Vinyl Wrap: A New Look for an Older Lady!
Kathy and I purchased Pau Hana in September 2012. She is a 52’ Overseas Cockpit Motor Yacht, and she is our home. We have had a great time cruising and entertaining friends and family all around Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. As she is of 1989 vintage, with trips from Seattle to California and Alaska under her belt, she is also starting to show her age a bit with faded gelcoat and the usual dock rash that is typical on a 27-year-old vessel.
I figured that a professional cut and buff may be the ticket to revive the gelcoat and give her back a youthful shine. Close to $1,000 later, she looked better, but we wanted more. After several quotes from painting contractors that ranged from $30k to $45k, we put that project on the back burner until August 2016. The Clipper Around the World Race made a visit to Seattle, and I noticed that the boats were vibrantly colored with the logos of their corporate sponsors and graphic designs. Something clicked in my head, and I went on a research binge. I found that wrapping vessels is a popular and commonplace alternative to paint, not just with the bass boat and center console communities, but also with larger power and sailboats across Europe.
Well, why not here and on our larger boat? I called Brad Cole at Prism Graphics in Seattle and inquired about his interest in this type of project. Turns out, Brad repaired the wrap on one of the Clipper racers, and was excited to jump in and wrap our boat.
Vinyl wrap is used day in and day out on boats, as it adorns most of our vessels in the form of names, hailing ports, and registration numbers. The advertising industry has taken to wrapping cars, buses, trucks, and more to sell products, services, and inform the public about the newest thing we must have. In recent years, vinyl wrap has become a popular alternative to paint on cars. The durability of wrap is well documented, as is its colorfastness. Finally, removal is easy and has no impact on the underlying substrate.
We discussed options with Brad, and agreed that the wrap would be only on the lower part of the hull, from the rub rail to the waterline. I scheduled to have Pau Hana hauled out at CSR Marine in Ballard, WA, and get the project underway.
Prior to haul out, I removed the rub rail from the perimeter of the boat and gave her multiple washes- first warm water with Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove salt and any oils or grease on the hull surface, then rinse. The hull was then wiped down completely with alcohol to remove waxes and polishes. Next, I went over the hull and repaired minor imperfections in the gelcoat.
Now that Pau Hana was on the hard, I got busy and removed all the surface fittings- the various tank vents, engine air covers, and power inlet covers. She then got a final prep wipedown with alcohol.
Now, Brad and his crew got to work. The guys started at the transom, so the seams would overlap with the flow of water and wind. They next proceeded up the sides. Brad and crew worked late into the nights, and after three days, we were transformed. The finishing touch was a cream-colored boot stripe to offset the Indigo blue wrap. The next morning, we put her back in, highly impressed with the results.
Our total haul out was one week on the hard, versus two to four months for a similar paint job. Total cost (haul out, wrap, etc.) was a third of what we were quoted for paint. The boat looks absolutely stunning, and we have received many compliments on the wrap. Should the wrap be damaged, repair is as easy as cutting out the damaged area and installing a replacement piece of vinyl, about a 15-minute job.
Best of all, the color wrap and underwater lights (added as a snap decision) thoroughly modernize the look of the boat and add the perfect element of elegance to a timeless lady. By no means is this a linear polyurethane finish, nor is it meant to be. It is an inexpensive, amazingly effective alternative to traditional paints for both older and newer boats. I thoroughly believe that vinyl wrap will become a big player as a viable choice in yacht finishes.
The finishing touch will be the new Tessilmare Radial 62 rub rail (Tides Marine, 954-420-0949) that will be installed in the spring, after the upper cap rail is painted. Wish us luck! If you’re interested in vinyl wrap for your boat, you can give Prism Graphics a call at 206-282-1801, or learn more about them at prismgraphics.com.