Rib Charter Fleet

Why are ships referred to as ‘She’?

Why is it that we refer to boats as ‘she’ and historically have done so throughout the years? Well, after a few Google searches, we found that no one really seems to have a definitive answer. However there are a few proposed theories, below are some of the ones we found: 

  1. Ancient mariners where known as being ‘married to the sea’, often naming their vessels after the women they loved as a compliment to them. Ships would also be named after goddesses and mother figures to play a protective role in looking after the ship and crew. This was why it became common practice for many vessels to have female figureheads to resemble these women. 
  2. Another equally plausible  theory is that it stems from Indo-European languages having ‘male’, ‘female’ and sometimes ‘neuter’ words. English has progressed to using neuter words such as ‘the’ and ‘it’, so by making ships female and referring to them as ‘she’ could be an example of an ancient English speaking practice of giving an inanimate object a gender. 
  3. The more tongue in cheek theory… A ship is called ‘She’ because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; it takes a lot of paint to keep her looking good; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it’s the upkeep; it takes an experienced skipper to handle her correctly without which she is absolutely uncontrollable. When coming into port, always heads for the buoys.

Technically speaking, the Lloyd’s Register now refers to all ships as ‘it’ and it’s becoming more common practice in the industry to do so.