Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gray Teak People...

(One should be careful about making sweeping generalizations about people, particularly when those people are sailors. But what the hell, this is all in good fun.)

It seems to me that Gray Teak People are a special breed of a special breed - sailors who prefer to spend more time with the sails up than the lid of a tool box open. John K. is a Gray Teak kind of person. One does not rack up hundreds of thousands of blue water miles prepping, sanding, finishing, and polishing. The going is the thing, the adventure, the landfalls. There is no pretence in a Gray Teak Person, no vanity, no need to have someone stopped dead in their dock-walk tracks by the soft glow of hand rubbed rails and decking. Gray Teak People spend as little time a possible at the dock. What a boat looks like is of little value compared to what it can do, where it can go, what kind of weather it can endure safely. Gray Teak People are the movers and the shakers.

I decided that The Tartan was going to be Captained by a Gray Teak Person. The goal was to get it working, get it sailing, get it going, and then get gone. Time is of the essence; it will not be squandered by "pimping my ride." But alas, the finish was peeling off the helm. Not only ugly but rough enough to scrape skin. (Something the Surveyor actually listed as needing fixed. Who would have guessed that a helm smooth to the touch is more important than a working sump tank?)

The helm's shape precluded the use of a palm sander, so the gentle scraping of hand wielded 150 grit filled yesterday evening with sound and my jeans with dust. This morning dawned perfect, cool, and quiet. With the helm looking so good it just seemed right to have the helm seat match. An hour or so later, with seat done and glowing softly, the entry way could not be ignored; and thus my desire to be a Gray Teak Person was overthrown. I know I have opened a Pandora's box of wood finishing; cockpit seats, companionway hatch, dorad boxes, hand rails, toe rail...but I don't mind. They will not all get done right away. Pressing systems repairs remain at the top of the "Do this next" list. But there will be other quiet mornings or cool evenings, hours with no wind to play in or no place to go. A Gray Teak Person will find more imperative things to do at those times, but I will be content to coax beauty to the surface of exquisite bits of trim. The world needs movers and shakers, but I have no need to be one of them.

(Out on the land-locked fringe of Gray Teak People is the "Lead, follow, or get out of the way," crowd. Of them I have no use or patience. Why should I lead? Maybe you don't want to go where I am going. And if you do, why am I responsible for getting you there? Why should I follow? Maybe you are going to a place I don't care to see. As for getting out of the way? Try shoving if you must, but if you do someone is going to land on their ass.)

A boat is a way to experience adventure and landfalls and weather and all the things I love about being on the open ocean. But in my mechanic's heart a boat is also a work of art, (some better than others) a statement, an expression of intent. I admire Gray Teak People. I envy their drive to get off the dock and under way. I am a fan of their hard core pragmatism. (After all, the helm of The Tartan will work exactly the same, finished or no, as will the seats, the toe rail and the dorad boxes.) I fully intend to catch up to them out on the open ocean someday soon. But they are going to get a head start.

1 comment:

S/V Veranda said...

You've managed to justify the Gray Teak People very eloquently, I always had em' pegged as lazy.... :)