Tag Archives: naming

What’s In a Name?

Boat with no Name image
The Boat with no Name

What’s In a Name?

You may be wondering about all this talk of Mirrless, especially after my previous posts discussing the naming of the narrowboat in Hold the Front Page & The First Thing. I’ll try and explain. Get a cup of tea or coffee (or something stronger), you’re going to need it.

In Name Only

We spent a lot of time coming up with a unique name for our narrowboat and I mean, a lot of time. If you recall (see above), we had originally planned on calling the boat Out of the Blue until we found several others named that. We wanted to come up with something unique if at all possible.

After much thought we amended this slightly to Out of the Mist and we were happy with it as a name. It was a bit ethereal, a bit more allied to the earth. It was us. However, that was until we arrived at the marina to take possession.

A Narrowboat Named Mirr-something

The narrowboat is named Mirrless. Well, it’s not actually named Mirrless, it’s named Mirrlees, on the side of the boat. But it is actually called Mirrless because that is the name under which the marina have sold it to us. It is registered with the Canal and River Trust as such. But every time you look at the boat, you see Mirrlees.

Confused? Yes, thought so.

At the marina, talking with the sales crew, engineers and electricians they all talk of Mirrless (I’m not sure it’s all favourable now, after all the time they’ve spent on it but more of that in a later blog). In fact, I feel there are very few people on the marina who will not be aware of Mirrless. It has been given a totally new lease of life here.

But What Does it all Mean?

What does Mirrlees mean? What does Mirrless mean?

Well, Mirrlees means I have psychic power! I may have but it must be only a small amount 😉 It also is the name of a Scottish Economist and an engine; the Mirrlees Blackstone. There is also an author called Hope Mirrlees who wrote a very early fantasy story.

Mirrless is a little more difficult to track down. Did I say little? I’m sorry, I meant impossible. A Google search defaults to Mirrlees which is less than helpful as it’s how we got into this problem in the first place. You read the names interchangeably in your mind, thinking one is the other. You also get all the results for mirrorless! Google also confuses as a link to Hope Mirrless turns out to be a transcription error for Hope Mirrlees!

Mirrless? The only thing I can find is The Mirrless Works Band on Spotify

It’s a brass band. It’s Northern, celebrates the good honest people of the Mirrless factory and they won an award back in the mists of time (’70’s).

I Name This Boat

The narrowboat will remain named Mirrless. What can I say? It’s certainly unique!


rp – peace and narrowboats


The First Thing

What’s the First Thing?

The first thing anyone asks you if you mention you are buying a boat is; ‘What’s it called?’ – Our narrowboat has a name but we want to change it. There’s a particular reason for this and that is because its current name doesn’t mean anything! I searched and searched and after false starts, whereby Google tried to be helpful, changed my search criteria but I didn’t notice, so I spent hours following meanings down rabbit holes that were nothing to do with the actual name! When I actually corrected this and put in the name – nothing! Well, that’s not strictly true, it did come up with a brass band that won some competition or other, in 1960-something however, this had no meaning for us.

Don’t Change the Name

There is a lot of discussion around changing a boat’s name, believe me (1, 2, 3, 4) There are two camps; the ‘Don’t do it!’ camp or ‘vehement opposition to superstition and do it’ camp. There’s a ceremony that can be performed to ensure no bad luck befalls the re-namer and his or her boat – for ‘bad luck’ read ‘boat sinks’. As I understand it, you are basically keeping on the good side of Poseidon who keeps a record of all boats in some ledger, that kind of thing. Now I’m not a superstitious person but… And the ceremony involves alcohol so it can’t be all bad 😉

So, what are we going to call it?

There’s been debate. There’s been a lot of debate. We started out, I assume like most people setting forth on this kind of venture

“We’ll name it after a water bird. We’ll name it after a plant. We’ll name it after an aquatic insect”

All very good, fitting and likable. Until you find out that hundreds of other boats had done just that. There seems to me that you have to have some semblance of uniqueness. So, we started to find ever more obscure names, references to old things we liked and eventually were grabbing at tenuous links that basically didn’t hold water. There have been ‘We’re calling it this’ 24 hour periods, followed closely by ‘Err, maybe not’ moments. Other people like to get in on the act as well which brings in a whole new dimension. Answering the first thing people are going to ask isn’t easy. Here is a summary of the naming list we went through


  • Daisy
  • Lilly Pad
  • Little Wren
  • Dandelion
  • Bramble
  • Blue Bell
  • Marsh Marigold (least common)

(All too commonly used)

Popular Culture

  • Gandalf (one of my favorite contenders)
  • Rivendell
  • Lothlorien
  • Galadriel
  • Last Hope
  • Only Hope (sounded too desperate)
  • That’s No Moon!
  • Spirit Walker (The Cult)
  • Nostromo (we both loved this)
  • Not a Number (contender)


  • Alimentary (canal)
  • Wide Berth
  • It’s a Floater
  • Motor Pike (inspired)
  • Stoat Boat
  • Weasel Warrior
  • Down the Hatch (bound to have been used)


  • Diesel Easel
  • Without a Paddle
  • Low and Behold

Narrowing it down

  • Inner Space
  • In Search of Space (almost had this – after Hawkwind)
  • Godspeed
  • Gandalf (oh, have I already said this one?)
  • Close to the Edge (Yes?)

And finally

  • Out of the Blue

Decisions, Decisions

We decided upon ‘Out Of The Blue’ only to have it scuppered by seeing a narrowboat called just that in a drive past on a video on YouTube, the very next day. So, back to the drawing board.

Luckily, the drawing board was still up, covered in scribbles and doodles and a name that we had both liked all along, bubbled to the surface again: ‘In Search Of Space’. A quick search across the Internet showed there weren’t 643 other narrowboats named he same and a pact was made; It is going to be called In Search Of Space? But it isn’t.

No, we’ve fallen back into ‘Out Of The Blue’. It just feels like ‘Out Of The Blue’. Sometimes you just can’t be that unique (sorry to anyone else who has called their boat this. We hope you’ll understand).

The reason?

It’s a blue narrowboat, people will see it coming ‘out of the blue’ of the water and that Roxy Music track is just sublime but mainly, it’s just that the idea came ‘Out of the Blue’ and we are following it to its conclusion. We now have an answer to the first thing people are going to ask.

Roxy Music | Country Life | Track 4: Out of the Blue | (Ferry, Phil Manzanera)


Reflections image


This was a question post, one of the several ‘big topic’ questions that get asked of all narrowboaters – see here for another.

rp – peace and narrowboats