The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

A Name Can Do A Lot …

So over the last few months, there was a lot of commentary about a new, multi-million pound, British research boat that asked the public for help in choosing its name.

Actually that’s not what the commentary was about, it was the fact that one of the names was the utterly brilliant, Boaty McBoatface.

And guess what … it won!!!


However, despite polling four times as many votes as its nearest competitor, the owners of the boat – the British Government – ended up sinking the name, using this as their justification …

“The new royal research ship will be sailing into the world’s iciest waters to address global challenges that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people, that’s why we want a name that lasts longer than a social media news cycle.”

To be fair, they have a point – especially as the vessel is actually a ship, rather than a boat and Shippy McShipface just doesn’t have the same ring to it – however I still think they’ve made a bad decision.

It is not, as you may think, because the Government have basically just pissed on democracy.

Which they have.

Neither is it that they’ve just failed to embrace the unique wit of the British public.

Which they also have.

It’s because Boaty McBoatface could have potentially helped solve the environmental issues she was built to investigate.

[For the record, boats are always female apparently]

My thinking is that with a name like that, she would have caught the attention of children – and adults – all over the World.

In fact, I could argue she already did.

And if they’d kept that name and harnessed all that attention, children would have wanted to follow Boaty’s journey … they would have taken an active interest in the issues she uncovered and discovered … they would have wanted to help Boaty out and they could have done that by doing the sort of things that slow – or even reverse – environmental decline.

Boaty McBoatface might have actually led to the sort of change in behaviour and attitudes that Earth Hour can only dream about.

I’m serious.

Then there’s the fact that with a name like that, Boaty McBoatface could be made into children’s toys or cartoons to raise even more awareness – not to mention funds – in the fight against environmental damage.

I get it might be a bit weird for the scientists who work aboard her, but I could argue that they would be far happier knowing the ship they’re on is not just getting important data, but actively contributing to awareness and change.

But no. It’s going to be something else.

I’m sure it will be respectful and dignified – they say ‘HMS David Attenborough’ is a leading candidate – and I get it, it definitely makes sense … but it won’t have the same impact or potential reach that Boaty McBoatface would have.

Like the ice bucket challenge showed us, if you have tried for years to change something to no avail, sometimes the most radical decisions are the most sensible.

It appears I am in the rare position to be able to offer the British Government some advice … advice I offer to anyone who challenges my response to one of their questions … and that advice is this.

If you don’t like the answer, don’t ask the question.

The good news is that while the Government may have stopped Boaty McBoatface from officially hitting the high seas, you can be pretty sure that’s how she will be known.

After all, the Ferrari Daytona never really existed – it was the 365 GTB/4 – but when it came 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a race, the media labeled the car the Daytona and the name entered the consciousness of the public and has remained there ever since.

So here’s to Boaty McBoatface and the British public – or at least the ones behind this – I salute your wonderful madness.

29 Comments so far
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I loved following this story and I think your point is a brilliant one. My children were delighted by Boaty McBoatface and many of the other wildly creative names suggested by the public. It’s a shame NERC decided to reject it.

Comment by Sarah Angleton

Thank you Sarah … both for the nice words and for coming on here in the first place.

Sadly the decision makers didn’t seem to think of the broader appeal of ‘Boaty’ but at least David Attenborough is a worthy name, albeit more a symbol than having the potential to also be a solution.

Comment by Rob

I preferred yesterday’s blogpost.

Comment by John

I take that back – I really like your idea and I don’t think the fact that they’ve retained the Boaty McBoatface for one of its unmanned exploration subs allows it to be similarly exploited.

That said, this really is a social media story because when it came across my twitter when maybe 20% of the votes had been cast, it was very clear that they were asking for ideas and the most popular name was no more likely to be chosen than any other. So I’m not sure they were guilty of asking a question they didn’t want to hear the answer to.

Comment by John

Are you giving me a compliment???

Comment by Rob

Brits are fucked up.

Comment by Billy Whizz

not as fucked up as the country that has put a lying, racist, silver spoon fucking bankruptcy bigot in a position to run their fucking country.

Comment by andy@cynic

when you need to make nonsensical shit sound smart, turn to a fucking planner.

Comment by andy@cynic

and before you fucking start crying campbell, its a compliment. i actually like what you fucking said. consider this your birthday present.

Comment by andy@cynic

First John, now you. Is it April 1?

Comment by Rob

But it’s too late cos Google have created Parsey McParseface

Comment by John

I was hoping no one would know that.

Comment by George

you bunch of sad copycat wankers.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh George. Oh no, no, no, no, no.

Comment by Rob

I am innocent.

Comment by George

A truly excellent idea Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

With the ultimate respect to Sir David Attenborough, your suggestion would mean this vessel could actively encourage conservation rather than just be an honour for a conservationist. I miss working with you Robert.

Comment by George

To be fair, Sir David has at least done enough to earn that honour. It could be worse. Much, much worse.

Comment by Rob

Really smart idea. Shame the UK authorities place protocol before pragmatic solutions.

Comment by Pete

You should have tried to make this happen Rob. It’s a great argument and you’d have won every strategy award going with it.

Comment by Bazza


Comment by John

What a brilliant idea Robert.

Comment by Mary Bryant

When your husband cashes out and makes his billions, maybe we can convince him to build another boat so we can do this. What do you say?

Comment by Rob

Appropriate image for the blogpost, definitely. But I definitely prefer Shippy McShipFace.

Comment by Charinee

Anorak fact: Yes, Ferrari had a 1-2-3 finish at Daytona, but it was with three different sports prototypes none of which was a 365GTB/4. They should have called it Racy McBoatrace …

(I’ll get me coat).

Comment by Ian Gee

Well done Insighty McInsight. Love it.

Comment by Charlie Wrench

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