10th, 2017 at 8:25 am

I love this style! Skipper is all-girl to me, though–likely because I can’t dissociate it from Barbie’s little sister.

And yes, @southern.maple, “keel over” has its origins as a nautical term for a boat rolling so far onto its side that it cannot right itself.

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