Refit project: Teak Deck

Five Senses in April 2017

First reaction from our carpenter after looking at the deck:

"This is a disaster!"

The condition of the teak deck was worse than I thought. Ultimately, it became clear that renovating the existing wooden deck was out of the question. Everything had to be exchanged!

Each deck material comes with its own specific characteristics and therefore has advantages and disadvantages. Wood is best known for its outstanding optical appearance. The feel is also unique and although a wooden deck offers good grip even when wet, it is still pleasant to walk on, even if it is supposed to be barefoot. In itself, a wooden deck is also very easy to maintain, since it should only be rinsed regularly with water. The use of various care products is controversial, I personally use an agent that prevents fungal and algae infestation and thus allows the wood to gray out naturally. As an important additional point, it must of course be said that essentially only teak wood can be used. So when buying, you have to trust sustainability certificates and make sure that you don't get illegally felled wood from protected forests. Even if teak is very robust and withstands the adverse conditions on a ship very well, it is ultimately a natural material that is worn out and therefore has a limited lifespan. Depending on the intensity of use and also on care, after 10-15 years you have to expect that a complex renovation will be necessary. This makes a teak deck a major cost factor when maintaining a ship.

My impressions before buying

The teak deck was heavily used, especially on the foredeck. The wood was rough, some had deeper furrows and was about 2mm below the level of the joint seal. The pages were also badly weathered. The cockpit showed a slightly better picture, but the floor was already worn. No wonder, after 12 years of charter operation, the boat was out for many weeks a year and for me this is proof of the resilience of a teak deck. My expectation was that you would be able to cut the joints and that you could get the deck back well by sanding. Unfortunately, this was not what our boat carpenter later explained to me.

Analysis of our boat carpenter

As such, our carpenter confirmed my assessments, with one crucial exception: renovation by grinding and cutting was not possible for the following reason: when laying the wooden flooring in the shipyard, screws were used to secure the teak on the deck before grouting to fix. Although originally sealed with joint dimensions, a bridge had been created between the surface and the inside of the boat. Especially as soon as the joint dimensions have been thinned out or damaged. Theoretically, water could penetrate. An assessment of whether this was already seen could not be made without removing the deck. However, you could already see some screw heads sticking out of the seal. So maybe water could get in here. Together with the poor condition of the wood layer and above all because of the screws, the clear recommendation was to completely replace the deck.

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Refit process

For such an undertaking, the boat has to be completely dismantled into a hall and the rig has to come off. For the ship size of the Five Senses, this is done using a crane and travel lift. In a first step, the old teak was completely removed. All fittings, hatches, etc. had to be unscrewed or removed if they were on the wood. So only the winches, some blocks and the helm remained untouched. In the responsible company, two people were busy with the demolition work for two weeks. After that, only the bare GRP was visible. It turned out that the deck was actually a bit leaky. However, water had only entered in small quantities. This shortcoming was remedied by the renovation. The guard rail was also renovated and most of the supports were renewed. A good investment in safety on board!

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Now the new wood could be laid. Every single plank, every single piece is made and adapted for its specific place. It takes a lot of experience, accuracy and love for the material. I had already looked at our carpenter's work as a reference and so I had complete confidence in his craftsmanship. I can only recommend everyone to do the same. If there is a lot of tampering with this step, this will result in a lot of damage, ultimately due to the customer's possible dissatisfaction. Fortunately, everything went very well for us and soon you could see the preliminary end result.

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The newly glued deck must dry thoroughly before the joints are cut and a final step, sanding. Such a newly installed deck is a dream and helps over the shock of the final bill. Good luck with your projects, if you have any questions please leave your comments below!

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