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Boat Lettering FAQs

When you register your boat in Maine, you're going to need boat lettering.

The name of your boat and it's hailing port should be visible on the stern (back) of your boat. The boat registration number goes nearer the bow (front).


The regulations are fairly lenient on letter style when it comes to the boat name. For the registration numbers, however, you'll want to choose a clean, easy to read font that is viewable from a distance. We recommend three-inch letters, in a color that is high contrast to the area where the lettering will be applied.



Here are a few of the most common questions we hear in regards to boat lettering:


Q: How long does it take?

A: Registration numbers can typically be picked up within 24 hours. If you'd like us to apply them for you, try to give us as much notice as possible. It can, at times, take up to two weeks to work an install project into the schedule.


Q: What can I do to ensure the speediest service possible?

A: For fastest service, have an idea of the letter style you'd like to use. You'll need to choose a color for your graphic, and if there are any size restraints, we'll need to know what they are. Photos are always helpful, especially if we're installing the graphics.


Q: How much does it cost?

A: Standard registration numbers are $40 a pair. Boat name and hail can vary greatly, depending on the size and materials used. Please call or email for an accurate estimate.


Q: How long will it last?

A: That ultimately depends on how much sun the graphic is exposed to, as well as how much abuse it gets on the water. We use high-performance vinyl graphics that are made to last. We expect a minimum of 6 years for most of our products, and we've seen them last twice that long.


Q: Do you remove old lettering?

A: Yes.

Ghosting will likely remain once the old decal has been removed. Ghosting is what happens when we remove a decal and expose the shiny clearcoat beneath. The sun has faded the clearcoat (and possibly paint) around the decal, and what's left is what we refer to as the "ghost image" of the previous graphic.

If this is bothersome to you, we recommend at least buffing and possibly clear coating between the old decal removal and new decal application. Buffing will take down the glossiness left behind the old graphic, and is enough to look good in most cases. We offer a buffing service.

If you paint, you'll want to leave time for the paint to outgas, or it can cause the new decals to fall off. We recommend at least 2 weeks. We do not paint boats.


Q: Do you install on the water?

A: Yes, sometimes, and it's going to cost you more. Installing on the water presents many challenges. For the best quality install, we recommend your boat be on dry land. There are some instances where we simply can't install on the water. Give us a call or email to discuss the details of your project.


If you have any questions that aren't referenced here, let me know! You can email me at ashley@signsmith.com



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