Houd Vast: What’s in a name?

When it came to naming our new sailboat, Nick and I wanted something meaningful and unique. We tossed around a few names, but some time went by and nothing really grabbed our attention.

Nick and I were in Wisconsin visiting our families when we were struck by inspiration. I was reading a book I checked out at the library, which ended up being a different book with the same name as the one I intended to rent. It was a horrible detective-crime drama that I never finished reading but an exchange between the two main characters in the early chapters eventually led us to our boat’s name.

In the book, the hero describes the Hold Fast tattoos on the hands of the sailors he came across at the docks as a young man. Those sailors spent their days at sea and when the skies became dark and the waves crashed aboard, they had to grip the ship’s rigging and hold fast, or tight, to avoid being swept overboard. In time, hold fast came to mean more to them; it became their mantra to hold fast to life and everything that they valued.

The importance of holding fast to the things that matter most really resonated with me. I immediately told Nick about it and jumped on the Internet to find out more.

A quick search revealed that hold fast was originally derived from the Dutch phrase “houd vast” (pronounced how-d vah-st), which simply means “hold on tight”.

I’ve mentioned before that Nick’s grandmother emigrated from the Netherlands, and her Dutch customs and traditions were a special part of his upbringing. So the name Houd Vast met all of our criteria for our boat’s name  – it was nautical, uncommon, reflective of family heritage, and had strong personal meaning to us.


While hanging on tight to the boat is good advice for any novice sailor, like those old sailors in the book, to Nick and me, Houd Vast will always be a good reminder to hold fast and tight to the important things in our life: our dreams and goals, family and friends, and the love we have for one another.


P.S. If you are looking for a laugh, Boat US has compiled a list of the most popular boat names annually for the past three decades. 


2 thoughts on “Houd Vast: What’s in a name?

  1. Pingback: Bringing Houd Vast Home | Isn't It Sweet

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