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Disastrous Effects of Corrosion

Graphics by Hannah Welch
Graphics by Hannah Welch

Every boat owner knows about the potentially disastrous effects of corrosion. After a while all metals will corrode. Stainless steel is often touted as a metal that will resist corrosion but its very name rightly denounces this claim. Stainless means just that: it will stain less but not be stain free. Of course there are various acids, sprays, jellies and greases that will delay oxidation. There may be one metal that can qualify as having anti corrosion qualities and that’s gold – but I haven’t seen a marine use for it – except perhaps in the dental work of Jack Sparrow.

‘The Golden Years’ is a term describing the time after retirement when persons, perhaps couples, can enjoy their autumnal years partaking in a pastime dreamt of during a lifetime of work. This dream often involves buying a boat, harnessing the wind and sailing, free as a bird, to a tropical paradise, etc. As a sailing instructor Charlie sometimes admires these oldies’ expectations and he’ll give them all the encouragement he can. Certain physical limitations can be overcome by clever techniques. Hoisting the anchor is no longer a concern with an efficient windlass. Sails can be sheeted in with electric winches and dinghies can be pulled up with falls and davits. But with all the aids in the world there is still the bending, climbing and crawling (in and out of tight spaces), and the inevitable gymnastics required to fix engine problems where not even a yogi could perform. All these required tenets are a handicap for the creaking elderly.

And then there is the diet that oldies consume. Charlie was amazed recently when one charming old fellow started his day with the consumption of a variety of pills, tablets and capsules selected from a compartmentalized tray. When Charlie looked on inquisitively, the gentleman explained: “This one is for blood pressure, this one for cholesterol, this one for gout and these are for arthritis. I have to be careful – there are side effects: dizziness, stomach bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, shortness of breath and possible depression. Once I took a heavy dose of laxative and several sleeping pills – both pills worked but the result was not pleasant.”

“Whoa,” exclaimed Charlie, “ever tried bush tea?”

The fact is that corrosion begins to set in after retirement age. Old sports injuries start to calcify causing arthritis, arteries harden, plaque builds up and blood pressure increases, organs like kidneys and the liver deteriorate and often the much touted meds deteriorate them more quickly. And then there’s the dreaded cancer in all its nasty forms. No, it’s no fun getting old. So what’s the solution?

The answer is to start sailing sooner. Plan a sailing cruise by your mid fifties. “There’s no better way to enjoy the fruits of your lifetime’s labor than to cruise to exotic shores,” explains Charlie. “The wind calls the tune and you are the master of your destiny.”

‘The Golden Years’ are a misnomer. They are better described as the ‘Rusty Years’. Get the most out of life and ‘Do it now!’

Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

Every boat owner knows about the potentially disastrous effects of corrosion. After a while all metals will corrode. Stainless steel is often touted as a metal that will resist corrosion but its very name rightly denounces this claim. Stainless means just that: it will stain less but not be stain free. Of course there are various acids, sprays, jellies and greases that will delay oxidation. There may be one metal that can qualify as having anti corrosion qualities and that’s gold – but I haven’t seen a marine use for it – except perhaps in the dental work of Jack…

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