Sail Number application

I do not wish to put a self-sticking piece of plastic on my sails to represent my sail number on my new boat.

What is the easiest and safest way to apply ink onto my sail? I do have Sharpie black permanent marking pens. Will they work?

I have heard of problems with ink spreading causing irregular edges to numbers applied with marking pens and am concerned about that happening.

I would also like to apply a decal and since the name of my boat is “Papillon”, I would like to put a representation of a butterfly in the middle of my mainsail. Has anyone experience using rub-on images? Or is a common waterslide decal best?

Last, will I be notified via email if this post gets a response?

Thank you.


Apparently noone here has any idea how to apply sail numbers. Either that or the forum is dead.


My numbers are put on with a black marker. There is no noticable bleed.

I have read of a technique where you gently outline the numbers with a ball pen first. This is supposed to create an edge that reduces/prevents bleeding.

I continue to use very thin vinyl, hand cut. It provides a nice deep opaque color - and they can be carefully removed and any excess adhesive removed using alcohol - even on Mylar.

Photos are of an RG-65 set - fabric is ripstop nylon 1.5 oz. Two different sail numbers - one for my son and one for HIS son (my grandson)

You will get an email notification if you elected to “watch” this site/thread. Something you have to elect to do.

I can understand your hesitation to apply plastic numbering to your sails, but I have been supplying them for years now and they not only last well, are cut to within .001" by a computer, but they do not affect the shape of the sail. I have numerous skippers using my numbers who are competing at the absolute highest levels and you can be assured that if there was any degradation in performance, they would not use them. There are several suppliers out there along with myself that would answer any questions you might have should you decide to try them. My website has pictures and explanations of them and both the dry and wet method of applying them.

Good luck with your project, there is nothing that sets off the appearance on a model boat quite like the numbers on the sails. All too often I see a very fine model boat that has it’s overall appearance ruined by clumsy numbers or misaligned Class symbol, you are quite right to take a serious attitude in finishing your model.