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Would you rather varnish than sail?

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,328
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Of course not. Such nonsense is only uttered by someone who doesn't know the ancient varnish system of brightwork care.

Some boats, like Irian, have a lot of varnish to take care of. Built in 1959, she's about to turn 60. I notice in her history, the first buyer owned her for one season(not unusual for new boats) - the second for two seasons - the third for 10 or so...

The present owners have owned her since 1980(I think they still do). That's not unusual either; the older boats get - if they are good old boats - they are often kept long term. They become family members that outlive the owners.

With the present 38 year owners, the boat gets a lot of use. Irian is always one of the first boats launched, and the last hauled. In between, she is sailed a lot along the Maine coast and the Canadian Maritimes. She never misses a minute of sailing due to varnishing.
Irian hill 2_.jpg

Irian looked stunning in the afternoon sun yesterday. I could tell she had been 'wooded' and new varnish coats built up. These owners know varnish and pay the pro's to care for it. Irian gets a maintenance coat each off season.

I don't know how long she was last wooded, I would guess 15 years ago. I'm used to the boat being more blonde, as in this photo a few years ago.
Concordia bright.jpg

In this photo (above), you can see a varnish failure repair at the stem(dark area). You can defer brightwork with repairs like this - only for so long. Then it has to come off and the system started all over again.

'It's not a piano', is another phrase I hear uttered. There's wisdom in this one: Properly applied - to last, varnish looks like a finish that belongs on a piano, not a boat that could (might) sail to Newfoundland.
Irian 2018.jpg

But in fact, after 15 or so years on this bright boat, it's a time tested and proven wood preservation system, that hasn't been improved on.

This finish is one part spar varnish, rolled on and tipped with a brush.

Addendum: This is the oldest photo I could find of IRIAN. Taken in 2008 in Rockport. Her brightwork hull is not too faded. I would guess by the half blonde look and a repair or two, it had been at least 5 years since the hull was 'wooded'.

Irian starboard2.jpg
 
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JRT

.
Feb 14, 2017
1,818
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
I don't miss the winters and rust on my cars but I do miss seeing the most amazing boats when we lived in Bath.
 
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Oct 19, 2017
6,366
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Tom,
Thanks for the pictures and the write up. Fantastic. I am unfamiliar with the term 'wooded', does it refer to revitalizing the faded color? How is it done. As a longtime furniture maker, I've not come across such an idea. Wood either darkens in sunlight or it lightens. Cherry and oak, for example, trend to get darker while mahogany blondes. That it can be reverse is not something I know about.

- Will (Dragonfly)
 
Mar 28, 2017
48
American Tug 395 Newport
Beautiful to look at, but I am happy to just look. I wonder what the annual yard bill is on that boat? I know what we spend on much newer boats and I do (almost) everything!

I remember being mesmerized by the Concordia Yawl Renaissance when she spent a summer on a mooring near me in Newport. She was bright finished and I spent hours just gazing at her. Finally the owner invited me aboard for a tour, I thought that boat was divine...
I remember her owner telling me that he budgeted $30,000 annually for “basic” maintenance and storage at the Concordia yard and this was 23 or so years ago.

We too, use our boat and we use it a lot. Although varnish is not one of the things I do myself, I do maintain everything else and I frequently hear things like ‘you must like cleaning and waxing more than actually using the boat”, this from the same people who never seem to leave their slips, sigh...
Bruce
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,328
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Tom,
Thanks for the pictures and the write up. Fantastic. I am unfamiliar with the term 'wooded', does it refer to revitalizing the faded color? How is it done. As a longtime furniture maker, I've not come across such an idea. Wood either darkens in sunlight or it lightens. Cherry and oak, for example, trend to get darker while mahogany blondes. That it can be reverse is not something I know about.

- Will (Dragonfly)
It's mostly a wooden boat term. Once a coating fails (and they all do from varnish to awlgrip), 'wooding' refers to stripping the old coating off, down to the bare wood.

Sanding of course, deepens the color of sun bleached wood. But in boats, stains have been used ages. What kind, how much and whether to use it all, is an art I know just a little about. I'd like to know if this hull was stained before the new varnish coats went on (maybe I'll find out).

Below is a piece of my 50+ year old cockpit well, ripped in half. African mahogany, the upper strip is how it looked after at least 20 years of very little varnish maintenance. Bleached out.

Below, is wooded and sanded with 80 grit in a RO sander. Than an Interlux sealer stain in Chris Craft Red was applied, as per directions. It then has a couple coats of sealer and 2 coats of varnish. I did this test; liked the looks, then did the same to my cabin house last year.

Brightwork experiment  (1 of 1).jpg

Irian didn't get this deep a stain treatment, but this is the typical depth of color that many mahogany boats will get upon 'wooding'.
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,328
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
As always, gorgeous photos.
Thanks, Dave. I've gone to cutting my photos to 1200 wide (most) for easier loading for people with a slow signal. I hope they still look as good. I can't write with 'thumbnails'. I rarely open them. :)
 
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TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,328
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Beautiful to look at, but I am happy to just look. I wonder what the annual yard bill is on that boat? I know what we spend on much newer boats and I do (almost) everything!

I remember being mesmerized by the Concordia Yawl Renaissance when she spent a summer on a mooring near me in Newport. She was bright finished and I spent hours just gazing at her. Finally the owner invited me aboard for a tour, I thought that boat was divine...
I remember her owner telling me that he budgeted $30,000 annually for “basic” maintenance and storage at the Concordia yard and this was 23 or so years ago.

We too, use our boat and we use it a lot. Although varnish is not one of the things I do myself, I do maintain everything else and I frequently hear things like ‘you must like cleaning and waxing more than actually using the boat”, this from the same people who never seem to leave their slips, sigh...
Bruce
I don't know. Wooden boats, if yard maintained, cost more than similar glass boats. But the difference on average is not that much(I don't think).

Of more than 10 Concordia's stored at this yard, this one is about mid range of how much care it gets. A full service wooden boat yard, the given annual costs would include: haul-launch, indoor stored(spars stepped), bottom painting and basic sailboat systems maintenance. On top of that, most of the boats get a topside paint coat every year (or biannual) and maintenance varnish coats.

My guess would be that the basic carte blanche' care, is still less than your friend 23 years ago. Maine rates have always been lower than your area, and continue.

But a year where your bright hull is wooded and revarnished, is a BIG year. All boats go through BIG years when costs for needed repairs or upgrades are incurred. Wooden boats have the additional structural and cosmetic issues that are eventually expected in wooden hulls(fiberglass has similar cores, pox issues).

A few boats that are maintained here seem to go through a BIG year,...every year.

Your last part, "‘you must like cleaning and waxing more than actually using the boat”, this from the same people who never seem to leave their slips, sigh..." is too common. And I find the same, I do all the work on my boat and always use it more than the person who makes a remark like the above.
 
May 25, 2012
2,933
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
for me, it's like the prom queen wearing combat boots.

....... call me crazy, it's who i am.
 
Nov 1, 2017
585
Catalina 25 Tall Rig Watergate Marina, Kemah, TX
I mean, sailing is great as long as your woodwork doesn't look like it came off a balsa-wood glider, so I varnish when it's needed. Luckily for me, I own a Catalina 25, so there is a minimal amount of teak to work with, which means more sailing and less work!
 
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Oct 25, 2011
572
Island Packet IP31 Lake St. Louis, Montreal
Tom thank you for sharing the picture. It's pure pleasure looking at that boat!

Cheers

Matt
 
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Likes: TomY
Oct 19, 2017
6,366
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
for me, it's like the prom queen wearing combat boots.

....... call me crazy, it's who i am.
Were I ever the prom queen, combat boots would be my footwear of choice. I come from the commercial side of the marina and tend to think in those terms when planning and designing for myself. Utility is just as beautiful as guilding.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 

genec

.
Dec 30, 2010
188
Pacific Seacraft Orion27 HP: San Diego, M: Anacortes
Well hell, I'd rather sail... but varnish I must do.... as I can't pay the yard to....