A ship on shore is something mystical. On my way to the dock, from the other side of the canal, I was looking up at Tres Hombres majestic bow, coated with a fresh layer of anti-fowl, in a deeper colour than before. It’s odd that even though a ship, when ashore, is pulled out of her natural habitat, she seems more formidable and not at all out of place. This is especially true for sailing vessels. I imagined her being released and instead of gliding back into the water, she would gracefully take to the sky and circle den Helder, brightening the town’s grey skies.
We met again, the ship and I. It was a moving and joyful event. The brave crew arrived on a chilly, drizzly November day wearing shorts and T-shirts; it was the end of the summer trip after all. The amount of highly motivated, skilled and inspiring people coming to volunteer on her refit is a hallmark to what a special ship she is. Unfortunately for me, I have only had the chance to help out for a few days due to responsibilities elsewhere.
When sailing, vanity becomes an utterly alien phenomenon. Who would you be trying to impress?
However, it wasn’t long after I reached land that I realized something remarkable had happened to my exterior. I was being observed in different way. And sure, despite the lack of trimming and ironing shirts, I think being at sea had had some wonderful effects on my skin, my hair and my posture. It may also have been a different look in my eyes, the absence of social media and the whispers of wise nymphs if I listened well making me a more earnest man.
Some conscious experiments to my looks were initiated due to my trip, though. Some carefully applied changes that I still thankfully play around with to further please the people around me with my dashing appearance. One of them is the appliance of nail polish. Another trainee, when we met, was wearing it in a charming metallic tone, matching the colour of his hair, and pulling. it. off. Delightful.
The next is a certain facial trim. I would never have thought that a mustache would be a look for me. Had tried it once, hated it. But during one of those nights in port that inevitably lead to mischief, all of the men on board were shaven. Apart from their mustaches, obviously. Of course we had our fun but in the morning, with a slight headache, I resolutely marched to the port’s sanitary facility with my clipper to finish the job. After one look in the mirror I decided against it. “Who’s that handsome sailor?” I thought.
During my days at the refit, I spent most of my working hours busting rust with a needle gun. This is not particularly a comfortable job, especially when trying to reach corners of the floors in the bottom of the bilge. It is also not quite a sterile job. And despite the respirator, ear muffs and face shield, some dust may have landed on my visage. And yet another time, after stepping from the ship and standing in front of a mirror, I discover something that works well on me. In this case: eye shadow. Really brings out the aquamarine pupils. And it wasn’t just me. All the other volunteers seemed to love it. Who would’ve guessed?
The most intense kind of beauty is effortless, coincidental and comes from doing what you love.