We recently stumbled across a lovely piece from the Seattle media site crosscut.com about authenticity. It stems form the author’s reflections exhibiting his self-built boats at the Port Townsend (WA) Wooden Boat Festival. He reflects on that tension we all, in the classic / traditional boat world, feel between the desire to have a boat that is “authentic” to its heritage but is practical and/or economical. I have excerpted some bon mots from it; it is well worth reading all the way through.
Here’s the principle: An authentic product is something that you, its creator or user, believe in. It may be as minor as a deck cleat or as monumental as a bill passing Congress. If you can’t believe in it, it’s no good.
Most of the boats in the festival are likewise. They’re not pure restorations or replicas; they’re practical, almost living creations that are full of their owners’ hearts and ideas and failures.
As long as you obey the laws of physics, you can build or restore a wooden boat exactly as you want… Your boat will not be ideal or perfect, but you’ll come to terms with this reality and view it as a tangible record of your character and skills at the time. You’ll have built yourself into the product of your work.
What could be more authentic than that?
I certainly found the piece spoke to me, especially as I wrestle with such tensions with my own boat. Excellent bit of philosophy.