There is often more than one nautical term for the exact same thing on a boat. This includes the boards showing the boats name and its port of registration. The board carrying the name can rightly be called the name plate, or the transom board, or the aft board, or the stern boards, because they are usually mounted on the transom, the stern, or aft section of the boat. These boards are not to be confused with quarter boards, that display the ships name on either stern quarter, not actually on the transom. A boat will normally also have a board showing its port of registration, also known as the port-of-call, or registration board, but not its home port that is again different and which can also be mounted on…well you get my drift.

The boats original port-of-call. When I bought Britannia she had a different name and was registered as an American vessel in San Diego, CA. In due course I un-documented her and re-christened her Britannia, one of the oldest name of any British ship, going back to Roman times. Registration is now in the Isle-of-Man, a picturesque island in the middle of the Irish Sea between England and Ireland and part of the United Kingdom.

Both boards therefore needed new letters and restoration. They were heavy solid moldings in glassfibre resin, fastened to the transom with stainless screws and lashings of adhesive caulking. It was very difficult to lever them off even using 3’ foot long pry bars, and it left a very big mess on the boards and the transom.

The original name and port-of-call were simply white vinyl letters stuck on the blue painted boards. I sanded the boards with my belt sander that made short work of all the letters and smoothed out the globules of paint and varnish that had been applied over the years. I then undercoated both boards with two coats of two-part epoxy primer from Jamestown Distributors Total Boat range, (, rubbing down between coats with 120 grit sandpaper. I then rolled three coats of Total Boat Flag Blue on each board, again rubbing down between coats and finishing with 250 grit, that produced a glass like hard finish.

It was necessary to continuously stur the paint.Painting the gold paint on the nameboard.Both boards had a ½” inch wide cove stripe inlay along the top and bottom, that I carefully painted with Total Boat metallic gold paint. This actually contains copper dust to give it its gold color, and the heavier metal always sinks to the bottom of the tin. Rather than stirring the paint with a wooden stirrer I wetted my inch brush from the thicker paint in the bottom of the tin, using the stirrer. This gave me more gold on the brush, but it still took four coats to produce the simulated gold leaf effect I wanted, that was very striking against the dark blue background. Finally I painted two coats of Total Boat clear varnish over the whole board, that further increased the shine of the gold paint.

This shows the letter template in use.For the actual name Britannia I purchased nine gold colored 4” inch molded acrylic letters from  At $12.00 each they were not cheap, but the gold color is impregnated into the acrylic molding and I was assured they will never tarnish. I ordered my letters to be fitted with threaded nylon bushes in the back of each letter to enable them to be fastened through the boards with 3/16” inch stainless steel set screws. The company offer other methods of fixing the letters to any type of transom or board. There is stud mounting, wire mounting, flange mounting and outside brackets.

I first made a template of each letter by tracing the outline on art board and cutting them out, then I pressed through the template with a pencil to mark the position of the studs. I then aligned each template evenly on the curved boards and marked the center of the stud holes. I drilled through with a 1/4” inch drill then countersunk, and fastened the letters to the board from the back.

The is one of the appliques that was glued to the board.As an added adornment I bought a set of four ornamental appliqués for $16.65 from the Home Depot website. The two larger scrolls were for the name board and the smaller ones for the port-of-call board. They are made from 1/4” inch thick plywood, so they had to be thoroughly waterproof sealed first with epoxy undercoat, then gold painted before being glued to the boards with epoxy adhesive.

For the port-of-call I had nine 3” inch letters cut from self adhesive gold vinyl by a local sign shop. These were only $35.10 for the whole lot and the same typeface as the name letters. The sign shop also stuck them down precisely on the curved board, since I was doubtful I could do it with the same accuracy. Both boards were then ready to fasten back to the transom. I coated the backs with a liberal covering of Total Boat SEAL caulk, that also sealed the screws, and by the way, it is half the price of 3M caulking

When both boards were screwed tightly back where they came from, there remained a total of 29 screw heads to be filled in and smoothed into the cove stripes, then painted over with gold. I am a believer in “not spoiling the ship for two pennyworth of tar”  and the job was done.


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The finished sternboards.