Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Un-Varnished Truth About Varnish

Bel Sito's varnish by craftswoman Melissa Meyers

Nothing on this wood

A boat with  Cetol covering wood trim

Be sure to click in the post to see the entire entry. 

Study these three pictures. Notice a difference? Of course you do!

What you see here is what we in our household believe is a significant differentiator when it comes to wood on a boat. 

Boat owners fall into three camps. There's the traditionalist who adhere to lots of wood, covered with varnish, which they call 'brightwork'. Then there's the Cetol camp, which cover wood with a fast-application varnish substitute called 'Cetol'. And then, there are those in the naturalist camp who subscribe to nothing at all generally because they just don't want to do any work. Or, they like the unfinished look. 

There's a fourth camp, which holds to the doctrine that no wood on a boat is best of all.

I grew up an Episcopalian where order of worship came in three forms:

High Church, complete with chanting and incense, Low Church, which was almost impossible to tell from any other Christian church and Middle Church, which drew on some of the rituals of a High Church service, but without most of the pomp.

We refer to low, middle and high church practices as lazy, hazy or crazy.

I have subsequently learned there is a fourth kind of Episcopalian who rarely sets foot in church at all.

Using that analogy in The Great Varnish Debate,  I would say that the varnish devotees are like High Church goers (crazy), the Cetol proponents are like Middle Church (hazy) and none-at-all, are of course, in the Low Church or 'lazy' camp.

Those pure fiberglass worshipers are sometimes looked upon as at least agnostic, as far as this tale goes. 

Richard falls squarely in the High Church/Crazy camp and worships a good varnish job with the same ardor that a High Church Episcopalian (which by the way he was) enjoys a great ecclesiastical chant. 

Seriously, there is true artistry to good varnish work and Melissa Meyers is a master at her craft. After stripping old varnish completely off with a heat gun, she sands the surface and gracefully applies a total of eight coats of high-gloss marine varnish. Sure it would be quicker and less costly to protect the wood with Cetol, but it wouldn't be true brightwork and as you can see from the contrasting photos above, there's a world of difference. No varnish or Cetol at all on teakwood will turn grey, which has it's own kind of beauty.

We've had close to 4,000 page views on the blog so far, so I expect this post might offend one of you. Although among our friends, the intended audience, there's probably more chance of offending the Cetol camp than any church-goers.  If so, sorry.  It's a 'lay' day here in Mystic and it's the best I can come up with when all we've done is do laundry, eat great food and generally kicked into full cruise mode.

The Mystic Downtown Marina is most pleasant, by the way. Jack and June couldn't be nicer. They've offered to drive us places and invited us to pick herbs planted outside their office window.  The herbs, as you note in the photo, are in dirt, which is part of land.  Land is good.  So good we may stay here another day.  

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