How Did I Get In This Position While Boat Lettering?

Hatteras Name BoardRecently I lettered a boat that was in the water at a marina near me. Many times a boat lettering job is simple enough, only requiring that I kneel on the swim step at the stern of the boat, but this particular 61′ Hatteras needed new lettering on both name boards, which were located quite high on the boat both port and starboard. I have a clear understanding of why the marinas require me to have a million dollar insurance policy, because the access to these name boards was downright dangerous.

There was a slope on each side of fiberglass on the boat, so steep that I could not even set a pencil upon as it would slide right off. I looked down on one side and there was the water, and I considered where I might swim to if I fell, and since there were no ladders around, how long it might take for someone to hear my cries for help. On the port side, I would have fallen hard on the dock. This was the more threatening of the two evils. There was nothing to tie off to on either side, so with a deep breath and focused concentration, I dawned my work belt and slipped over the railings to the targeted area. It was slippery and it was steep. First I had to remove the old lettering, using a razor to get the old vinyl off, and I found some of the paint was blistered underneath it so I knew I would be making yet another trip to each name board to touch up the paint. I kept having to remind myself to breathe as I worked, placing the remains of the old vinyl in a plastic bag tied to my side. The tricky part came next, carrying a small can of black paint and a brush, inching my way out to each board, and touching up the old paint. The paint I use is oil-based, the boat is of course all white, and I did not want to let a drop touch that white surface. It was a success! Next I had to go out with the new vinyl. The challenge here was to stretch far enough to reach the forward end of the name boards, and get some solid pressure on the vinyl to assure its adherence. One side, and then the other. I did this barefooted as my feet gave me the best traction on the fiberglass surface.

It took all I had to get these two name boards lettered, which had they been removed would have taken all of twenty minutes to remove the old and replace with the new vinyl. Instead it involved about an hour and a half, and a huge amount of energy, as though I was only holding on by the sheer force of my will. This is one area where my stubbornness pays off; when faced with a challenge such as this, I force myself to go against my fear of heights, fear of falling, fear of failing.

It was another successful job in the world of boat lettering.

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