To anyone that has been around the boating world, other than the words "Repower", "Sinking" or "Pirates" perhaps there isn't a phrase that strikes as much fear into the boat owners heart as the phrase "Teak Deck Removal". And for good reason, because typically the job can start an almost never ending cascade of projects, work and money spent oftentimes culminating in a Boat For Sale ad on Craigslist.
Since we have no other place to live, I'm safe from the For Sale Ad, but as we started the project this weekend, I'm pretty sure we have no shortage of money spent and work ahead of us. I say US rather than Me, Myself and I because as a father, one of my primary jobs is to teach my son life lessons. What better a way to teach Jason a valuable life lesson than spending the summer of his Jr Year ripping off and then reinstalling a new deck. The lesson of course is what I always would say, but then ultimately didn't follow myself: "Don't buy a Boat with a Teak Deck".
Teak decks leak.
Not sometimes, but always.
So no matter how nice they look and how much the previous owner lies to you about how dry and solid they are, they either have leaked or will leak. Ok, so what, you can just patch them up and put bowl to catch the water right? Ha ha ha...oh if only it was so easy. See once water leaks underneath a teak deck, the water gets into what is known as the "Core" which on boats built back in 1977 was, as Jason describes, a Balsawood and fiberglass lasagna or make that a wet lasagna. The teak slats are attached to top fiberglass layer with screws, thousands of them and each screw hole is a leak point. Once the core gets wet you have two basic choices.
1) Act like you don't know it is wet and just remove the teak planks and add more fiberglass to the top, followed by new paint and deck grip.
2) Rip out the entire deck including the wet and rotten core and replace it all with new marine plywood and fiberglass then paint and put on the new deck grip.
As tempting as it is to go with Option 1 and then sell the boat as soon as the job is finished, we plan on keeping THIRD DAY for many more years to come, so we just have to bite the bullet and take the red pill and as Morpheus said, "see how deep the rabbit hole goes".
This is the type of project that end relationships, busts cruise dreams and certainly could send lesser crews swimming for a house ashore, so I figure by sharing the story if I turn up missing people will at least know a motive!
So first you pry up some of the teak planks and you expose the top layer of the fiberglass and balsa wood lasagna. The black goo on top of the fiberglass is the adhesive that helped hold down the teak
Now we need to find out what is under that top layer of fiberglass, so we need to cut a hole. We hope to find nice dry 39yr old balsa wood. Call me Capt Dreamer.
The moment of truth (or sorrow) is when we pulled up the test patch and found sopping wet balsa wood.
So now that we know our fate (a complete core removal and replacement) the question became what is the fastest way to get it up...ah hello Mr Skilsaw
We adjusted the depth of the blade and the Skilsaw cuts through the teak planks and top layer of fiberglass like butter, so then "all we have to do" it scrape out the wet soggy balsa wood core to expose the bottom later of fiberglass.
I guess the good news is that the Skilsaw approach should go pretty fast, the bad news is that the deck of this barge is HUGE.
Tearing stuff up is always the easy part, so once all the old teak deck is cut away, the real work will begin of putting in layers of fiberglass and marine plywood (or FRP Core material) to built it back up.
The Goal is to have her put back together with the top coat paint and new Kiwigrip tread rolled on before school starts at the end of this summer when I lose Jason back to school. I'm sure this will be one summer that Jason will be happy when school starts up again!