Am I Addicted To My Woody Boat?

Man O’ Man that smells good

You may think I am kidding around. I am not. And I think I might have a problem. See there is this thing called “Inhalant Addiction”. See, not kidding, it’s a real thing. Not just kids smelling spray paint or glue. But old white guys smelling varnish in the work shop. Here is a little video to take it all in.


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I swear a get a high when I smell even a wiff of the stuff. And I like it. LOVE IT. It takes me on a wonderful trip, to summer, lakes, time with my bride and dogs. Family joy, and can generally put me in a good mood for a bit of time.


Your nose can be a wonderful gateway to your memory. Good and bad. So this winter, maybe, just maybe when things get a little rough, maybe open up a can of varnish in the garage. Do not sniff to much, brain dead isnt a good thing. But a wiff here and there. Especialy when the visual glory of a wet coat is involved. All your senses are complete.

Grabbing a sniff

But this is just varnish. There are other factors. Like musty smell of a boat being in a barn for the winter. Or that first glance at the burgee flying in the wind. The sweet sound of a flathead starting.. STARTING! not cranking.. Starting up. The rumble of it all.


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The glisten of the gold leaf on a wonderful transom. The authentic colors that show that history was far from being black and white. The slight imperfections that say, I had a real human build me. Maybe one in a bad mood that day, or good mood. The smell of warm oil, the smell of exhaust, all of it coming together to create a perfume of passion. Like Sex Panther. 60% of the time, it works every time. BTW, you can buy it now. HERE

15 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    You did not mention raw hydrocarbons out of the straight through exhaust and hot oil vapor backing out of the breather.
    Those are also part or that magic aroma when underway. Enjoy!

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I am siding with Greg. The mix of exhaust and unburnt fuel coming out the tail pipe from a rich mixture plus the smell of combustion and hot oil coming through the blow by are important and lasting smells beyond the simple and fleeting smell of fresh varnish.

  3. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    yeah!, This is all so true. Add the musty smell of old canvas and stinking seaweed. I’m a car guy too and am addicted to the smell of bondo also.

  4. briant
    briant says:

    Addicted? Woody Boat?

    Not sure about sniffing….but like a junkie I just bought another fix…

    A new trailer for the mistress !

  5. George Emmanuel
    George Emmanuel says:

    Anything beats the smell of dampness and mildew here in Florida right now. I’d love to be spreading some varnish!

  6. Arnie
    Arnie says:

    Man, the Old Spice got me – my Dad gone for over 45 yrs, college and just a good splash in the morning!! Olfactory is very deeply ingrained!

  7. Martin Field
    Martin Field says:

    BILGE, gentlemen…that indefinable smell of damp, oil slicks, grease, everything you’d rather not have in the bowels of your boat. It’s so strong sometimes you get it OUTside. I once had to see a silversmith who had a studio above Tough’s boatyard in Teddington, west of London, on the Thames. There were old boats standing on the Hard there and I was over the gunnels and breathin’ deep in every one and they all, even outside, stunk of bilge and I was in my element! The moron I was visiting didn’t even know that his landlord had been the owner of the yard where all the Dunkirk “Little Ships” were readied for their famous trips to the French coast and back to rescue soldiers. I told him where to shove his manky silverwork!

  8. Tom Gruenauer
    Tom Gruenauer says:

    I have a wiring harness out of an old Chris-Craft that ended up in my office at work, that musty old wooden smell will tap me on the shoulder one in a while. I also will place a block of cedar on the humidifier in my shop to remind of the boat shops in Canada.

  9. Cincinnati Kid
    Cincinnati Kid says:

    It’s all visceral.
    The sights, the smells, the sounds of an old marina or an old boat can and will overwhelm anyone with a pulse.
    Two thumbs tapping away on small screen will never come close to nirvana……….

  10. Floyd r turbo
    Floyd r turbo says:

    The smell of paint, varnish and bilge from a woody in early spring refit is my holy grail next to the old leather from a Cadillac, Jag, or my BMW wagon. And then there’s that smell of a tallboy Budweiser being opened in a 57 Chevy in the middle of a Rhode Island winter that smells like fresh baked bread I’ve never smelled that particular aroma since 1967 when we were sneaking beer before the high school sock hop.

    “Oo-oo that smell,
    can’t you smell that smell?
    Oo-oo that smell,
    the smell of death’s around you.
    One little problem that confronts you,
    Got a monkey on your back.
    Just one more fix, Lord, might do the trick.
    One hell of a price for you to get your kicks.” Lyrics copywrited courtesy of Lynyrd Skynyrd

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