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The Final Coat

By Daria Blackwell

We decided some time ago that we really do love teak.  That’s a good thing because our boat has a lot of it.

We had removed all the teak doors from our boat to work on at home during the winter. They needed a minimum of one fresh coat of varnish per door, and in some cases, several. As I worked my way through the maze of doors in various stages of finish in our basement this winter, I found myself thinking that with each brush stroke we were coming closer to the end of winter.  This of course means that we were coming that much closer to spring and the omnipresent rituals of preparing the boat for launch. 

Through the winter, I would try to do one thing in preparation most days.  Wash the salt off the gear (all the zippers on bags, clothes, etc. had seized with salt and I soaked and soaked until they opened freely again), replace expired items in the medical kit, replace batteries in electronic gear, replace bobbins on inflatable PFDs, go through the abandon ship bag and make sure everything in it is still current, and reorganize everything once again. 

I alternated these tasks with the wood work needed on the doors.  Either a coat of varnish or a sanding, alternating between the two.  As the varnish built up, so did my pleasure.  It’s a funny thing how working with one’s hands to bring out the sheer beauty in a plank of wood can be so pleasing.  With each coat, I would walk away and come back hours later to take a look. Sometimes a speck of something intruded, sometimes a bubble did not go away, sometimes a drip had formed, sometimes a brush stroke was visible; but all in all, I was immensely pleased that I had done this lovely job. 

It was a good thing I had these things to work on because the weather through February and early March was brutal. Snow, cold, storms. Then I started to sense a change in the air.  First one bright sunshiny day, then another. The indoor projects were coming to a close.  At some point with each piece came time for the final coat.  I was full of anticipation.  As I carefully lay down the coat that would define each piece for several years to come, I looked through the depth of layers to the grain beneath and saw my smile reflected back at me.  A new season was about to begin, and these doors would be a big part of it.  I had a great sense of pride and accomplishment. I couldn’t wait to hang them and get going again. 

Usually, we launch about April 1, the first day permitted by our insurance coverage limits; but not this year. First, it would be time to do all those projects on the boat that are still waiting to be done. For the first time in our boating history, we decided to delay launching so we could finish a few major things - painting the coach roof, varnishing the wood trim, replacing the ropes, among others. We were chomping at the bit to get out there and get to work, and we finally had our first chance. A full day of warmth and sunshine! Yippee, the work could commence.

I can't wait to feel the joy of being on the water. But first I have to get to the final coat of all the coats. Ah, the joy of painting! I can't wait to sit back and enjoy the view.

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