Boat lettering may be the last thing you think of when you’re buying a boat. There’s so much to consider already after deciding to make the boat purchase – where to dock it, how to maintain and transport it, insurance, and supplies all are things boat owners must consider. However, boat lettering is also crucial to think about. Just like your car’s license plate identifies your car, the boat lettering on your vessel identifies it, and legally boat lettering must be displayed properly before your boat hits the water.
Boat lettering is important, and what needs to be displayed on your boat varies from state to state. If you don’t know what’s right for your boat, it’s best to ask the local experts and check online with state resources. Local signage stores are often well-equipped to understand boat lettering laws and to help bring your boat up to compliance before you take it out for a spin.
Here are some general guidelines to follow for boat lettering, but remember that you should also check with state resources just to be on the safe side. First, boat lettering should be clearly visible in the forward section of the boat. Registration numbers should be attached on a license plate and should be easily seen by the US Coast Guard or other passing vessels.
Second, boat lettering should be clear, in an easy-to-read font that can be read without struggle from a distance. Pretty fonts can look great, but if the coast guard or other boaters can’t read your boat letters, they’re not doing you any good – both from an aesthetic perspective or from a safety or legal perspective. There are a variety of fonts that are easy to read and attractive too, so be sure to select those typefaces when choosing your boat lettering. In fact, the US Coast Guard states that your boat lettering must be a minimum of three inches tall and use only plain block characters. Additionally, choose a color of font that contrasts from your boat’s color, so the boat lettering can clearly be read without much difficulty.
Third, make sure that your boat lettering is clearly visible on both sides of the boat and reads from the right to the left. This will probably come naturally when you are affixing the boat lettering to the port side of your boat, since you can simply start at the bow and work backwards. However, you may find it more difficult to affix boat lettering on the starboard side. It is simpler than it appears, however – just lay the letters and numbers out in the correct order starting at the bow of the boat, and affix them to your boat with the last number first.
Boat lettering can be intimidating to figure out, but with a signage expert on your side, you can do it! Determining the proper ways to display boat lettering isn’t too confusing and can even be fun. So, work with a local expert, check federal and state guidelines, and then get your boat on the water before summer ends!