Monday, September 26, 2022

Only in the Cays: Cheeky, Clever and Wacky Boat Names

Boat ownership is part of life in the Coronado Cays. Along with the christening ceremony, it’s a tradition and a rite of passage for boaters to give their craft a unique name. Historically, boats were named to designate their location for passengers and crew. There was only one Jolly Roger, and that was all the information people needed about their voyage in those days. But this tradition has changed. Today humor, whimsy, and a good dose of creativity are the basic requirements any self-respecting boater needs to name their water craft. Clever, cheeky, or wacky, the boat’s moniker is the first impression and the last thing a vessel leaves in its wake.

Jim and Sue Shirey's Wheel Sea boat. Photo courtesy of Sue Shirey
Jim and Sue Shirey’s Wheel Sea boat. Photo courtesy of Sue Shirey
Jim and James Shirey fishing on the Wheel Sea. Photo courtesy of Sue Shirey.
Jim and James Shirey fishing on the Wheel Sea. Photo courtesy of Sue Shirey.

Jim and Sue Shirey have lived in the Cays since 1991 and bought their boat in 2001. They christened their new vessel Wheel Sea over international waters and champagne. “Jim’s dad, Jack, always said ‘we’ll see’ whenever answering anything when he was a child. They [Jim and Jack] had also owned an auto auction and sold it. That’s where the wheel comes in,” Sue explained.  The Shireys and their two boys, their late son James, and Matt, practically lived on their boat. They traveled to Cabo, Vallarta, and Barra de Navidad in Jalisco, Mexico over 6 months. They also spend a week on Glorietta Bay for the 4th of July and go to Catalina every summer. Their boat has a practical use, too. “We love our boat and use it as a guest house when we have lots of family in town,” said Shirey.

Pescamigo (Fishing Buddy) is named after Javier and Nanette Cevallos’ old seafood restaurant in Tijuana, Baja California. Javier Cevallos grew up in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, in a shrimp-fishing family and eating his mother’s seafood recipes. “He missed eating his mother’s secret recipes, so he opened the restaurant and brought his mom’s recipes to share with our friends,” Nanette said. Before the restaurant closed, Cevallos would fish with his boys from 3am to 10am on weekends, and take their fresh catch to the Pescamigo restaurant.

Javier Cevabllos on Pesca Amigo. Photo courtesy of Nanette Ceballos
Javier Cevabllos on Pescamigo. Photo courtesy of Nanette Ceballos
Yellowfin tuna
Javier Cevallos’ yellowfin tuna mounted on wall. Photo courtesy of Nanette Cevallos

Of course, there’s a fish story to go with this boat. A 247 pound yellowfin tuna to be exact. Cevallos caught it in a fishing tournament and it’s proudly mounted on their wall in their Cays home along with a plaque.

Memories of good times with family and friends gliding on the Cays channels or the bay aboard a boat are one of the best things about living in this waterside neighborhood. But if you really love your boat, then think the name through. According to lore, re-naming the boat could result in years of misfortune. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, warns, “He was hanged like a dog, and sun-dried like the rest, at Corso Castle. That was Roberts’ men, that was, and comed of changing names to their ships – Royal Fortune, and so on. Now what a ship was christened, so let her stay, I say.”

Naming a boat My Kids’ Inheritance might elicit a cynical smirk from most.  But naming it Plan B might make you think twice about its meaning. Then there are clever names like The Codfather and Deep Ship. And the not so clever ones like Happy Hours or Aquaholic. These names are more likely to invite the Coast Guard to board your vessel than to make them chuckle. One thing is certain; the name emblazoned on the back of a boat could be taken as a reflection of the mariner’s intellect (or lack thereof).

Before naming a boat, the Boaters Association of America has this piece of advice. “Say it out loud like you’re going to say it on the radio,” stated Scott Croft, vice-president of BoatUS. This refers to the vessel’s name you’ll be repeating to the Coast Guard if you have an emergency.

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday! This is La Prima Volta…” Um, what?

Spotted floating in the Cays docks was Promises, Promises… an easy enough name to say under distress. But depending on your generation, it’s likely these innocent words will instantly recall the lyrics of the 1980s hit song by Naked Eyes. Try getting that tune out of your head now.

Promises Promises
Cays Boat Promises Promises

The sailboat named Jada Yachta brings to mind the 1990s hit comedy series Seinfeld, and establishes something in common with the owner. The “Yada Yada” catchphrase became part of the American lexicon after the 1997 episode aired. If you don’t understand the reference, then you’re probably too young or you’ve been living under a barnacle.

Cays Sail Boat Jada Yachta
Cays Sail Boat Jada Yachta

Then there are the environmentally conscience boaters who proudly display their viewpoint on the stern of their Duffy. Watts of Love aptly describes the electric boat’s power source, and seems like a play on words reflecting the owner’s conservation efforts with the joy their watercraft brings them.

Cays Boat Watts of Love
Cays Boat Watts of Love

As you might expect, there’s always that one boat name that no matter how many times you see it, you can’t help but grin. No, it’s not Sparky or Circuit Breaker. This Cays water craft is named Pass Gas. It’s one of those names that probably took the boat owner some time to come up with it, and then muster up the courage to permanently etch on the boat’s, well, behind.

Cays Boat Pass Gas
Cays Boat Pass Gas

As the saying goes, the happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day he buys the boat and then the day he sells it. So, if selling the boat is the second best day in a boat owner’s life, make it easy on the next owner; re-naming a boat should be avoided at all costs or you could be cursed with abundant bad luck.


“Only in the Cays” is a recurring column. Contact us with your story suggestions.


Suzette Valle
Suzette Valle
Suzette Valle moved to the Coronado Cays in 1992. She's the author of "101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up" and a family entertainment writer. She and her husband Alejandro, a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley, have two children, Alex and Bianca. They attended CUSD schools and are CHS and college grads. Suzette enjoys living by the beach, watching movies, and taking her dog, Bella, for long walks. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: