Want some custom boat shirts - or hats, mugs or cards - but don't like the minimum order size and prices you've found? Here's how I just had TBG shirts made.

Boat Shirts

Have you thought about getting some “boat shirts” made up, but didn’t when you found out that you had to order a dozen or more — and that they were pretty pricy?

I had the same problem recently, when I wanted to get a couple of t-shirts made up with The Boat Galley logo to wear at boat shows this fall and winter.  I really didn’t want 12 shirts, nor did I want to spend $35 or so per shirt to get a smaller number (set up fees add up . . .).  I spent a LOT of time calling local print shops and looking online.

As you can see from the photo, I finally found a good solution:
VistaPrint.  The base prices aren’t bad, and they have a number of specials and online coupons.  With a coupon, I was able to get 4 white t-shirts printed front and back for $45 (including ground shipping and everything).  Google “Vistaprint coupons” to find the current discounts (they have them pretty much all the time).

VistaPrint would be a great option for boat shirts (or other items) if you only need a few.  They’d cost even less if you just printed the boat name on the left chest (printing on the back as well as the front added about $3 per shirt).  I put a huge logo on the back so that readers might spot me at distance — and, yes, for “advertising”!

The t-shirts are 100% cotton and run true to size, but they are not particularly heavy.  In the photo, you can see how the big logo on the back is slightly visible from the front side, but when I put one on, it’s NOT see-through.  (I’ve definitely got some t-shirts that are thinner.)  Since they were considerably cheaper than other options I was looking at, I was definitely nervous about the quality of the printing.  I really didn’t want something that looked shoddy.  They use a heat transfer process, but I honestly can’t tell the difference from screen-printed shirts that I have (maybe a professional could).

VistaPrint also offers polo shirts, ball caps, coffee mugs, “business” (read:  boat) cards and lots more, also at good prices for custom printing or embroidery in small batches.  Sometimes selection of the base product is limited (for example, t-shirts only come in white, grey and black) but the size range is pretty good, going from S to XL on most items.  VistaPrint also offers ladies’ shirts (for an extra price).  Everything that I looked at could be ordered one at a time.

If you upload your own art (as a .jpg or several other formats), there is a charge (I think it’s $3 before any discounts, it was $2.67 after the discount) the first time you use the image and free thereafter, even on separate orders.  No charge for images you upload but don’t use.  AND there’s no extra charge for additional colors — or full color photos.

The one drawback to VistaPrint is that you’re pretty much on your own for designing your shirts.  The pricier companies offer a lot more advice and hand-holding.  However, I thought VistaPrint’s system was pretty easy to use — it only took me about 15 minutes to upload the files and come up with two designs that I liked.

One final note if you’re looking for a large number of shirts (say you want to give them out as presents), there are other companies that are cheaper and offer more options.  A few that I looked at and thought could be good for larger print jobs (but I don’t have actual experience with) are:

And CafePress can be good if you need help with your design, but they are definitely more expensive:

Do you have boat shirts?  Or hats, mugs or anything else?  Upload a photo to The Boat Galley’s Facebook page and show them off!

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  • Tammy
    Posted at 05 September 2011 Reply

    I’ve used Viataprint for years. I found them when I went looking for a place tp get boat cards. I’ve bought banners and signs for work as well as boat shirts and hats. I agree with you about the items being thin but that’s a plus here in humid South Texas. The hats we got were great and have lasted for several years.

    What you didn’t mention was that they have FREE promotions all the time and the stuff is really free. Of course you pay shipping but they don’t gouge you on that.

    Anyway, I love your posts and have found many very useful in our preparations for cruising ourselves. Keep them coming.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 05 September 2011 Reply

      Thanks for a second opinion! Lately I’ve seen ads for free business/boat cards and bumper stickers. I’m thinking about getting some of their cards — I’ve always just printed my own, but their offer of 500 for $10 is cheaper than I can buy the paper, let alone the ink.


  • Lavinia
    Posted at 05 September 2011 Reply

    I’m new to your website and I just wanted to thank you! I am really enjoying it and find it so informative! We have just purchased our 4th boat – a Trawler -Kadey Krogen 42 and are planning on long range cruising within the next year when we retire. Thanks for the resource! Lavinia

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 05 September 2011 Reply

      Congrats on the new boat! Have a wonderful time on your cruise and thanks for reading TBG!


  • Jen
    Posted at 26 July 2012 Reply

    Thanks for the idea! I’ve been looking for just a few shirts for our charter business and was put off by how expensive they all were. This is a much better option!

  • tami
    Posted at 26 March 2013 Reply

    You all might be surprised if you look locally. Some screen print houses offer short-run services by using an inkjet process. It might be worth a call to ask.

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 26 March 2013 Reply

    Just got this note from BoatNameGear: Carolyn – don’t forget about the embroidered boat name option, available one-at-a-time or for the whole crew, and with lots of different styles to choose from:

  • Heather Braun on Facebook
    Posted at 26 March 2013 Reply

    I’ve had business cards made at Vistaprint, quick delivery and good prices.

  • Candy Kiesel / St. Somewhere
    Posted at 18 November 2013 Reply

    Carolyn, I LOVE Vistaprint! Everything we have ordered has been great. The “boat” cards were such a good quality paper, and look fantastic not to mention how cheap they are. When I run out, I just send an e-mail and the next batch arrives unbelievably quick.
    Love your blog 🙂

  • Jan Alexander
    Posted at 19 November 2013 Reply

    We have used vistaprint.com for cards and been very happy with their free ones; the ones you can custom design are reasonably priced too. Another option for shirts might be embroidme.com if you are in USA, Canada or Australia. It is a franchise with 300 branches according to their website. I came across a store a few years ago and was able to get just two polo shirts (cotton, of good quality) embroidered for less than $20 each, with no setup fee. They had a wide range of products and offered screen printing as well as embroidery. I was quite pleased with their offerings.

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