April 19, 2012

The teak cover-up

ONE OF THE STRANGEST of yachting's many affectations is that of covering up varnished teak. It is surely some kind of madness that causes people to spend hours rubbing down cockpit coamings and rubrails, sealing them, diligently applying 10 coats of expensive varnish — and then covering them up to protect them from the elements. All that work and money to make the brightwork look absolutely gorgeous and stop passers-by in their tracks — and then it's hidden from human view, concealed by expensive canvas work, with special cutouts for shrouds and fancy stainless-steel buttons to hold it in place.

I guess it's a question of looks versus utility. Some people are definitley more concerned with looks and don't really care about the finer points of sailing ability or efficiency. There is an interesting comment in the May/June issue of Good Old Boat magazine, comparing an Alberg 35 with the Hinckley Pilot 35.

The name Hinckley is associated with superb quality, of course, but author Dan Spurr comments: "It was very well built — probably no stronger than the Alberg but better finished. Much of the higher cost of a boat from a company like Hinckley is in the man-hours spent on the interior, not in the hull and deck layups. The company liked to say it built a wooden boat inside a fiberglass shell. That's what you pay the Rolls-Royce dollars for — the chassis is essentially Chevy."

So you can have a palace afloat, or you can have an efficient machine that responds enthusiastically to the helm, one that gallops upwind delightfully and flies downwind straight as a die. Every bit of polished teak that adorns the interior of the Hinckley makes it heavier, slower, and more cumbersome to handle. But if it's opulence that floats your boat, there's little to surpass a Hinckley for making you feel like royalty when you're safely at anchor and expecting dukes and duchesses for supper. Just don't complain that an Alberg 35 costing half the price and providing twice the sailing fun, overtook you on the way and pinched the best place to anchor.

Today's Thought
Common sense among men of fortune is rare.
— Juvenal, Satires.

Two blondes walk into a building . . .
Hell, you'd think at least one of them would have seen it.
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


mgtdOcean said...

You nailed this one John, two thumbs up:)
This was one of my first mysteries I came across when I started "Yachting".

Ah, but to be in the economic class that allows easy ownership of Teak adorned boat that you pay someone else to maintain. Then every time you "arrive" at the yachting center your boat is always ready for a magazine cover.

Nah, like you said, if teak isn't structural or at least a good non-skid it's just for show and makes any sailboat further on the spectrum towards....shall I say it?...a motorsailer.

Anonymous said...

“If At First the Idea Is Not Absurd, Then There Is No Hope for It” Albert Einstein.

Seems to me that Al's qoute ties to your point as well as sailing in general.

Courtney said...

I can identify with this problem. On the one hand, you want a perfect sailing vessel, a boat that heads into weather and sails downwind delightfully. But you (that is to say, I) want to do it in style. It's a vanity thing, a pride issue, shallowness and boasting. Why have a great sailing vessel when you can also have one that looks fantastic at the same time! It's a race between the desire to sail and the desire to impress, and often times those two compete in battles to the death.