Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vinyl Boat Name Installation (finally)

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may remember this post, in which I complained about a "dreaded box" that has not been able to find its way off the boat.  The box's contents consisted of our starboard side vinyl boat name lettering - the port side Ma'alahi was installed in June of 2011.  The reason (excuse) I had for delaying the installation of the starboard side name was that we would have to move the boat.

Because the weather this last weekend was absolutely perfect (and it was the WEEKEND OF GETTING THINGS DONE) T and I moved the boat to the slip next to us while the kids were napping (nope... didn't even need to start the engine - huge hassle right?)

When I installed the name on the port side of the boat, the process was new to me and somewhat intimidating.  If I recall correctly, the lettering itself cost about $200, and I felt pressure to install it perfectly because it is permanent (guaranteed for 10 years) and expensive. 

Because this was the WEEKEND OF GETTING THINGS DONE, I met the project head on.  I finished the installation in about 1 1/2 hours (compared to the 4-5 hours it took me to install the port side).  I didn't over analyze or over think it and it turned out nice.

Here is the step by step process that I followed:

I ordered Ma'alahi to cover the approximate area of the old boat name, "The Cheryl Lea III".  If you look at the hull at an angle, you can see where the old name was.  I taped off the area of the old name as a guide for placing the new decal.

Next, I taped the first decal layer (gray shadow) to the hull.  Because the decal is large, I applied a long piece of tape in the middle of "Ma'" and "alahi" so that I could apply the shadow in two pieces.  I then cut between the "Ma'" and the "alahi" so that I could handle the decal more easily. 


To apply the decal to the hull, I removed the tape from the section of lettering I was preparing to apply (up to the long vertical piece of tape) and separated the decal from the backing paper and cut the backing paper along the vertical piece of tape (it is useful to have an extra pair of hands when doing this).

From here, holding the decal firmly, I squeegeed outward away from the vertical tape, pressing the decal firmly against the hull and proceeding slowly to avoid bubbles.

Squeegeeing the "a'" - (not following my own directions)
Once the first half of the section is installed, I removed the vertical piece of tape, separated the decal from the decal backing and squeegeed the remaining decal from the center outward in the same manner.

Fully squeegeed "Ma'"
Once a section is completely "squeegeed" to the hull, you can remove the top layer slowly (revealing the actual decal) and at a sharp angle (as to avoid pulling the decal away from the hull). 

Revealing the "Ma'"
Gray background/shadow installation complete.
That was the easy part.

Because our "Ma'alahi" decal was larger than normal (it doesn't seem larger than normal to me... but that is what the graphic designer from BoatUS told me when he called to confirm my order), the navy lettering came separate from the background.  I did not think this would be a big deal but it created a bit of a challenge.  Because the decal backing paper is thick, I could not see where I was placing the top navy layer in relation to the gray shadow.

I was able to place the top navy layer accurately by doing two letters at a time and by cutting around the actual vinyl decal (very close to the edges in areas) so that I could could determine where the edges of the gray background were located.

Placement:  not an exact science.

And, finally, the finished product:

The manufacturer's instructions advise using an exacto knife, needle, or pin to pop bubbles under the vinyl that form during installation and cannot be squeegeed out.  I did not need do this because the decal went on smoothly. 

Best of all - I got rid of the "dreaded box" that has had a home aboard the boat for almost a year. 

If you are choosing to tackle this project as a "DIY" project - good luck!  The extra work was worth the savings (vs. paying someone to do it).  The best advise I have is to not over think the process - just do it.

Good Luck!

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