Deck view from Joie de Vivre Country House

Since a previous post about the sea, I have been inspired to write about the ocean. The sea, the life of a sailor, ocean-going literature, and even wooden decks. This is a picture of a wooden deck, albeit at a hotel in the countryside, 40-odd miles away from the nearest harbour., yet just one image, one word, can catapult my mind back to my days working in the yacht industry in a foreign harbour.

My first experience of working on yachts way back when was a two-week project refurbishing an old teak deck. What was once grey and dry and ugly became new and bright and beautiful again with minimal work, relatively speaking. The work was backbreaking in that you had to be seated right upon the deck with small hand tools and elbow grease as your only methods. None of this modern nonsense of electricity, harmful chemicals, and rushed labour – no, we all just worked 8 to 5 for two weeks and got it done.

The best parts were certainly the breaks: first tea, “smoko’s” for those indulging in cigarettes, lunch, arvi tea, and then finally the drinks and snacks at the end of the day, when we took out fishing rods and beers and talked smack until sunset or when we needed to ride home on our bicycles. Life was simple then – paid in cash, cycling to work and back, free food from our own Thai chef ‘Noi’, and no worries beyond what we to do that day.

I often look back in fondness at those days, when my skin was brown, muscles were strong, and appetite voracious due in part to my youth, but likely also the full day’s labour. Now I take photographs and populate websites with the content, wishing somehow I could enter into those scenes as a simple labourer, having tangible daily goals like catching fish, and doing an objectively good job refurbishing a teak deck.