Beachcombing for weathered teak

Every river I know with saltings has timber rubbish stranded near the high tide line, usually broken and ignored. A close look, however, tells a better story. Today’s flotsam is often a fragment of a very old boat, and the best of all is a piece of long-lasting teak.

It will look like scruffy, broken, unidentifiable, grey rubbish. But examined closely there may well be usable sections that can be cut into smaller pieces of timber. Old teak, cleaned and oiled, has a rich colour and patina that is impossible to reproduce with new wood.

It took 20 minutes strolling along the saltings high up the River Medina on the Isle of Wight to find what we were looking for: a chunk of teak, probably a fragment of a boat’s coachroof. It was about 6 feet long and jagged, but there were several undamaged sections within it.

Above is one of them: a mounting plate for a new chronometer and barometer on the saloon bulkhead. The teak was cut, the edges rounded, and then it was rubbed down and oiled.

These two instruments were retirement gifts, forgotten in a cupboard for a while, now handsomely displayed.

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