Installing the Name and Hailing Port
This page was last updated on 29 April 2009

With only a few days before launch, the time arrived to install the new name and port on the transom.   Technically (and superstitiously) I suppose we should wait for an official renaming ceremony.  However,  that occurs in the water, and I sure didn't want to put the name on with the boat in the water.

Some time ago, we had decided on the typestyle for the name.  Heidi had ideas, and searched to find the font that matched the image in her head.  It ended up being Diner (at least in Word 2000).  She wanted something that flowed, but wasn't too script-y.  I like it.

The only choice for boat names is vinyl, in my opinion--it looks better, lasts longer, and is easier to apply than paint.  Plus, replacement of a damaged letter or whatever is so easy.  It's also less expensive.  I went to my local sign maker (Joe at Graph-X Signs in Cumberland, ME).  I have purchased several boat names from him before, and he also lettered my truck.  However, we ran into a small problem:  he didn't have the Diner font on his computer.  I ended up loading the font onto a floppy disc and bringing it over, and he was then able to load it onto his machine and incorporate it into his graphics program.  It sounds easy here, but this whole process took a few hours spread over a couple days, between running around, searching for the font on his machine, etc.  It all worked out in the end, though, and after a couple more days the cut vinyl was ready for me to pick up.

We chose gold leaf with a white outline--a classic look.  This means that the name comes in two pieces--the white part, and the gold part.  Combining the two pieces was something I had not done before--other two-color graphics I have had done were pre-assembled (so to speak) before delivery.  Plus, I had wanted the name cut on an arc.  While I hoped for a small arc to remain when the name was installed, the main reason for this was to accommodate the curvature of the transom.  If you put a flat piece of paper on a curved transom, the ends come up, creating a dumb-looking upwards smiley curve.  I wanted the name to appear at least straight and level, with a slight downward arc.  With the chosen font, and the size desired, the vinyl paper was not large enough, so Joe had to cut a few letters separately, for separate installation.  Describing this makes it all sound much more complicated than it actually is--it seemed that way to me at first too.  Once I got into the installation, though, it was all clear.  Read on.

Before beginning, I laid the name and hailport out on a table and drew reference lines through the vertical centerline, and a straight horizontal line between the "g" and the "o" on the name--remember, the cut name was arced, so this was the only horizontal reference there was.  Joe had previously told me that the bottom of the "g" and the "o" were level with one another.

name1.jpg (37260 bytes)First, I taped the full white part of the name up on the transom and figured out the proper positioning.  This took some measuring, but more important was eyeing it from several distances to see if it looked right.  The name is more visible through the paper in person than it shows in the photo.
name2.jpg (40832 bytes)When I had the positioning right, I put some masking tape on the transom and made a few reference marks for repositioning the name during installation.  Then, I removed the name and sprayed a transfer solution all over the transom (basically soapy water).  This allows the vinyl to be moved around and repositioned as needed without it sticking instantly.  I removed the backing paper from the name and stuck it up, lining up the reference marks from before.  I had to do a little lifting and repositioning to get it right.  After a quick check of the position from the ground, I squeegeed over the name with a plastic squeegee, pushing all the liquid and air from beneath the letters.  I did this a few times, ensuring that the letters were firmly adhered. Note that the "g" is a separate piece--as mentioned above, it was cut off a little on the first sheet, so  a new letter was cut, along with the "li", which were used to properly position the "g".  Before squeegeeing the "g", I removed the cut one, and replaced it with the new one, as seen in the photo.   

name3.jpg (55744 bytes)After a few minutes of drying time, I carefully removed the transfer paper, and then went over the area and each letter with a soft towel to further press them into place.  Now the white background was done.

name4.jpg (45004 bytes)Next, I basically repeated the process with the gold leaf, although I cut the name into manageable sections of 3 letters each.  I sprayed the area with the transfer solution, and positioned the gold on top of the white, leaving a consistent thickness of outline showing on all sides.  It was easy to move the letters around as needed, so positioning was no problem.  Then, I squeegeed each letter as before.  When all letters were on, I removed the clear transfer paper after several minutes.

name5.jpg (50972 bytes)With the name complete, I followed the same basic process with the hailport. After two applications, the port was complete.


With the name complete, the project suddenly seemed startlingly real, and close to completion.


UPDATE:  April 2009

After repainting the boat during the winter, I needed to redo the name and hailport.  I made some changes this time to update and improve the appearance, as well as reflect a change in the boat's sailing location that had occurred since the original graphics went on in 2001.

Earlier, during the winter, I'd done some work online and found several fonts that I liked, and dabbled around with a photo of the boat's transom and some Photoshopping to superimpose the various choices on the "boat".  Eventually, we narrowed down to one final choice. 

Several months went by while I just couldn't manage to find the time to get to a local shop to have the new vinyl made up.  Eventually, the pending launch date dictated that I get this done.  Armed with my printed mockups of the boat's transom and the font I'd chosen (for which I didn't know the name), I visited Clark Signs and Graphics, which was about as nearby as anything, and ordered the new graphics.  It took a couple emailed proofs and minor manipulations to get the proposed look the way I wanted it, after which the new vinyl was made up in short order by the friendly folks at Clark's. 

Once again, I chose gold leaf vinyl with a white outline--a classic choice.  I chose a different look than the original graphics, which over time I had found I liked less and less, and which I had generally always found to be too large--my own fault for choosing the size in the first place.  I'd been threatening to make some changes to the look of the name for years, but it never had happened, as I kept thinking that "next year" I'd paint the boat, etc.  Plus, for two years I'd had the wrong hailport on the stern.

Well, this year I finally painted the boat, and the time to change the graphics had arrived. This time I wanted the name to be better proportioned to the size of the transom.  Additionally, I scaled down the size of the hailing port, with no intentions (nor possibility) of documenting the boat and therefore no need to use huge 3" lettering for the port.

Even though I'd spec'd the overall length of the new name (about 30", which I determined after mocking things up on the transom), when I picked up the vinyl it seemed tiny on the table at the graphics shop.  I worried briefly that I'd made a mistake.  Fortunately, when I got back to the boat I could see that it was what I wanted and I shouldn't have doubted myself.

I spent a few hours installing the vinyl.  I'd simply ordered the vinyl cut straight, without an arc, but to install on a curved transom I'd need to do some layout to ensure that the name didn't form a smile shape, which flat vinyl will do on a curved surface.

So I spent a bit of time determining an appropriate location for the base of the letters, and then marked out a baseline on the transom that followed the slight curve of the deck camber above.  This gave the name a subtle arc when installed.  To make the letters follow the line I'd laid out, I cut the vinyl mask between the letters as needed before installing.  I applied some tape to hold the letters in their general arc, which was nice for taking  a photo to show how much a flat name needs to be curved to appear more or less straight (or with a subtle arc) on the transom, but the tape proved to be an annoyance during installation, as I needed to manipulate the letters individually, and ended up cutting the tape as I went.

Finally, I installed the name and squeegeed it out.


Next, I marked a similar line further down the transom for the hailport.  This time, however, I marked the baseline so that it was level from side to side.  After mocking up and cutting the mask as needed, I installed the hailport as well.


I went back and forth for some time on whether to include an apostrophe in Buck's Harbor.  Observation over time had indicated that it was common to see it both with and without the punctuation on other boats' transoms, in cruising guides and other writings, and in other sundry locations.  Complicating the inconsistency further was the fact that the NOAA chart for the area indicated that it should be Bucks Harbor, without the apostrophe.  In the end, I chose to use an apostrophe because all correspondence from the town and specifically the harbormaster used it--if it's good enough for the harbormaster, then I decided it would be how I should spell it. 

Such are the important issues with which I wrestle.

Here is a comparison of my Photoshop mockup with the actual lettering.  I will get better pictures of the name once the boat is outdoors in natural light.


Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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