The adjective ‘cosmetic’ is defined as, ‘treatment intended to improve a person’s appearance,’ and as a noun in the plural, ‘cosmetics’ means, ‘preparations, especially for the face’, but so often boat brokers incorporate the adjective into their selling jargon perhaps with these words, ‘This sound boat has somewhat been neglected, but she only needs some cosmetic attention.’
Well, my yacht ‘Bumper’ had a face lift today, when I applied a small quantity of Blakes alizarin crimson yacht enamel to the sides of her cabin. That put a smile on her face and on mine too! I used the same paint for the wooden bracket securing the windvane self-steering gear to the transom ladder, not so much as a cosmetic, but more as a preservative.
The appearance of a boat can lift the morale of the crew and act as an incentive for keeping things shipshape, and there’s something very pleasing in maintaining a vessel so that she sparkles. I love scooping up buckets of clean sea water and emptying the contents over the decks prior to giving them a good scrub before rinsing them off with more salt water. If there’s fresh water to spare at a marina, so much the better for a shine, but it doesn’t do teak any good, because it is then not protected by the salt found in sea water, which is particularly effective as a preservative for wooden boats. Fresh water encourages rot, especially with oak and elm; hence the great sailing ships of old when laid up at the end of their working life quickly succumbed to effects of rain water.