So, what makes a boat smell like a boat?? . . . that musty boat-smell to it that reminds one of the wide blue oceans and all that other soppy romantic stuff...
Relative to boats, sight conveys an immediate reaction from my brain - enabling a quick and distant judgement of pleasure or disdain. I interpret these images to the various shapes, proportions, colors and textures which have become pleasing to my mind's eye, such as stored memories of classic sailing yachts. Like the sense of touch, these are tangible sensory associations which are easy to comprehend.
Upon boarding a boat however, my senses of smell and taste ( since they are both closely linked ) are perhaps the most enigmatic - stimulating a more complex mix of associations. Although I often pondered the source of these sensations - the derived associations are typically of pleasant experiences on the water.
It's funny though, to recall how different some of our past boats have smelled, while still having similar effects. The boat before our last, was a brand new production model consisting mostly of fiberglass, canvas, stainless steel and vinyl. When first unzipping the new boat's cockpit canvas enclosure on a warm summer's morning, the odors became locked away - only to ultimately become associated to many years of fun and adventurous times spent on the ocean - and at dock.
The smells from our last boat however, were totally unlike the boat before, with a vastly different medley of pleasant odors. Stepping onboard on a damp morning, the natural decks emitted an earthy teak scent, while an arid smell of wet rope and musty canvas permeated the air, laced with the underlying bite of crusted salt over varnished teak brightwork.
Upon sliding open the teak pilothouse doors, a pleasing scent of aged teak and varnish wafted through the stagnant air. Like tasting a glass of fine vintage wine, successive layers laced with the smell of old paper charts, faint but pleasing diesel scents, odors of lamp oil and permeated sea salt stimulated the senses. Even the subtle head odors released upon opening each teak door to the heads, evoked pleasing responses.
We have yet to find a combination of smells that even comes close to being reminiscent of our boats and times spent aboard - I truly do miss that boat smell.