Friday, March 16, 2018


When I arrived at the boat back in January, I had a list of tasks I needed to accomplish and more that were discovered once on board.  At this point all of them have been accomplished and the boat is once again in good cruising condition. One of the things that I didn't expect but found when I got to the boat was the extreme fading of the vinyl boat name graphic.  After only four years, the name was nearly unreadable.

How the boat name looked when I arrived.
The interesting thing is that, while the name was almost completely faded, the hailing port lettering still looked fine.  When I ordered the lettering, I had them add a UV protective film to the lettering and my first thought was that maybe they applied the UV film to the hailing port letters but forgot to apply it to the boat name.  That would certainly account for the vast difference in the fading.

I decided to contact the supplier of the vinyl lettering and ask them if this could have been the case.  When they responded, they explained to me that, since my boat name lettering had a drop shadow of a different color, it was made differently than the single color hailing port lettering.  The former is created by printing the colors onto a white vinyl substrate while the latter is made from a solid color vinyl. The printed vinyl seems to only have a 3 to 5 year lifespan in outdoor applications (even when the UV protection is applied) while the solid color vinyl can last much longer. So, if you are ever in the need of vinyl lettering for long-term outdoor use, this is something to keep in mind...less you experience the same result as I did.

As an effort to make up for the confusion and my disappointment in the name lettering, they offered to send replacement lettering to me for half-off their normal price.  When I told them that I didn't want a repeat experience, they said they could send me letters made from the solid color vinyl in both the primary and drop shadow colors. That way I could apply the drop shadow color letters and then apply the main color letters at an offset to get the same effect.  For an additional fee they offered to align the two sets of letters onto a single application sheet to ease the complexity of the installation.  Since the boat needs a readable name to be a legally documented US vessel, I decided to go ahead and order the two sets of lettering in hopes that their explanation was correct and the new lettering will last.  I did not have them do the alignment.

It only took a few days for the letters to arrive.  While waiting, I removed the faded vinyl lettering using a plastic scraper and heat gun and then cleaned up the glue residue with Goo Gone and denatured alcohol. I made sure to protect the hailing port lettering as I didn't want to cause any problems with it.

In order to get the alignment correct on the boat, I started by attempting to align the two sheets of lettering, using a flashlight to shine through the lettering and backing paper and used a ruler to measure the offset for the drop shadow.  Once I got the alignment the way I wanted it, I used painters tape to hold the two sheets together. Then I used a variation of a sewing trick I learned and cut two V shaped indexing notches at the upper edge of the application sheets making sure the V was cut into both sheets but did not cut into the actual vinyl letters.  By doing this, any time the two V's in the two sheets were aligned the letters would be properly aligned. At this point I could remove the painters tape knowing that I can easily realign the sheets of letters.

From there, I took the yellow letters out and taped them up to the boat, positioning as needed to center over the hailing port sticker while allowing for the slight shift to the lower right for the drop shadow effect.  When I had the letters where I wanted them, I applied two small pieces of tape to the boat directly under the location of the V notches and traced the V into the tape. I then ran a strip of tape along the upper edge of the sheet of letters and applied them to the boat just as I did the last time.  Once I smoothed out the letters as best I could, I removed the application sheet and the large strip of tape so only the yellow letters and the two marked V's remained. I then retrieved the set of blue letters, lined up the V notch with the ones traced onto the tape, and applied the blue letters over the yellow ones. Again I smoothed out the lettering with a squeegee and removed the application sheet and all the tape.

The new lettering, using the two solid color sets of letters.

For reference: Here is what the original looked
like the day it was applied 4 years ago
The end result I think looks just as good as the original did when it was new.  You can see the slight outline of the yellow letters underneath the blue ones, but you have to be very close to even notice.  So, Rover once again has a shiny new name, hopefully this time the lettering will last.


  1. Great to see and hear that you finished all the chores on Rover. Good tip on the lettering. Also who would have thought an engine bracket would be such a problem or cost so much, I think you'd done better cutting it off and going to a welder/fabricator yourself. Did you end up replacing the safety netting? I do hope Rover finds a new owner and you won't have to do another maintenance trip. I did give your blog to a cat owner making a hardtop bimini, Tula's endless summer, he went with one layer 1/2" foam and single fiberglas cloth epoxied on each side. Hope it holds his weight.
    Doug in cold and snowy VT

    1. Hi Doug, I'm glad to be done with the chores as well, but wish I had a bit more time to actually sail the boat. As for the bracket, you are probably of these days I will learn. That top sounds a bit thin, but it depends on the span and supports. I bet it will flex a bit if he intends to walk on it, but hopefully will serve him well.