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SLASPA TRIVIA-"Why are Boats Referred to as "She"?

The next few issues of Portfolio, we will be providing you with some trivia as it relates to SLASPA’s core business. This week, we shed some light on why are boats referred to as ‘She’ and also provide some information on boat operators responsibility. Have you ever wondered why boats are always referred to as the female gender. When and why did this practice start?

According to Yarns of the Sea, Legends, Myths, and Superstitions: Although women were considered to bring bad luck at sea, mariners always use the pronoun "she" when referring to their ships. Whether its proper name is masculine, or whether it is a man o'war, a battleship, or a nuclear submarine, a ship is always referred to as "she."

This old tradition is thought to stem from the fact that in the Romance languages, the word for "ship" is always in the feminine. For this reason, a Mediterranean sailor always referred to their ship as “she”, and the practice was adopted over the centuries by their English-speaking counterparts.

One source suggests that a ship "was nearer and dearer to the sailor than anyone except his mother." What better reason to call his ship "she"?

Now that you have some history, we’re going to share a little bit about boat operators/captains responsibility when operating the vessel “she”. Did you know that it is the skipper’s responsibility as operator, to take charge of his/her own proficiency by taking a boating safety course? The boat operator should also have a constant awareness of weather, water and other environmental conditions to ensure the safety of his/her crew and his/her passengers.

In addition, we recommend that if you are a Boat Operator of recreational vessels that you invest in your education beyond the boating basics and continue to learn to be a better boater - no matter how much boating experience you may have, there's always more to learn.

Some guidelines to you boat operators prior to departure of your vessel include reviewing emergency equipment and procedures that would outline the following key points to ensure passengers have an enjoyable ride:

  • Loading and movement of passengers and gear
  • Courtesy
  • Importance of maintaining a proper lookout
  • Obeying no-wake or limited-wake zones (wake is defined as the waves left behind as your boat moves through the water)
  • Controlling your waste
  • Controlling boat noise
  • Controlling boat speed
  • Refraining from careless, reckless, or negligent operations
  • Alcohol and controlled substances
  • Observing and operating in accordance with homeland security measures

Three quarters of all reported boating accidents and half of all fatalities involve operator controllable factors. Do your part to keep the oceans clean and the seas safe.

For more information, please contact the Division of Maritime Affairs at 457-6151.