Originally Posted by rlltrash
... In addition, it appears that the larger a boat is, the more likely it will have a name. (I guess there are USCG requirements at some point.)
So, should I give a name to my 1985 Holder 20?
That's probably because larger boats that cruise tend to be USCG documented rather than state registered.
Naming your boat (or not naming it) is up to you as a boat that size probably won't be documented. It is helpful, as others pointed out, when needing to radio for help. However, just in case, here is the rule for naming a documented vessel:
Documented vessels do not display their official numbers on the outside of the hull, but are identified by the name and hailing port. The application for documentation must include a name for the vessel composed of letters of the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals and may not exceed 33 characters. The name may not be identical, actually or phonetically, to any word or words used to solicit assistance at sea; may not contain or be phonetically identical to obscene, indecent, or profane language, or to racial or ethnic epithets. Once established, a vessel's name may not be changed without application, fees, and the consent of the Director, National Vessel Documentation Center. There is no rule against duplication of names for documented vessels, so hailing ports are helpful in identifying vessels.
From the USCG FAQ page
on vessel documentation.