• A marine-grade wrap can protect a boat from the sun's harmful UV rays.
    A marine-grade wrap can protect a boat from the sun's harmful UV rays.
  • Instead of being painted, the latest Sydney Harbour ferries built by Incat were given a wrap by Plant Wrap.
    Instead of being painted, the latest Sydney Harbour ferries built by Incat were given a wrap by Plant Wrap.
  • A custom wrap for racing yacht, Scallywag.
    A custom wrap for racing yacht, Scallywag.
  • These days, vinyl wraps are more widely accepted as a means of protecting a boat's gelcoat.
    These days, vinyl wraps are more widely accepted as a means of protecting a boat's gelcoat.
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PROFILE: Keeping your boat under wraps

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Brisbane-based Planet Wrap specialises in the colourful art of boat wraps.

If you’re on and around Sydney Harbour, the chances are you’ve already seen the work of Brisbane-based Planet Wrap on numerous occasions. It’s innovative marine-grade vinyl wrapping projects can be seen on vessels as diverse as the new Sydney Harbour ferries built by Incat, the Manly Fast Ferry services and even the bow of the huge P&O cruise ship, Pacific Explorer, which can be seen berthed at Circular Quay.

Based at Brisbane’s Rivergate precinct, Planet Wrap offers a nationwide application service from Hobart to Darwin, specialising in commercial vessels but also providing custom-made wraps to all types of private vessels and yachts such as the Volvo Ocean 65 yacht Scallywag.

Planet Wrap director Mark Andersen started out in marine detailing where his experience with vinyl was limited to boat numbers and names. Then he went on a car-wrapping course and realised the potential for the wrapping systems in the marine sector.

The business started in 2007 and Andersen admits that, back then, “people thought we were a bit strange”. There was a perception then that a boat wrap meant that something needed to be hidden.

Today there is far wider acceptance of the technique and an understanding that vinyl wrapping actually protects the boat from wear and tear and exposure to UV rays, ensuring it retains its resale value for longer. As Andersen points out, detailing and polishing has the effect of removing a layer of gelcoat. In contrast, wrapping ensures the original gelcoat stays in perfect condition.

In the early days, marine wrapping basically meant adapting car-wrapping vinyl for use on boats, a process which demanded meticulous attention to the application.

“It taught us a lot,” said Andersen. “It taught us to take care, which comes in handy when you’re working with big boats.”

These days, building on the experience of the past decade, the process is a lot easier and there are now marine-grade products available for use. An interesting new development is a plastic film from Germany which acts as a foul-release, preventing marine growth below the waterline without the use of biocides.

Commercial vessel operators like wraps because of their flexibility and, on jobs such as the Incat Sydney ferries, it means the wrap can be applied during the build without the need to spray paint.

An interesting aspect of the ferry project was the requirement for the vinyl to reproduce the heritage livery of the Sydney ferries. While the green is a standard colour, the cream colour is unique to the ferries, requiring very careful colour matching from Planet Wrap to get the perfect finish.

This article was first published in the August-September 2018 issue of Marine Business magazine.

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