Subject: Keeping Up Teak Decks
Date: Wed, 08 Apr 1998

Dr. Rot,

What a find! I love your 'zine! This should be an easy one for you. I'm purchasing a 1980 Cheoy Lee sloop with teak decks in good shape. There are no bungs missing or raised, and the deck surface looks relatively smooth and silver/gray. The planking is 3/8" thick, screwed through the fiberglass deck molding into a plywood core. The black sealer (thiokol?) between planks appears to be in good shape generally, but there is some indication of leaking at the cabin hull liner beneath the aft toerails. My surveyor thought the decks looked good. After fixing the minor leak at the aft toerails, how do I keep them that way?

Dennis McC.

Thanks for the compliment. The lady who created it happened to be leaning over my shoulder when I opened your post -- she smiled and said to say *Thank you!*

You're fortunate to have bought a well constructed boat. 3/8" teak decks are not put on the more recent boats (much thinner -- won't really hold the bungs), and the glass over the wood core is thin. The result is leaking into the plywood, which of course rots, and then you have a hell of a mess! And this is what you need to be cautious about -- don't let water get through the screws and into the ply core.

It sounds like you're okay so far. Be careful about hard scrubbing on the teak. It wears it away and it just gets thinner and the bungs start to come out. If it's uneven and you want to smooth it out, use a razor-sharp chisel to knock down the high spots. If you want it clean and bright, use one of the teak cleaners you can find in a boat store. For me, when I had a boat with planked teak decks, I finally gave up and just let it be the natural gray-silver it wants to be.

Whenever you have a leak that looks as if it might be getting into the plywood, I'd suggest that you apply some of our Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES) to the area. Let it soak in. It will follow the same paths as the water, the solvents evaporate away and the epoxy cure. Resists rot. If a bung comes out, again apply the CPES to the area, again letting as much soak in as it will take. Then glue the bung back. For caulking, we recommend the 3-M 5200 or 4200, both being polyurethane caulks that will bond with epoxies.

Come back if you have more questions, and have happy days with your new boat. Choy Lee built good boats.