The Correct Font And Look Is Critical In Classic Boating – It’s Worth A Trip!

Classic Boat lettering 3

Yip Yap was lettered all by hand, and a font used by the artist Kaptain Krunch, not out of a book.

As a designer,  I bristle when I see the wrong font on a boat or on reproduction stuff. To the un trained eye, you sometimes can’t tell the difference, it just won’t feel right, and to some, its like pink lipstick on the Mona Lisa. It screams wrong. Like these two Texaco Marine signs.

texaco Orig Texaco Sign New

One is real, the other is wrong. Can you see the difference? It’s in the font. Designers spent weeks/months designing fonts and many are reminiscent of the time they were designed in. Some are new made to look old, which by the way is even worse. On your boat, in most cases the correct font on your transom was in fact a hand lettered font, and would have slight variables since they were painted on, or Gold leafed. Our beloved Woody Boats are all about the art of imperfection, the type being a vinyl gold leaf mess just doesn’t fit, on either application or the font its self. Sorry, find good folks to letter is now a fine art, and lettering guys who are at the top of there game will actually be hired to fly out to a car or boat to do it right. Such is the case with one of our favorite guys. Alan Johnson is all over the US doing jobs that require his perfection.

S/W Ver: 9E.03.3AR

Alan was the only guy Seth Katzs trusted on the Thayer IV job. It’s perfect.

Or Noel Weber in Idaho who does insane cool stuff.

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Visit Noel’s site, its insane nice

Or John Grenier from up in the Hessel Area gets it big time with his simple approach.

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Some of Johns Work!

Fellow Wood Boater and pal Sheila  A 2 Z Sign Studio also has been doing this for some time.

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Sheila doing her thing

So if you live in an area that is a waste land of lettering. Get on the road, or find the guy you like and fly him out to you. Its worth it in the end for sure. Today if you love your lettering guy, post his or her name and location in the comment section. Generally links get put in a Que for me to clear, so don’t be surprised if it waits.

29 replies
  1. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Sign painters are fascinating to watch – absolutely amazing skills! Think he’s gone now, but Jake Dixson used to letter my family’s race cars. He could lay down a beautiful stripe while holding a conversation, barely looking at what he was doing. He would save his vacation days & spend the month of May lettering cars at Indy. Did our neighbor’s boat too.

  2. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    Unfortunately this seems to be a dying art. I pulled a friend of mine out of retirement to to do one more job for me. He worked as a sign painter in Buffalo for many years until the sign company let all the painters go because of all the computer cookie-cutter vinyl graphics programs out there now.
    To me a hand painted job is so much better than something done by a soulless computer. Old school is the way to go.

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      Speaking of “OLD SCHOOL” here is the gold leaf job I had done by the Sign Factory, in Grand Haven, MI

  3. John Stolte
    John Stolte says:

    Sorry to say Kaptain Krunch has lost his touch. He did my boat last year and screwed it up. Has to be redone.

  4. Gary
    Gary says:

    You are right on all points -no pun.
    Too figure out the font that was followed is not happening. Does anyone have an ideas about the fonts CC & GW followed?
    When I rebuilt my engine they had put their name on each side of the pan. Amazing!

  5. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Ed Fairchild from Holland MI. had an artist he used to help me create the right font and placement of the “REAL” gold Leaf name on “Lyman Tyme”. Ed, name that lady, please…

      • Dennis Mykols
        Dennis Mykols says:

        I just notice that this picture was of my Lyman AFTER I sold it, and the new owner simply changed the hailing port. I guess he liked the name and lettering job, also…

  6. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    in the 70’s and 80’s I thought I was good enough to letter my own boats, and while they were not bad, my eye could tell that it was done buy a smuck, and just a little off, if you know what I mean. To this day I enjoy cruising marinas looking at names on transoms, and wonder “what the story is”, behind that name. Also picking out the “not quite right” lettering font, or lettering job…

  7. Ron Y.
    Ron Y. says:

    Hand lettered gold leaf with bottle green outline in a classic font by an artist of days past..( Shown )…. .Couldn’t duplicate it for years, we went with no name on the stern …. We found the font again in Vinyl! at a Canadian site, thought we would try it …with a red outline -looks outstanding.

  8. Ron Y.
    Ron Y. says:

    We got the same font we wanted, matches our side lettering from 1996; in honor of the old school guy that did it back then …..The red outline matches our updated water line…..

  9. Derk Brill
    Derk Brill says:

    Noel Weber, out of Boise, ID applying the final touches to Fin & Tonic’s transom graphic. I don’t think there is anyone who could have done it better!

  10. Don Vogt
    Don Vogt says:

    right you are, Matt. there is an entire discussion about how to pick an appropriate font in boat buzz, the chris craft antique boat club website.

    Fred Bush in Seattle does great work.

  11. ian
    ian says:

    Up in Canada in the Muskoka region we have Pat Doran in Milford Bay who still does a great job lettering boats. He is retired but if you give him a call 705-706-5809 he might do the job for you.

    • Champagne Taste
      Champagne Taste says:

      In Toronto, I found Chris ‘Square’D Sullivan (squarepin on Instagram) on Kijiji. After I sanded down the original name, he reapplied the gold leaf and painted the letters again. He also painted the name on a model to match. Chris’ website is linked.

  12. charley quimby
    charley quimby says:

    I had Ruth Collins hand-letter my 16-foot Special Race Boat “Miss Miami V” to duplicate the way it looked in the forties. It was exactly as shown in the original old photos, a spot-on job. She also hand-lettered the registration numbers. Did a beautiful job as well on “Grumpy” a 26-foot APBA. If you are in the Solomons-Annapolis area, she is the one to contact. CQ

  13. Ron in Seattle
    Ron in Seattle says:

    In the Pacific Northwest, Nancy Anderson, Sure Rite Signs.
    She made up her own font for my boat!

  14. Capt. Mike
    Capt. Mike says:

    Leave the peel and press letters and the computer generated uber fonts to the plastic boat parade. An imperfect woody with imperfect hand laid lettering equals a perfect ride!

  15. Texx
    Texx says:

    A message from California:

    “Hi Matt, John here from ASAP Dave/John Maddox Reno fame. We had to replace the transom on the Hacker and in the process gave her a new name and Dwain did the lettering in the right way. Dwain’s Custom Lettering in the San Fernando Valley/Los Angeles area is as old school as it gets. Dwain has been lettering boats, race cars, planes, trucks, trailers, safes, etc. for next to 40 years. 818-398-6470

  16. Charles J
    Charles J says:

    Jerry Le Compte of Dockside Boat Works, Easton MD is my guy for boat work, he uses a guy for lettering; I think it’s shaping up nicely.

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