This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Ship's Clock

The coolest maritime store in Bellingham is Pacific Marine down on Holly Street. It is two floors of used boating artifacts from life preservers, to fishing gear to railings to old electronics, fittings, dinghies, crab pots and on and on--you name it and you can probably find it in some form or another somewhere in this shop.

I wander through it often as the merchandise is always changing, but especially this time of year as boaters begin thinking about working on their boats or ready them for a cruise somewhere. Out with the old and in with the new. The old often finds its way to Mike's place down on Holly.

Saturday I was on my way down to work on the Key of Sea when I decided to pull over at Pacific Marine and look for a fitting that would attach my new teak flag pole to the center stanchion on the aft end of the upper deck above my cockpit. I didn't find what I was looking for right away and so I wandered up front to ask for some help.

As I walked past a glass case piled high with new arrivals, I spied the brass case shape of a ship's clock. I stopped dead in my tracks and hefted the object carefully. It had to weigh 3 or 4 pounds. Solid brass and beautiful though with much tarnish and blemishes! A passing staff person stopped and asked if they could be of help. I casually asked it the clock was for sale knowing whether or not it was it would be very expensive!

Yes, came the answer but they were not sure how much they were selling it for. Mike, the owner of the shop happened by and said, "oh, yeah, its $75."

My jaw dropped. "What's the matter with it?"

Mike explained as he began unscrewing the face of the clock to show me the innards, that the original works of the clock had been removed and replaced with a modern quartz movement, greatly diminishing its value. But the original face and hands were still in tact and it kept perfect time. Just needed a new battery. He guaranteed it would work. If it were in mint condition with the original works it might have been worth several hundred dollars.

Sold! My biggest concern was that the heavily tarnished brass case would not clean up. Back to the boat with my new found treasure. I removed the clock works and then rummaged around in the locker where I keep cleaning materials to find my brass polish. I settled into a chair in the cock pit and began methodically rubbing out the blemishes and tarnish covering the clock. After only a few minutes of cleaning I realized it was going to clean up beautifully. Above is a photo of the clock about half way through the process.

Late afternoon I went to the hardware store, bought the three screws needed to mount the clock to the bulkhead and a new "C" cell battery. I will update this entry with the finished photo when I get it mounted to the bulkhead later this week.

No it isn't perfect and it doesn't have the original wind up innards, but what a beauty just the same and no one will ever know unless I tell them. I was planning to eventually buy a new brass ship's clock with the new quartz type works because I knew I could never afford one of the heavy brass wind up type. So I got the best of the old and the new and I'm perfectly happy.