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The name of the game

HANALEI  – Parents experience the anxiety of choosing the ideal name for their child. 

Car owners anguish over the perfect vanity plate. 

Then there’s naming a boat. 

Some Kauai boat-owners decided their vessels’ identities on a number of factors: Like spacecrafts on water or a treasured family pet.

Meet Niche.

It’s a big orange and blue boat named after a dog that loved expensive, raw fish.

”Niche used to love chasing rats and eating sashimi,” said Niche’s owner, Androdes Handy of Kapaa, who uses the boat to fish with his 6-year-old son, Hunter, for ono and mahi mahi. “We adored Niche’s mother, Kocheehe, named after a great mediator, huntress and peacemaker.”

The Boat Owners Association of The United States keeps a running tally of the top boat names nationwide. Winners in the national boating organization’s 24th annual Top 10 Boat Names List include: Serenity, 

Second Wind, Island Girl, Freedom, Pura-Vida, Andiamo, Island Time, Irish Wake, Happy Hours and Seas the Day.

Thany Blue didn’t make that list, but that’s the name of Tommy Rozsa’s boat. The Kapaa boat owner is an avid fisherman and it allows him to explore his favorite spot — the sea.

“The ocean is my backyard playground,” Rozsa said. “There’s nobody there to bother me when I go out alone.”

Normally, he has good luck on the boat named after his 5-year-old son, Nathaniel.

Alas, the luck doesn’t always last, as Rozsa just missed out on a prized catch when he spoke to The Garden Island.

“I think it was either a tuna or marlin” Rozsa said. “It broke the line.”

Brit Sander’s oftentimes mans the boat named, “UFO,” on the river in Hanalei.

Of course the boat doesn’t fly, but it’s not named after spacecrafts. 

“The guy that built the boat didn’t have a mold,” Sander’s said. “It means a lot of different things, I think, but it is an unidentified floating object.”

Even some people who don’t own boats have an idea what they’d name one. It’s a little like thinking up baby names for expecting parents or imagining what you’d name your racehorse, if you could afford one.

“I’d name my boat Sea Breeze after my grandfather’s business,” said Mario Lott, who doesn’t own a boat of his own. “It was a nightclub.”

Others hold off until they have the thing in hand.

”I used to live part time on a boat in Minnesota,” Melissa Olstad of Kekaha said. “I’ve been on a wait list for a slip at Nawiliwili four years now. I’ll wait to name my next boat until after I buy it.”

Mel Wills, operations manager for Holo Holo Charters, has owned 15 boats during his lifetime. “Milia,” which means, “A sense of calm,” is the name of his current vessel. He said there’s a proper protocol to boat naming that must be followed.

“There’s a superstition that you don’t change the name of a boat once it’s been christened and Milia was our boat’s name when we bought it,” Wills said. 

Wills, who crewed and won the races while aboard the Horizon in two Trans Pacific Yacht races, remembers when he manned an eight-foot dinghy as a teenager.

“I cut off the back end to make the boat lighter and go faster,” remembered Wills. “I named it ‘Half Fast.’”

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