Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my dinghy cruising blog about my John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. Built over three years, Arwen was launched in August 2007. She is a standing lug yawl 14' 6" in length. This blog records our dinghy cruising voyages together around the coastal waters of SW England.
Arwen has an associated YouTube channel so visit to find our most recent cruises and click subscribe.
On this blog you will find posts about dinghy cruising locations, accounts of our voyages, maintenance tips and 'How to's' ranging from rigging standing lug sails and building galley boxes to using 'anchor buddies' and creating 'pilotage notes'. I hope you find something that inspires you to get out on the water in your boat. Drop us a comment and happy sailing.
Steve and Arwen

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

The smell of varnish

 There is something relaxing, calming, even settling, about varnishing a pair of oars. There is that smell which I find hard to describe but which always brings a little skip to the beat of my heart.

 I know there are many who despise varnish. Perhaps not despising the varnish finish itself, but more the hours of preparation that have to go into getting the base for a really good lustrous finish; followed by the many coats needed to enhance the natural colour of the wood to achieve that lovely rich sheen.  

There are some I know, who would advocate that the best form of varnish for a boat is a coat of white paint! They will remain nameless, although I am sure, they are referring to hull work only; after all, surely spars and oars should be varnished so that the natural splendour of the wood is on display for all to enjoy? I mean is there nothing more beautiful that a well presented set of booms and spars, painstakingly varnished with love and attention to detail and with their ends painted stunning white gloss? 

Ah well perhaps its just me then. And we all know how daft I am 😊

I have sanded the oar blades with various grit papers and given them two coats of thinned varnish. Now I embark on light sanding between coats and perhaps another 3 coats of varnish. I am not too worried about achieving a magnificent glossy lustre of aching beauty. After all, these oars are functional, there to be used. First trip out they will have gained some battle scars once more! 

For now, I  revel in the rhythmic, gentle back and forth movements of a lightly loaded paint brush. It is hypnotic, spellbinding and a period of calm after the busyness of the Christmas festivities. 

And so to a belated Merry Christmas to you all. I sincerely hope your festivities went well and that you and your families are all safe and well. Take care and happy new year to you all, despite the difficult circumstances of a pandemic which seems to have no end in sight yet. 

Fair winds and full sails to you all



Anonymous said...

An excellent job! I generally apply thinned varnish with a rag. It's easier, & the finish is as good, if not better.

steve said...

Hah! never thought of that - learn something new every day. When the good spring weather comes I need to sand and re-varnish Arwen's inner coaming area so I will use that tip - thank you and happy new year as well when it arrives