Articles on being visible on the water. Boat Safety
January 6, 2024
Law enforcement decals
New " bright twist" on boat lettering and night safety

New reflective boat lettering can improve your night safety. New battery free flashlights are a must for having backup lighting on your boat when all else fails.

New ultra-bright boat lettering technology combines proven light reflective technology vinyl with the time honored tradition of displaying a boat name on the transom of boats and ships.
In daylight, reflective boat lettering looks like ordinary boat lettering but with deeply enhanced color depth and richness. At night, this lettering reflects your position on the waterway with even the smallest amount of light cast from an approaching boat. Under searchlight, you can see the reflective boat name lettering from miles away under clear night conditions. For maximum conspicuity, reflective boat lettering on the transom along with reflective registration numbers on the sides provides nearly 360 degree visibility. You can also add reflective boat graphics or reflective pin striping in widths up to 2 inches as a color accent to your boat. You can take this further by having a vinyl fabricator custom cut special shapes and designs in multiple colors to fully customize your boat lettering project. One of the most amusing and provocative boat lettering and striping overhauls was done on a pontoon boat called "The Party Hut". This pontoon boat was recently overhauled and all the boat lettering and graphics were custom made by an online vendor. This boat includes custom boat lettering, a palm tree graphic, and stock StreetGlo reflective tape strips available at your local store or online. The Party Hut is an amazing example of how to make really unique designs and boat lettering projects. The Party Hut can be seen at:

For additional night safety precautions, you might want to also check your boat now for the necessary night safety equipment. You should check your flares to make sure they have not become older than the expiration date on the packaging. You should also check out the new "battery free" flashlights to insure you always have a source of light when and if your electrical system should fail. On my boat, I have two of these battery free flashlights - fore and aft. You simply shake these flashlights for 30 seconds and you'll have 5 minutes of light and never worry about keeping your batteries replaced.

With the boating season only a few months away, now is the time to prepare for all those wonderful boating day and nights soon to be upon us boaters.Happy Boating!

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Boat safer - take the US Power Squadrons safety course!

By BIll Aggie

Boating safety is more than just buying the required safety gear,  putting fuel in the tank and heading out to the nearest waterway.   Sure, our reflective boat lettering is a first step but it's only a tiny step.  

I've been a boater for 35 years.  I've taken the US Power Squadrons safety course twice and the CoastGuard Safety Course two times as well.  That's about 1 course every 8 years and even though it's the same stuff basically each time,  I always learn something valuable that could save my life one day!  

The range of emotions for a weekend boat captain can range from tranquility to absolute shock and horror.   I don't care how long you have been boating,  getting caught in a sudden storm on the open sea can be downright terrifying.   Even when you are careful not to venture out in potentially less than favorable weather other surprises can upset your otherwise calm and soothing boat ride.

I'll never for get the wave from "hell" that hit our craft one fine calm  Sunday morning while fishing at the 2nd  island of the Chesapeake bay bridge tunnel.  The water was as calm as I have ever seen.   I remember seeing a navy destroyer coming through the Baltimore channel at a speed that is quite unheard of in these waters.   Even though the destroyer was a good 5 miles away you could see white break water off the bow half way up to the deck.   I remember telling my buddies that captain is going to get in trouble and in fact he did, it was first page news the next morning and rightfully so.  Well, I've been boating a long time and you would think I could have connected the two halves of this story together but --- well...  thank GOD for the Power Squadrons course because in a moment of terror I did what they said to do and it save our lives.

We went on fishing for a while trying to pull some Tautog out of the bridge rock - with our backs to the third island where that destroyer sliced the massive ocean in half heading back to port.    All was quite and it seamed like a great time to catch a fish.. until one of my buddies let out the worst "girlish" scream a man could manage to muster up.  I turn to look at him but instead I saw what appeared to be a 10 ft wall of breakwater waves heading right for us.   It was probably about as horrifying of an event as any mortal man could stand.    I had just enough time to cut our anchor line with a filet knife and swing the bow of the boat towards the wave but I'm not quite sure exactly where I managed to get it.   All I know was we were no longer portside to the wave but somewhat facing towards it.     The boat quickly lifted then whack, the boat cut through the top of the wave as if we were making an intentional effort to shoot through the wave like come kind of USCG rescue boat.  In one instant we were fully in the water and I don't know yet how we made it frankly.   The from the moment I cut the anchor line until the moment I thought we aren't dead --- it's all a blur to me.  All I know for sure is my reaction was one of response and not one of thought.   I did as the safety course would have instructed me even if I must admit it was probably a bit sloppy and my mind was on temporary overload,  I did react and obviously in a way that lets me sit her 15 years later and tell about it.

The point ....   Take the safety courses.  They can save your life!

Bill Aggie

Boat Name Lettering Decals
Getting the most for your money

By Bill Aggie
Streetglo Reflective Decals and Graphics

        No boat is complete without the boat name proudly displayed on the transom.  You can purchase boat lettering in a variety of ways including hand crafted lettering or machine made high quality vinyl.  If you decide to have your boat name hand painted, expect to spend $50.00 to $150.00 for the average two color boat lettering job.  If you want a graphic, plan to spend more.   If you don't mind paying a little more for your boat lettering,  one good source is to search is your boat dealer directly.  Most of them already know the local craftsman and possibly even have a schedule with one.   However, if you want to save a little money,  you can't plotted and cut vinyl boat name lettering.  


Raw Vinyl comes in roughly 5 different grades.  Not all grades are suitable for marine applications.  The grades range from "promotional grade lasting only a few months through the engineering grades at 8 years or longer durability  Just keep in mind that hand painted or cut vinyl boat name lettering will not likely last as long as your boat.   Eventually you will have to replace your boat lettering but later is better than sooner, and that's the purpose of this article.  Of the two types of boat name lettering,  plotted and cut vinyl letters has become the standard today.   The advantages of cut vinyl are lower prices and perfectly cut letters.  They install easily and can be removed, but with some elbow grease.   The primary disadvantage of vinyl boat lettering is the vinyl itself.   Because pricing is very competitive, many sign shops and online boat name decal companies are forced to use cheaper grades of vinyl.  The most important part of buying vinyl boat lettering is understanding the grade of vinyl you will be receiving.


Promotional grade vinyl is extremely inexpensive raw vinyl stock which is normally used only for outdoor banners.  This vinyl has a welcome place in the vinyl banner business whereby expected banner lifetime is rated in months, not years.  This vinyl has no place at all in boat lettering, or for any kind of signage for that matter.   You could believe that no vendor would slip some promotional vinyl into your boat name decal, but you would be wrong.

For any of you that know, I am in the graphics business.  Streetglo manufactures a large line of motorcycle, car and truck graphics.   Before we tooled up for boat name decals, I had to shop for my boat graphics just like everyone else.  Not long ago I ordered a rather large two-color vinyl boat name decal from a vendor on EBay.   It was an amazing deal.  A two color outlined boat name with 6" high letters and 40" wide would normally cost $80.00.  This vendor made the decal for $30.00.  No,  I didn't expect the best grade of vinyl, but the vendor's EBay advertisement indicated it was a high grade of vinyl.  In fact,  he guaranteed it would "look as good as any other boat name".     In all honesty, I should have known better that I wasn't going to get a quality grade of vinyl.   The decal arrived and was immediately inspected.  Frankly, it looked terrific.  It wasn't apparent to me he had used a promotional grade of vinyl.  So I  as installed  the decal and within 3 months it began to break down.  It was suffering with shrinkage and blistering problems. The blistering came from the adhesive breaking down from constant sunlight on the transom of the boat.   In reality I didn't spend $30.00 on a fair decal, I wasted $30.00 plus a few hours of my time when looking back at this bargain.


I repeated the same purchase, but this time with a well-known Internet vendor of signs and boat name decals.   This time the decal cost me $45.00 and the web page clearly indicated I was getting "marine grade vinyl 5 year vinyl".  They did state on the web page an expected lifetime of 5 to 7 years but then disclaimed it by saying your mileage may vary.  It appears that I should have paid more attention to the disclaimer!  In only 18 months, the decal developed terrible sunspots and began to lift at the edges again.   While I did get more mileage from this purchase, it was still a waste of money.  I certainly did not get anywhere near 5 to 7 years of life.  You might think that sunspots aren't all that bad.  However,  mine were reddish looking splotches on gold finished vinyl  I guess you just can't believe what you read when it comes to product quality statements. 

The right choice -  Engineer Grade 7-8 Year vinyl

Now after I scraped off the 2nd boat lettering decal I decided to buy from someone I really trusted to look after me….  my own self!     For years now my company has made highly durable motorcycle graphics and car/truck decal kits using our own brand of 7-8 year engineer grade reflective vinyl.  Engineer grade vinyl is simply the best available and most major manufacturers have an engineer grade.   Our engineer grade reflective vinyl is safety reflective vinyl which is used in traffic signs and roadway reflectors.  It is really good quality because it has to be.   Highway signs must hold up for very long periods of time and in every type of weather.    I cut my boat lettering decal in an outline format with reflective black underlayment and bright reflective gold overlayment (you can see this decal here:)

The boat is named "Candolina" and the boat name has a depth and brilliance that no hand painted or standard vinyl lettering can duplicate.  It is bright and has a brilliant depth to it's appearance. 

Under daylight the decal at times will have a fiery quality to it.  However, the real surprise (treat) comes at night and it's visible to other boaters approaching my vessel.   We tested the reflective boat name vinyl on the open sea and in the inland waterways.   You could see the reflections under searchlight long before you could see the watercraft.   This is a terrific safety feature especially when anchored or moored.  As long as an approaching watercraft has lights on,  there will be some reflection from a direct view of your boat name decal.  You can improve the safety aspect of this by using reflective vinyl in your registration numbers.  This will give several angles of view covering most of your watercraft. 

Reflective boat lettering name decals can be purchased from a variety of local sign shops and online Internet vendors.   Any grade of reflective vinyl is generally better quality than ordinary vinyl counterparts.  Fortunately there are no "promotional grades" of reflective vinyl.   However there are Standard, Commercial and Engineer grades, so you can't assume that any reflective vinyl will be the best vinyl for your boat lettering decals.  Just remember that highway traffic signs are made with Engineer Grade reflective vinyl only.  Nothing else will last.  So if you want your boat lettering decal to last, insist on Engineer grade reflective vinyl.   

If you would like to reach me, I am happy to answer any questions about boat name lettering decals and boat graphics.    I can be reached at  I will be happy to discuss boat name lettering decals or any subject for that matter related to boat lettering, truck lettering, vehicle decals, or motorcycle decals.

And remember, boat safely!

Bill Aggie
Streetglo Reflective Decals and Graphics

StreetGlo Safety Boat Lettering -  Aids in Rescue,  Reduces collision


US power Squadron
U.S. Coast Guard Safety Course