As I am now a bit in a limbo waiting for parts to resume works on the solar-array I switched my attention to a tiny, but deciding, detail on GEKKO. With the large solar side panels now installed, the boat lost a huge white area (and some green Gecko-stickers) on the side. The big solar panels mimic windows, which they obviously are not, but for me aesthetically I missed kind of a connection between these new big black surfaces and the boat itself. So decided to give GEKKO a little design update.
I called out dear partners of Monsterwerbung, which is a great little company in Hannover specialized in foliation. I am working with these guys for all of our boat-designs as they deliver high quality, expertise and spotless application of the stickers. Robin, the boss, who already did the initial sticker design for GEKKO, arrived the other day to take measurements. The idea was to have a simple outline in GEKKO-green all around the new side panels and some Gecko-stickers placed here and there to add some more green spotlights to the boat.
High quality boat stickers
The problems with boat stickers are manyfold: These stickers should look awesome and stay that way for a long time. But especially boats are prone to very hazardous (in terms of material-life) forces. That is the salt water for example, the high daily doses of very aggressive UV-light, the constant change from dry to wet to dry to wet and so forth and of course the mechanical stress – how many times are we running to the bow, abrading the stickers with our boat shoes?
Our partners offer a wide variety of sticker material. A hint for you guys if you are planning to have your boat (or whatever) foliated: Look for a company where the people know what they are talking about! Which basic material to choose? Robin talks about 3M-foil, UV-resistance and other insider´s talk to find out which basic material is the best: Should it stick very strong (to remain for a long time) or just for one or two seasons (as we do it with out stock boats). Only after we have determined these ground questions, he starts production.
One week later my stickers are produced. As the GEKKO-green is not a RAL-color, we have to utilize the (more expensive) digital print-technique. On the other hand, this makes my boat design very unique and the color as well. The stickers are printed, dried thoroughly and laser-cut with a wite outline. Then transferred to a transparent counter-foil and this is how we started yesterday. To safe money, I had the guys applied the green outline only, the Geckos I wanted to do by myself.
It´s in the Details, Baby!
It took a pro like Robin a few minutes, half an hour at maximum, to attach the green outlines. I thought it might be a good idea to have a light greenish touch all around the side panels to visually “integrate” the big solar array into the ship´s overall appearance. I asked the guys to print some more Geckos in variable sizes which I planned to stick to the ship here and there for further adding nice touches.
As the guy had left, I went on to the boat and started to thoroughly clean the gelcoat surface with a fat solvent detergent, rubbed it dry and marked the Gecko stickers for the cut. With a carpet knife I cut the Geckos to size and placed them onto the boat – a work quickly done like ABC. The outcome is both sweet, surprising and most of all very subtle.
The smaller Geckos start at the front, kind of “tumbling” back aft and “disappear” behind the solar panels. I like the effect. It is not so imposing and big as the Geckos on the hull, but it really closes the gap and kind of re-connects the boat´s top and deck area with the hull. I also find it highly dynamic and nice, now, even when the boat is moored in the berth and the hull is obscured by neighboring boats, the GEKKO will instantly be recognized from now on again. Sadly, but that´s the price I had to pay, I had to remove the distinct Beneteau logo and the signature French Seahorse with no adequate new place. Well, I guess Sam Manuard´s lines and the fame of the Seascape will still make the boat recognizable.
Finished and looking good
After some 30 minutes my work was done and both sides had been decorated. The stickers hold tight, all small air bubbles professionally removed and GEKKO is back in business. This small design update really does the job and it was worth it. It also killed some waiting time for electric equipment to resume works on the solar panel. Two days later the first parcel arrives with part by part arriving. I hope we can start the real tough works during the coming week.
In this, these are the last jobs to be done on GEKKO and I can´t wait for the day I can strap her up again and tow her to the sea. My schedule is kind of tight and I need to have her in the water by end April for sea trials, live test of the real solar performance and some much needed practical sail training. As with our regular clients, I too feel it: Spring is coming, temps go up and so does the urge to at long last send winter season to the history books and hoist the sails again.
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