Why Have a Boat Card? What’s on a Boat Card?
A boat card is a calling card for boaters. They can remind us of who we have met, they can allow us to more easily reconnect when we end up in the same anchorage again. Sometimes stores or marinas like to have them. For me it’s also a handy way to remember all those numbers that define us. I recommend you list these or as many of them as you have:
- Boat Name (and logo if you have one)
- Coast Guard registration number
- Marine Station Call Sign
- blog URL
- boat profile (back side)
- crew names
- email addresses
- Ham call signs
- possibly: social media names such as Twitter or Facebook
We do include our email address – but it is our shoreside email, not the one we use on passages. Since our bandwidth is so limited on passages where we are accessing the internet by radio, we allow only a very few people on our emergency contact list to have our passages email address.
What’s NOT on our Boat Card?
We don’t include phone numbers because we don’t have a continuous phone number – it changes in every country (if we have a phone at all). However if you are doing coastal cruising this might be an option. And though I do have a Google Voice number and a Skype name, I don’t really want people calling me on that – I prefer they use one of these other channels. I figure I can write this information on the cards of particular friends if needed.
Some people recommend photos of the crew so people can more readily remember you when they see the card. Although this makes sense, I thought it would be difficult to incorporate these in a visually appealing way in the limited space on the card. If they’re really curious they can check out the website.
And the boat profile is a new addition. It was difficult to get a good clean vector image of our boat profile – I had to make it from grainy old scans from the 60s. This is certainly not a required part of the card, but it does add visual interest and might be useful in identifying us across a harbor.
How to Get a Boat Card
You can print your own if you have a decent printer. This would be very convenient for replenishing your stores! However by printing your own you will not get the water-fastness and paper quality that a commercial printer offers. I got mine printed at Moo.com because I liked their online service and the fact that they offered two-sided prints. I easily uploaded my design; they save my order for easy reordering or modifying and reordering later; and they had great paper choices – I went with the rounded edges in a matte finish. The cards are very sturdy and might survive boat life a little longer than ones I could print myself. VistaPrint is another popular online service and they often have very good prices.