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Update: Gazela Nameplate Restoration

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

After months of work, the nameplate was finally re-installed in time for the Gazela to sail to Harborfest in Norfolk, VA, her first trip since the pandemic. Sadly, I was unable to go with her. This winter I developed eye problems that give me photosensitivity and severe floaters, and though my stamina has greatly improved, spending several days on the water seemed like a recipe for massive sickening headaches. I'm hoping to go for a day sail at some point.

Here's a view of the little workshop in the hold of the ship I used for the finishing touches. There was a lot of sanding going on up on deck that day, so I wanted to avoid dust in the fresh paint. This nook is usually used for repairing and repainting the blocks (pulleys).

I wanted to make sure to highlight the hand-carved stippling around the star, so I was extra careful with a tiny brush. It might have been easier to paint the yellow dots over the red, but then I wouldn't have been able to see the placement of the dots.

Here's the sequence of removing approximately seven layers of paint and refurbishing the nameplate.

Originally, this Portuguese fishing boat was painted oxblood and white, colors reflected in those chosen by more than one previous sign painter.

The restoration took far longer than I had hoped, partially because my eye problems made it difficult for me to tolerate detail work or bright light. Thankfully, my endurance has increased over the past four months, but it's still a consideration. Nolan the Bosun kindly added two coats of gray primer for me, which saved me two sessions of work. Each of the horizontal photos represents a 3-4 hour work session.

This is just one of 4 painted signs on the ship: three declaring GAZELA, and one that says PHILADELPHIA. I wanted to repaint the nameplates in a manner that brings out the beauty of their carving, reads well from a distance, and is stylistically cohesive with the overall appearance of the ship. The yellow was originally planned as underpainting for gold leaf, and once the crew returns from Harborfest, I'll see if they'd prefer I gild it or get to work restoring the other signage first.

You can rent our ship for weddings and parties, and we also host concerts and burlesque shows. For more information or to volunteer, visit

To see more paintings inspired by the Gazela, click here.

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Absolutely gorgeous!! Well done!!

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