Feature in Spooled Magazine October 2020

by | Oct 31, 2020 | Blog

Everyone knows that you can bling Fugly till the cows come home but it’s the make-up that perfects the sweetheart! As our little Stabicraft 490 Project Boat nears its construction completion it’s the final touches that have transformed a nautical skank into a lust worthy seafarer.

Before we start let’s have a quick round up of what we have achieved. The boys (Barry and Brendon) at Ozsea Boats completed the major structural work including:

  • Strip, sandblast and repair all corrosion to start with a fresh, clean hull
  • Remove the weak and ugly old windscreen and replace with a tough wavebreaker
  • Rework the cabin storage to something more practical
  • Remodel the seat supports
  • Manufacture and fit an aluminium fuel tank with deck fill and fuel filter
  • Replace all of the rod holders and fittings
  • Replace the bait board and cutting table
  • Remodel the anchor well for new Lone Star drum winch and bow sprit
  • Fit a new fin friendly rear ladder
  • Fit new transducer brackets
  • Paint with non-reactive surface suitable for a wrap

What was a wish list now become achievements:

  • Hydraulic steering – existing
  • Lone Star Marine winch
  • House electronics from Nautek Marine, Atomic Batteries and NARVA
  • New electronics accessories package – still to come from Garmin, Nautek and Axis
  • New flooring and non-skid trim – Form A Sign
  • New wrap – Form A Sign
  • New fishing rod holders and accessories – Steve’s Custom Welding
  • New fittings throughout – Assorted
  • New canopies and upholstery – BARCA Covers and Canvas
  • New icebox/fish storage – Icey Tek
  • And now comes the wrap for which we enlisted Melbourne based experts on all things design from Melbourne’s Creative Sign Company – “Form A Sign”


Fishing boats were once mostly Plain Jane, however modern materials and creative design has driven real artistic value, and some practical creature comfort for our marine market. Wraps have been particularly popular with everything from floating sponsorship billboards to creative works of artistic flare. There has also been tremendous development of beautiful products for floor linings and non-skid surfaces that complete an overall package of state of the art function. The crew at Form A Sign are industry leaders in all types of commercial signage but company owner Wes Chandler and brother Ken Chandler have forged major inroads into their passion for fishing and boating. I must say that their passion is contagious!

There’s more than just the obvious optical obsessions on show in a wrap, there’s actually some real practicality. But like almost all products you must be careful in your choice as you only get what you pay for and the poor pay twice!

Form A Sign only use premium quality marine grade vinyl 3M 180MC with a 3M 8518 clear-over laminate as it provides such a high level of protection with virtually no pigmentation loss from the protective layer. These superior materials ensure longevity with superior UV resistance and premium adhesives that will not react adversely through non-aligned chemicals on an aluminium boat. This outer clear layer is quite impervious and hence will not accumulate grime providing a shiny surface that is very easy to clean generally just with soap and water. Should it get a bit grimy, or for preventative maintenance and added protection the laminate responds well to annual applications of VuPlex plastic cleaner which re-hydrates the wrap.

A good quality wrap may actually prolong the service life of an alloy boat by reducing exposure to damaging elements that can cause corrosion. These elements may be as simple as salt air and water however the incorrect glue and decomposing vinyl may have the opposite effect by accelerate damaging corrosion. At the very least your chosen creation could fade, become dry and crack or simply peel off.

Let’s face it many people choose alloy boats due to their tough DNA. Yet painted alloy boats suffer terribly from the likes of gaff scratches, abrasion and even paint degradation. I tested an aluminium boat recently that looked an absolute shambles after just mooring dockside on a well buffered pontoon costing thousands in a re-spray on a brand new boat! (I hope they use decent materials this time!)

Premium wrap materials are actually quite abrasion resilient, but should the worst happen they can be completely replaced very easily and cost efficiently. Many fleet managers, trucking companies and even airlines now order basic colour schemes in their new vehicles and have them wrapped for their service life. When it comes time to trade or resell it’s quite an easy job to peel off the wrap restoring the protected paint surfaces beneath eliminating the need for a costly respray.

All of that aside Form A Sign employ some of Australia’s most creative artists who can design a personalised wrap of your choice. Alternatively you can provide your own artwork and logo’s, choose from a huge range of stock images or reproduce a custom design. Personalised wraps may also make a boat less attractive to would-be thieves due to their individuality, and easier to trace should a theft occur. We have local experience of a stolen boat being recovered due to its distinctive styling being widely distributed on social media.

A wrap can drastically improve the visual appeal and hence the resale price. This is particularly true for older boats that may be experiencing fade in the gelcoat or paintwork. Form A Sign says, “A new boat wrap makes an older hull look fresh, bright and appealing. Equally the right boat wrap makes a newer model look fresh and enviable.”


The Form a Sign designers supplied a choice of five great recommended options that would work with the very individual shape of Fugly. Then the argument started! Do we want a marlin?, maybe a tuna?, mahi mahi, snapper, Murray Cod or perhaps even a combination? I had a different opinion to Wes who was different to Editor Shane who was different to owner Rob so the only answer was too put the choice out to a poll on social media. The answers came in – the marlin won (much to my satisfaction!) To be honest I would have been happy with any of the selections but our new marlin sets the boat off beautifully with an appropriate amount of SPOOLED logo included. We just love it and you can see the heads turn every time we pass by.

It wasn’t only the wrap we argued over either. Let’s face it tough guys love the convenience of raw checker plate aluminium flooring. Personally I hate it! Whilst we could have left the floor exactly as it was I find raw alloy a very unfriendly surface for those of us that like a few creature comforts. To me aluminium is worse than concrete for extremes of heat, but also as a cold medium that seems to have the ability to suck the life out of your flesh and blood. I have no doubt it increases fatigue especially with cold and frosty days where we spend long hours in search of local snapper and whiting, let alone the many hours tracking down offshore pelagics. Raw checker plate may well be easily cleaned – but at what personal cost?

Form A Sign came up with the right answer. Being fisho’s themselves they know the demands of a hard core fishing boat and hence became the Victorian, South Australia and Tasmanian distributers for U-DEK PE and EVA foam flooring from Ultralon International. These tried and true products are the ultimate non-skid flooring materials, however Form A Sign add their unique brand of design and manufacturing capabilities to the product to produce beautiful layouts with tasteful features and highlights. Our new U-DEK flooring not only enhances the comfort levels but has accentuated the wrap to turn ol Fugly into nautical eye candy!

The thick cushioned comfort of the U-DEK PVA flooring is warm in winter, cool in summer and eliminates that spine shivering draw. It also reduce noise in your hull. Not only does it look great but it will honestly keep my old bones fishing for longer. The special 3M adhesive is made to work in the wet marine environment. Ultralon closed-cell chemically cross-linked foams are manufactured from polyethylene (PE), ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers (EVA) or a high-tech blended copolymer. The fine cell structure gives minimal water absorption, a high buoyancy rating and excellent chemical resistance. No chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) product or derivatives are used, and no organic fillers are added to foams. U-DEK boat flooring also doesn’t absorb water and is easy to clean with water. You can wash any bait or fish residue straight off your boat floor.

Form A Sign only offers Ultralon’s newest and best boat flooring product. New U-DEK 190 has a higher density than the previous 140 model, which leads to increased durability, lower susceptibility to light amplification, improved heat tolerance and less shrinkage. The increased tensile and tear strength and higher shear elongation means U-DEK 190 is one of the highest performing foams available.

Form A Sign utilise leading global digital templating technology to improve the overall accuracy of your marine floor template. Their Prodim Proliner digital templating technology measures accurately with a wire. At the end of the wire is a metal measuring pen. With this measuring pen you can simply mark the relevant points, shaping around boat rod holders, seats, cup holders, hatches, steps, doors and curves. These points are directly translated into a digital DXF CAD file. Straight, curved and very complex shapes can be measured fast and accurate from every position.

Form A Sign utilise their design department to come up with tastefully embossed features that are router cut by computerised CNC machinery producing precise customised flooring and non-skid wear surfaces. Ours not only features a planked effect in the steel grey and black??? EVA, but it also has our SPOOLED logo and handy fish rulers as part of the finish.

The colour scheme with the white hull, black wave breaker and rocket launcher, marlin wrap sides, blue canopies and upholstery, stainless steel and now the U-DEK flooring just looks sensational. Its far more than bling – it all combines as a practical, good looking, easily cleaned and state of the art aquatic assault weapon.

DIY boat wraps, boat floors, boat cleaners & non-slip trailer pads can be purchased on Form A Sign’s on-line shop. Over 140 boat wrap designs are available.

John Willis, Spooled Magazine


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Noble Park North,
Melbourne VIC 3174


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