Teak is a relatively recent affectation in the world of boats. But, then again, yachts, vessels for pure recreational use, haven't been around that long relative to the history
of people and boating
. Someone has sold
us an idea that one's boat should reflect our resources, our manifestation of taste and judgement and wonderfulness. Therefore, shine equals good, dull equals bad, according to the gospel of whoever has sold us this belief system. Teak wasn't used a lot until a hundred or so years ago, at least for Western boats. It got used because it was tough and held up to ultraviolet rays and continuous salt water
exposure. It wasn't really dressed up with oils or varnish
, except for cabinets and fancy stuff. But then, with the advent of yachts, and the creation of the cult of shine, folks discovered how beautiful it looks when oiled or varnished. Suddenly, it became part of the whole "Bristol fashion" craze of boat maintenance
. Left alone to its own devices, it would turn grey, the grain would erode in places leaving a great traction for decks that are wet, and it wouldn't rot
very quickly in damp places. But the shine police informed us that this isn't what yachting is all about, hence the oil
and varnish. The same logic was then passed to teak and holly cabin
soles, so shiny with varnish that the addition of a bit of water from your seaboots would allow you to skate across the cabin
floor at the most surprising moments. Not many floorboards are built with nonskid in "shiny" yachts.
My job is to generate income
from poor, unfortunate folks that believe that shine is the route
to ultimate salvation. Hence, on my own boat, I have some really pretty pieces of wood that shine a lot and advertise my wonderfulness as a craftsman. In other places, such as underfoot, I ignore the shine police warnings, hoping to so awe the unfortunates with the handrails and coamings that they can't resist giving me their money
in the hopes of becoming recognized by their peers as being truly astute and knowing in the ways of the sea. They would never consider painting over the wood that requires maintenance
, because they aren't probably ever going to go anywhere, anyway. I need it both ways, so I can make a thin coat of protective paint for the tropics, and sand it away to be replaced with a quick coat of shine when I need to generate more bucks. I guess I'm really just a whore, but I can put on some pretty shiny lipstick when I need some quick bucks.