SHIP’S SYS­TEMS

The op­tions abound

Marlin - - CONTENTS | DEPARTMENTS - BY CAPT. K ARL AN­DER­SON

Teak has long been a sta­ple on boats of all sizes. A durable, hard, clean­able tim­ber, ex­posed raw teak has served as the safest of all deck sur­faces on sail­ing, cruis­ing and fish­ing boats for lit­er­ally hun­dreds of years. The beauty of teak is that it also can be sealed and coated; with a qual­ity piece of teak and ac­tual var­nish, this can ex­pose the var­i­ous beau­ti­ful shades of red, gold, brown and tan as well as the nat­u­ral move­ment and grain of the tim­ber.

Teak is an ideal wood to use as trim ac­cents to break up large spans of paint known as bright­work. Trim pieces found on most cus­tom boats and some pro­duc­tion boats, such as the half round at the top of the house, aft bulk­head, helm pod, bridge cap rail, toe rails and cock­pit coam­ings, can all be sealed with mul­ti­ple coats of var­nish for a warm, clas­sic, up­scale look.

Many sport-fish­ing boats do not use teak on the cock­pit sole be­cause of cost and main­te­nance. How­ever, as with most things, there are sev­eral trade-offs. A teak deck of­fers much bet­ter foot­ing than a fiber­glass non­skid deck, and for the most part, it also hides foot­prints when get­ting on and off the boat. Teak decks also re­duce glare and re­flec­tion in the cock­pit, a wel­come ben­e­fit for any fish­ing crew that spends hours scan­ning the spread. Main­te­nance of a teak deck is re­ally very nom­i­nal, es­pe­cially when fish­ing a lot. We have found that once the deck is cleaned and bright­ened, us­ing a clean­ing pad across the grain at the end of the day keeps the teak look­ing fresh and clean un­til the next time it needs to be cleaned to re­move the gray tone and any dirt.

The var­nish side of main­te­nance is sim­i­lar to wax­ing, and no mat­ter what the sur­face, it has to be main­tained. If var­nish is kept up prop­erly it is not a ter­ri­bly cum­ber­some job. We have found that once stripped and sealed and

mul­ti­ple coats of var­nish are ap­plied to build up the cov­er­age and then covered with a clear coat, the var­nish will last much longer. How­ever, you must re-coat be­fore the first signs of craz­ing ap­pear; in the Flor­ida sun, that may be as short as eight months or as long as 11 months.

We use a high-qual­ity var­nish that builds up, ex­poses and main­tains the many colors of the teak, as op­posed to just ap­ply­ing the clear coats. Sim­ply ap­ply­ing a two- or three-part clear coat will change the color of the teak, light­en­ing and yel­low­ing over time or mut­ing the colors to a mono­tone look. This is sim­i­lar to many of the fight­ing chairs you see, which are coated with epoxy and have a life­less deep-brown ap­pear­ance.

PRE-MADE PAN­ELS

One cost-cut­ting so­lu­tion is the use of pre­man­u­fac­tured decks and in­te­rior floors of nat­u­ral teak. Teak-deck­ing Sys­tems, from Sara­sota, Flor­ida, has a mas­sive fac­tory that al­lows it to in­ven­tory huge quan­ti­ties of Asian teak tim­ber where they store, age, dry and mill it. The com­pany then as­sem­bles pan­els cut to the ex­act shape needed for decks, cov­er­ing boards, in­te­rior floor­ing, you name it.

It can run lengths up to 40 feet long that can be shaped to match the curve of any ves­sel through its patented shap­ing process. It mills the bat­tens, ar­ranges by length and lays out the sec­tion, then ap­plies a cus­tom-blended wa­ter­tight epoxy back­ing to se­cure the panel to­gether. They are de­greased and prepped with a bond breaker tape to as­sure proper ad­he­sion of the caulk. Once caulked, the pan­els are stored to al­low the caulk to cure prop­erly. Once dried, they are sanded and the fi­nal de­tails, such as drains, hatch trim and other de­tails, are drawn out prior to fi­nal cut­ting of the deck and trim pieces. When com­plete, the pan­els are ready for in­stal­la­tion on the ves­sel. This prod­uct al­lows builders and boat­yards to

con­tinue work­ing on other parts of the ves­sel with­out in­ter­rup­tion from clos­ing off the deck ar­eas, which is nec­es­sary when in­stalling a piece-by-piece teak deck. This is in­cred­i­bly smart for in­te­rior floor­ing sec­tions be­cause the fin­ished pre­fab pan­els can be in­stalled in a very timely man­ner.

HY­BRID TEAK

A new prod­uct on the mar­ket is from a com­pany called EuroDe­sign, from In­done­sia. The com­pany’s com­pos­ite teak deck­ing was cre­ated for pool decks and ma­rina dock deck­ing for a project in Dubai, United Arab Emi­rates. The com­pos­ite prod­uct is made of 60 per­cent re­cy­cled teak, 30 per­cent re­cy­cled plas­tic and 10 per­cent bind­ing ma­te­rial. In­ter­est­ingly, colors can be added to cre­ate the color of your choice but two stan­dard colors are of­fered: teak brown, which is a cleaned teak color, and weath­ered gray, which has the dull gray/sil­ver look of teak that has not been cleaned for some time and has been ex­posed to the el­e­ments.

This teak look-alike prod­uct can also be built in pre-man­u­fac­tured pan­els and fea­tures prop­er­ties of dura­bil­ity and low main­te­nance. It can come with or with­out caulk, al­low­ing you to get large spans with no sep­a­ra­tion or seams. It has an epoxy net back­ing as a stiff­ener and mois­ture bar­rier, and in­stal­la­tion of the pan­els or bat­tens is done in the same way as real teak deck­ing. The den­sity of this com­pos­ite is twice as much as solid teak, so it is made very thin, just 0.157 inch.

FAUX FAD

The first time I per­son­ally saw a faux-teak painted tran­som was some 10 years ago when Roy Merritt had his 33-foot

Caliban tran­som painted to look like tra­di­tional teak. Al­ways look­ing for ways to re­duce build time and main­te­nance, it took Merritt a while to get the process ac­cepted on a new boat, but now it is stan­dard prac­tice for many builders. At first, I was skep­ti­cal of his brain­storm, but once com­pleted, the re­sults on the 33 were im­pres­sive. It be­came a bit of a game to chal­lenge peo­ple to find the faux tran­som as they walked the line of boats un­der the shed at the sto­ried Merritt’s Boat and En­gine Works in Pom­pano Beach, Flor­ida. No one picked that tran­som as the coun­ter­feit one.

The ben­e­fits of the faux-teak paint job are the cost sav­ings of tim­ber and con­tin­ued an­nual main­te­nance. Ap­ply­ing the faux paint to cap rails, half round, tran­soms and toe rails is now be­com­ing com­mon prac­tice. Of course, the faux job is only as good as the painter. The crit­i­cal thing is to get the base color cor­rect; I have seen many vari­a­tions, but the darker the base, the more re­al­is­tic the faux seems to be.

One thing I’ve no­ticed is that back in the day, the finest crafts­men at Ry­bovich and Merritt would go to great lengths to join boards to­gether on tran­soms, helm pods or cock­pit wings so that you could barely see a seam. Now, the faux-paint artists go to great lengths to show a plank seam, as to give the il­lu­sion of real teak. Go fig­ure.

Make no mis­take: Faux-teak paint­ing is here to stay be­cause it can be covered with hard top­coats and waxed just like the rest of the boat. It is a gi­ant time­saver in the build process and also re­duces the ma­te­rial cost of the build. With the right artist, the re­sults are im­pres­sive.

There will al­ways be a use for real teak on boats, but with ad­vanced com­pos­ites, creative artistry and the drive to im­prove the boat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, other meth­ods will have a larger pres­ence in the boat­ing world as time goes on.

While there are many ben­e­fits of faux and syn­thetic teak prod­ucts and fin­ishes, many builders still pre­fer the tra­di­tional look of real wood, es­pe­cially on cock­pit bulk­heads (above) and helm pods (right).

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