Removing and Applying Vinyl Lettering

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
Nothing makes a boat truly yours like a name

Nothing makes a boat truly yours like a name

We bought a boat, and she’s pretty much the perfect boat for us—comfy, quick and beautiful. However, the name on her transom was not “our” boat’s name. So after much deliberation and discussion, we decided on the right name for our boat. After the appropriate ceremonies were performed, it was time to apply her new moniker.

As on most boats today, the old name had been applied with stick-on vinyl lettering, and I knew getting it off was going to be a pain in the neck. I consulted with Bill MacGowan of Mac Designs in Newport, Rhode Island, who made the boat’s new name out of vinyl, and he provided the answer—hot air and a plastic scraper. I’m pretty good with a heat gun, so I used that to heat up the lettering. You need to be careful though; you can easily ruin gelcoat or paint if you get it too hot. Lots of sailors I’ve talked to say they have had success using a hair dryer. I also used plastic “razor blades” to scrape under the old letters. It was tedious, but a couple of hours later, a sticky residue was all that remained. Some 3M Adhesive Remover and lots of paper towels took care of that. An alternative solvent to try would be Goo Gone.

After the glue was gone, the remains of the hailing port could still be seen on the transom, so I removed what was left with a power buffer and 3M Finesse-It polish. To ensure the new letters bond well, I recommend you not wax the topsides before putting them on.

The author smoothes his boat’s new name with a plastic spreader to remove all air pockets and moisture

The author smoothes his boat’s new name with a plastic spreader to remove all air pockets and moisture

To make sure your name is centered and level, carefully measure down from the rail and mark the points on a horizontal line where you want the name to go. A flexible metal yardstick helps here. Mark the center of the line and then cut and mark the backing and name horizontally and vertically so you can line it up with the marks you’ve made on the hull. The backing for the letters is translucent enough that you’ll be able to see through to line it up with your marks.

You will never be able to stick the name on a dry hull and have it turn out straight, so spray the area with Windex or slightly soapy water. Remove the backing on your name decal, exposing its sticky side, and you’ll be able to slide it around to line it up perfectly.

To get out any air bubbles and make sure the name goes on smooth, use a new smooth flexible plastic spreader to press out air bubbles and wipe away the moisture. Leave the paper covering on for an hour or so to be sure removing it won’t pull up the letters you’ve just put down. If you want to apply a second color, simply repeat the same process. The pencil marks we made came off easily with a little denatured alcohol.

It took some effort, but getting our new name on the boat was worth it. Peregrine is from the Latin for traveler, and is also the name of a swift falcon. Three years after applying the name, it still looks good as Peregrine continues to carry us swiftly to and from our home port.

Photos courtesy of Andrew Burton

Related

Dinghy Suggested CROP

Ask Sail: Dinghy Dilemma

DINGHY DILEMMA Q: We are in the throes of choosing a dinghy, and I would like to ask if you would recommend buying a RIB with a double-skinned hull rather than a single-skinned hull. Which provides better handling or stays drier? Also, aside from the heavier weight of a ...read more

Groupe Beneteau charging its boats in NEOLINE vessel

Transporting Sailboats Under Sail

Transporting sailboats under sail? That sounds like a cool concept, and it’s one that looks set to become reality in 2021 when shipping company Neoline brings its sailing cargo ships into service. Groupe Beneteau has committed to transporting boats between Europe and the United ...read more

01_vor120612_ross_0644

Sailing Master Ken Read

Images trigger memory. Preparing to interview the golden boy of American sailing, I thought I would find a picture that would show Ken Read at the peak of his sailing career, his heyday, to share and have a warm and fuzzy start to our conversation. It was a commanding image from ...read more

New-engine-being-lifted-over-stern

Know how: Replacing the Auxiliary Power System

One of the most complex tasks undertaken during Passion’s refit was the complete replacement of her auxiliary power system—engine, V-drive and fuel tanks. I needed more horsepower, which drove the need for more fuel capacity and a larger V-drive to handle the higher engine ...read more

20190614_131026

Kiwi Spirit Takes Line Honors in Bermuda

Mark Riley’s Farr 63 Kiwi Spirit secured line honors yesterday in the Marion to Bermuda race, finishing off St. David’s Lighthouse at 0227 local time. Francis Seldorff’s Kinship, a Baltic 52, was second in the 40-boat fleet, crossing the line at around 0500. With 18-year-old ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No cracked skulls please Modern boats with aft bathing ladders offer a big advantage when it comes to rescuing crew who have fallen overboard. Not all casualties are basket cases unable to help ...read more

01-Lead-show

France’s Annual Multihull Show

If a boat show could be described as intimate, the annual Salon International du Multicoque in La Grande Motte, on France’s Mediterranean coast, is it. Held in the latter part of April, the multihulls-only in-water show is a boon for builders, because the people who attend come ...read more