Six days shalt thou labor and do all thou art able,
And on the seventh—holystone the decks and scrape the cable
- Richard Henry Dana
Do you still remember
Holystoning ancient decks and chipping away never ending rust
- Capt. Yusof Ahmad
Recently my friend Capt. Noor Apandi posted some photos of boats in his blog "Tampin Linggi "and remarked how he loved the wooden deck of one of the boats. The first thought that came to my mind was, well, perhaps not if you were the one who have to 'holystone' the damn thing every morning.
A holystone is a brick or a porous slab of sandstone used as an abrasive for keeping wooden decks snow-white. Every morning on board my pre-sea training ship Dufferin in Bombay many years ago, we junior cadets were made to go down on our knees in rows and scrub the wooden decks with holystones in a to and fro motion while the seniors (read: slave drivers) hose down with sea water and throw fistfuls of coarse sand on the deck and often into our eyes. We had to scrub until the sand become fine dust which is later hosed down again with fresh water. The decks are thereafter wiped, mopped and squeegeed until they shone. This really torturous and back breaking job was a real pain and became the bane of our existence throughout the entire junior year.