May 29, 2016

Uniform tips for high fliers

THERE WILL BE THOSE among us who aspire to high office in sailing associations and yacht clubs. It is to these worthies that I dedicate today’s column

I can imagine how difficult it must be to maintain a smart appearance in one’s best club blazer and pants while confronted with the rigorous requirements of running a small yacht, such as servicing the engine or unplugging the blocked head.  Neverthless, one needs to set an example at all times, convenient or not,  for other boaters to follow; and one also needs to be prepared at all times to appear on the foredeck at short notice in the appropriate attire, should the club commodore happen to cruise by and require  the customary salutes and obeisances.

It is with this in mind that I quote some helpful advice from a book named The Naval Officer’s Guide, by Commander Arthur A. Ageton,, U.S. Navy. It is readily apparent from the book that naval personnel experience exactly the same difficulties as amateur sailors  do in keeping their uniforms neat and tidy.

Here, for a start, is how to look after some important components of your uniform:

“Care of Gold Lace — Gold lace will rapidly tarnish and deteriorate if in contact with, or hung near, any substance containing sulphur, such as rubber or ordinary manila and kraft wrapping paper.

“To Remove Tarnish from Gold Lace — Gold lace may be cleaned by dipping it in a solution of potassium cyanide and rinsing it thoroughly with water. The use of potassium cyanide is very dangerous, as it is a powerful poison, and extreme care must be exercised. Never under any consideration use it when hands bear cuts or scratches. In any case it is far safer to have an experienced tailor clean gold lace.”

Once you have your gold lace under control, it’s time to turn an eye to your uniform buttons. Here what Commander Ageton has to say:

“To Clean Buttons That Have Turned Green — Buttons sometimes turn green when the gold plating is worn off and the copper base becomes covered with green copper carbonate due to exposure to moist air. This can be removed by rubbing gently with acetic acid or any substance containing this acid, such as vinegar or Worcestershire sauce, followed by a thorough washing in fresh water and drying.”

The book contains similarly helpful advice on how to remove many other substances likely to soil or disfigure maritime uniforms, including oil, grease, kerosene, paint, wax, iodine, fruit, and chocolate. If you should be interested in the details of how to deal with any of these problems, simply let me know.

Meanwhile, here is a final piece of advice from the book that will prove most useful to those whose uniforms are showing embarrassing signs of age, especially in the nether regions:

“To Remove Shine from Serge Uniforms —  The spot to be treated should be steamed by laying a wet cloth over it and pressing with a hot iron and then rubbing it very gently with a piece of ‘00’ sandpaper or emery cloth. This should be done by a regular tailor.”

Today’s Thought
We are all Adam’s children, but silk makes the difference.
— Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia. No. 5425

Ever wonder why the average man prefers women with beauty to women with brains?
It’s because the average man can see better than he can think.

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

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