December 30, 2012

Too beautiful for human eyes

OBSERVANT BOAT OWNERS will have noticed a growing fad down at the marina: boat burkas.

A recent discovery that nicely varnished teak incites uncontrollable passion in human beings has apparently led to a large-scale movement to cover up all sailboat brightwork.

The latest issue of Good Old Boat magazine features an extensive article explaining how the author sewed Sunbrella covers for the Dorade boxes on her boat.  Apparently the Dorade boxes on deck, so  lovingly sanded, sealed and varnished by her husand, were made of sexy teak and needed to be hidden from public view.

 You may think it strange that someone would go to considerable expense, time and trouble to cover up teak that was sealed and varnished at considerable expense, time and touble with the express intention of attracting the admiration  of passers by. You may think that if a highly polished teak Dorade box were to be hidden beneath a boat burka, it might as well be made from third-grade knotty pine and left unfinished. But you would be wrong.

Apparently there is something you are missing here.  Perhaps beautiful teak Dorade boxes are creating dangerous passions in impressionable people.  Or perhaps there is a deeper psychological reason behind the burka movement — perhaps the owners of covered-up teak have realized that when something is deliberately hidden in this way, the viewer automatically imagines it to be the most beautiful and desirable object he or she has never seen.

I myself have been struck by the sight of a Pacific Seacraft sloop with every bit of teak woodwork above decks carefully burka-ed.  Whole gunwales were covered with Sunbrella fabric, carefully buttoned down with dinky little fastenings every few feet. I was not, however, overcome with a desire to rip it off and feast my eyes. I must admit that what struck me about it was the waste of time doing the varnishing in the first place, and the small fortune the canvas shop must have made from all that fancy work.

I must admit, further, that the meager amounts of well-weathered teak that have adorned some of the boats I’ve owned were never the objects of excited admiration from passers by. Rather the opposite. In fact, hiding them from public view with boat burkas would have been the decent, merciful thing to do. But luckily for me, boat burkas weren’t  in fashion back then.

Today’s Thought
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
Francis Bacon

“Do you know a man with one eye called Falconetti?”
“Dunno. What’s his other eye called?”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Hajo said...

I'm a big believer in:"The best varnish is white paint". BUT having been responsible for the varnish on our "16 kwadraat" when I was a teenager, I fully understand why one would do this. I imagine that a yearly varnish job will become a once in 5 year varnish job using these "burkas". That seems worth it. (Like anybody that has ever done any bright work maintenance, I hate sanding and varnishing.)

mgtdOcean said...

I always wondered what to call those coverups. My guess is the burka fad is pushed by the same crowd that thought automobile bras were a good idea.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

My next boat will only have oiled woodwork.

John Vigor said...

Well Doc, I hope you're not planning to oil your exterior teak. It's even more work than varnish, specially if it's affected by salt water and hot sun. Been there, done that. Never again.

John V.

KevinH said...

Hi John, All the best for the new to you and yours.
Please expand on oil being a hassle. I've never oiled, but would have thought it a good idea, - tip the bottle and wipe with a sponge.? Not?

John Vigor said...

Kevin, oil is not a hassle. It's easy and it's beautiful. It just doesn't last. The sun will oxidize the oil in a month. I found that splashes from seawater turned oiled teak black in a week. To keep it looking good you need to wipe it down and rub in a new coat every week. But don't take my word for it. Try it for yourself and good luck to you.

John V.

Elle Yatçılık said...

l also used varnish for my gulets but mostly l try to used yacht varnish and l repeat once a year