June 11, 2009

Apply, Buff, Repeat

My dad taught me how to wax a car. He also taught me how to polish a shoe, because he was a stickler for a well-polished shoe. He paid me a dime for every pair of his shoes I could polish. I was nine, so for me this was High Finance. Eventually he gave me a raise to a quarter for every pair of polished shoes. Little did I know at the time this was probably to be, proportionally, the biggest single raise I would ever enjoy in my professional life.

But back to waxing the car. As well as he taught me, waxing a car is nothing like waxing a boat. For starters, with the family Chrysler, you didn't have to balance on a ladder to accomplish the task, with the exception of covering the roof, maybe. And, because the family car was inevitably gunmetal blue or sage green or (whoa! get ready for this, Marge!) burgundy red, but god forbid NEVER white (shows the dirt!), it was fairly easy to spread the wax and, as its chalky whiteness set up against the dark background of the car's finish, keep track of where you'd been.

Not so on a white fiberglass hull.

I had no clue what I was doing here, but Dave took a darn nice picture of me doing it, don'tcha think? You noted the name of the boat, right? :)

Could not for the life of me see where I had already been with my rag applicator unless I got down off the ladder, walked a few steps away, cocked my head in such a way as to let the indirect light of the sunny day bounce off the fiberglass surface and reveal, hopefully, a circular wax application pattern. Then I'd have to note where the circular pattern stopped in relation to some arbitrary benchmark on the hull or on the topsides (a lifeline stanchion? a scuff? the stained remains of a smooshed bug?), reclimb the ladder, swirl another schmear of wax on the applicator that was rapidly deteriorating under the strain of constant rubbing, and continue my circular way forward. Dave's character may have been strengthened by paint removal, mine attained super-hero status by wax application.

But eventually I made it down the starboard side of Smitty's hull and back up the port side, with my co-captain in close pursuit, buffing with a serious power tool:

Ahhhh, that's what you count on a co-captain to do. Especially one who fills a desperately-needed urban condo closet with a large chest of drawers that's branded "Sears Craftsman."

Later, he shaved and I reapplied my make-up in the crisp reflection of that blue stripe.

Strip, check. Prime and paint, check. Wax and buff, check. Hull work complete. Next on our pre-launch housekeeping list, we clamber aboard and take a peek at the situation in the cabin.

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