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Old 04-22-2019, 10:42 PM   #1
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Teak decks —. Problems??

I have been looking at a couple of trawler boats that have teak decks...one I was very interested in but was reluctant to place an offer because of the decks and the fact that it still has the original fuel tanks. I am concerned that the decks leak or will and lead to the demise of the tanks. I was wondering what others think about my reluctance and their experience and/or advice on the subject of teak decking and the million screws holding them down. Am I overreacting? Do I have a legit concern? The boat is a 36ft Albin. Thanks cliff
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:51 PM   #2
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Our present boat is the first one that has had teak decks and thankfully they are only on the sundeck. The caulking was going bad last fall so silly me I thought no big deal I will recaulk the teak decks over the winter. Oh my, the labor has been incredible and all on my knees. I have not kept absolutely accurate track of the hours but I believe it is approaching 200+ hours in reefing out the caulk, sanding the grooves, sanding the teak, taping, caulking and now sanding the excess caulk off and then sealing the teak. I never realized how much labor there was. If I had known at the start I would probably have ripped off the teak and glassed the decks. And my decks were not leaking just in need of recaulking. I would never buy another boat with teak decks unless I got such a deal that I could rip off the teak and glass the decks.
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:41 PM   #3
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I bought an old boat with teak decks. There were no soft spots or signs of leaking, but when planning I just assumed I would have to spend $20k on them in the first 5 years I owned the boat. If it did not make sense with that $20k included I would have kept looking. If there were major signs of problems I would have kept looking too.

I also figured $20k for the fuel tanks. I am not sure about the Albins, but for my brand of boat, the fuel tanks is a very common repair. If it has not alreay been done, I would include it in the planning if a large number of owners of your vintage of boat have had to do it.
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:55 PM   #4
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Teak decks . . . oh man, this is a subject about which books could be written.

So, starting with the condensed version: Teak decks often cause leaks. Leaks lead to problems. Thus, if you want to avoid the probability (not the certainty) of problems, avoid teak decks.

The longer version: Some boats (like the 34' CHB 1979 I owned for 10+ years) had teak decks that were screwed down to the fiberglass decks that the boat was laid up with. As a result you ended up with a perfectly good fiberglass deck that had about 1,000 holes punched in it with screws, then they tried to make the deck waterproof by caulking the seams between the teak board (because caulk lasts forever, right?).

You can imagine: this situation sucks. You have a leak that's dripping on your forehead as you lay asleep in the bunk. But where is that leak coming from? You cannot assume it's from a point on the deck directly above your bunk, because the leak might be all the way on the bow, and the water is running under the teak boards to find the hole just above your bunk.

So, as I understand it, not all boats are built like the CHB I owned. Some have decks that are not screw pierced even if they have teak decks on the surface. Some do. I have no way of advising you which is which. Perhaps others might.

If you decide to buy a boat with teak decks that has leaks, two bits of advice.

1: Find the leak hack: Take a hatch off at the hinges. Cut a bit of plywood into the hatch shape and secure it to the opening. Cut a narrow oval opening into the plywood that matches the "mouth" of those high volume drying fans that they use to dry out carpet after a flood (most tool rental places rent them). Close all the hatches, stick the fan mouth into the hole, turn it on, and then slop soapy water all over the outside of the boat. Wherever bubbles form, there is your leak. Caulk the crap out of that area.

2: When you're tired of fighting leaks, do what I did: Coat the teak decks with truck bed liner. Sand the decks, cover them (or store the boat in a warehouse if possible) so that they can dry out. Then cover them with a Rhino Liner clone that you can self-apply (there are a lot of them). Works great. It's grippy, flexible, waterproof, and durable.

YMMV.

Luck!

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Old 04-23-2019, 10:41 AM   #5
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cbouch,
When my wife and I were boat hunting, screwed down teak decks (although beautiful) were on our "avoid at all costs" list. In other words, a deal breaker. Thousands (at least hundreds) of potential leak points that, if not leaking now, will someday!!! The decks would probably be cored, so water soaked coring is another potential issue. If you have to pay someone to repair all of this it could be very expensive. If you are able and willing to do it yourself, plan on LOTS of work and LOTS of time on your hands and knees.
Another option to consider (if you enjoy this type of work) would be to take an area every year or 2 at most and remove all of the teak plugs and screws, and replace and rebed (meaning recaulk as well). Then install new plugs. In this way you could "redo" the entire decking system a bit at a time, every 8 years or so, hopefully avoiding any leaks. Prevention is way better than finding and dealing with leaks.

Dave's idea scares the crap out of me, from both a look and a durability point of view. Too many unanswered (untried meaning standing the test of time) questions for me.
Anyway, all of those concerns and the huge amount of work would not be my "cup of tea" and we looked for and found a boat with no teak decks. There are lots of them out there.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:55 AM   #6
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A long time ago Nancy Sinatra had a hit song..these boots are made for walking...thanks all of you for the advice...you have confirmed my worst fears..and I am walking. Cliff
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:26 PM   #7
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A long time ago Nancy Sinatra had a hit song..these boots are made for walking...thanks all of you for the advice...you have confirmed my worst fears..and I am walking. Cliff



Unfortunately, as good looking as they are, teak decks on older boats are too much of a minefield. When I was looking, it was on my my list of must have NOTS.


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Old 04-23-2019, 01:17 PM   #8
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Many years ago in PMM there was an article about spraying on truck bedliner over teak decks. He had a commercial company do the bed liner. It looked somewhat industrial but not bad overall. I spoke to the boat owner 4 or 5 years later and he said it was still in great condition. Stopped all his leaks and was good nonskid. I know there is a company in the Tampa or Saratoga Springs area that does Linex bedliner on boats. He says he uses a special formula that is UV resistant. I have glass decks except for my sundeck. It had countless stress cracking in the gel coat all over the nonskid decking. I sanded the nonskid off and painted the decks with Kiwigrip. Kiwigrip covered the stress cracking and is very durable.
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:46 PM   #9
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Ahhhrgh... now you guys tell me teak decks are bad!

Just kidding. I was in the same boat. I swore to myself to never buy a boat with teak decks and acres of varnish. Read all the horror stories. And then I bought a 20 year old GB52.

Decks look fine, no leaks but I'm sure there will be some maintenance required the next 10 years. Telling my wife she needs to learn how to varnish. I don't have the patience for it.
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:04 PM   #10
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Ahhhrgh... now you guys tell me teak decks are bad!

Just kidding. I was in the same boat. I swore to myself to never buy a boat with teak decks and acres of varnish. Read all the horror stories. And then I bought a 20 year old GB52.

Decks look fine, no leaks but I'm sure there will be some maintenance required the next 10 years. Telling my wife she needs to learn how to varnish. I don't have the patience for it.
After 39 yrs, my teak decks are still OK. Yes, there are a couple of boards that have worn away more than they should, but only a couple. The rest are going to be fine for quite a while. I have screwed and plugged fastening, and so far, no failures. When I bought the boat, 26 yrs ago, the broker hosed the decks and as they dried, noted that there were no signs of leaking, as everything dried properly. Any wet spots would be an indication that water was remaining where it shouldn't.
I learned right away to avoid chemical cleaners, as they erode the softer wood quickly and there is no fix once that has happened. Clean occasionally with a soft brush and mild detergent. Varnish around the perimeter of the deck and, if you have a "king" board up the middle of the foredeck, varnish is permissible there. Otherwise, let the decks go gray and they will give you good service.
A friend with GB teak decks doesn't have a wider perimeter board or a King board, so if yours look like his, no varnish at all.
On mine, the varnish prevents any wear on the perimeter and king, so gives me a good reference to see if, or how much the rest of the decks are wearing. So far, no measurable difference, but for the boards I noted at the beginning.
If I was in the market, a good survey would tell me what I would want to know about the decks. I wouldn't rely on Chicken Little on the internet.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:05 PM   #11
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Keith,
I am very happy to hear that your decks are working well for you and have lasted as long as they have. I am also sure that having a good maintenance and cleaning regime, starting from day 1 and continuing onward would help with longevity.
However, after reading many horror stories from teak deck owners, talking at length with owners and many yacht brokers, including ones who have respresented Grand Banks for years, I will stick to my opinion on teak decks. Pretty, but not for me. Different strokes for different folks. I have enough maintenance without all the work involved with varnishing and teak decks. I prefer to relax and just enjoy the scenery instead.
I don't think this opinion is "reactionary" but is just based on the experience of many others and a reasonable degree of caution (as well as an aversion to extra work )
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:32 PM   #12
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I`ve been through the removal/replacement process. No fun and expensive. But in fairness, assess each boat on its own merits. For example, my 1981 boat surprised by having foam sandwich decks, not the usual rotting teak.
Most boats which have teak fitted now are part only teak. The cockpit, maybe side decks especially if covered Europa style, but usually not the totally unprotected foredeck.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:52 PM   #13
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I bought an old boat with teak decks. There were no soft spots or signs of leaking, but when planning I just assumed I would have to spend $20k on them in the first 5 years I owned the boat. If it did not make sense with that $20k included I would have kept looking. If there were major signs of problems I would have kept looking too.

I also figured $20k for the fuel tanks. I am not sure about the Albins, but for my brand of boat, the fuel tanks is a very common repair. If it has not alreay been done, I would include it in the planning if a large number of owners of your vintage of boat have had to do it.

This is the right approach. There might be other known issues to factor in eg GB's and their leaking windows. Any of these items have been properly fixed by a PO or you will likely need to do it. If the latter, it is a negotiating point and should be reflected in price. It's not that big a deal really. All old boats will have a few things that will need work, just make allowance for it in your budgeting.

I've replaced fuel tanks and my foredeck teak. It was about 92 sq ft and there were 974 screws. I removed the teak and hardware then the yard removed the core, and put down new core, 'glass and non-skid. Yard cost was $17k, vs surveyors estimate at time of purchase of $15k.
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Old 04-23-2019, 10:08 PM   #14
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If you really want to find out the condition of your deck and core, forget about moisture meters, get out your multitool and pick several out of the way areas, carefully cut a small core sample removing each layer. Stop after the core and do not cut into the last layer of glass. If your boat was made in Taiwan and from the 80s you will see wet core. If there are no leaks, to the cabin underneath, and and the deck is firm and you like teak decks, epoxy the sample back in place and ignore the wet core. If it bothers you replace it. Let's face it, 90% of boats made in the eighties with teak screw down decks have water penetration into the core. It was all that disco dancing!
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:14 AM   #15
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Teak decks —. Problems??

On the other hand, if you’re handy you can save about $15K off a $20K discount on the boat. Of course you need to be willing to tear up your decks but it’s not too hard, just time consuming.

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Old 04-25-2019, 11:09 PM   #16
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cbouch,

Dave's idea scares the crap out of me, from both a look and a durability point of view. Too many unanswered (untried meaning standing the test of time) questions for me.
It was scary to try, but we were just DONE with the leaks. As it turned out, it worked great. It didn't look too bad (got a tan colored liner that kinda looked "teaky"), and stopped all the leaks for the six years I owned the boat afterwards.

One thing I did have going for me that others might not is that I kept the boat in a warehouse for the Alaskan winter (essentially 8 months), but sanded the decks with 60 grit belt sander when I put her up. This allowed the decks to be completely bone dry before I coated them. If you don't have the ability to do this, I would worry about trapped water in the wood causing seal problems.

YMMV

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Old 04-30-2019, 08:09 PM   #17
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Inspect tops of all tanks from below deck ....if corrosion rusting evident on tops move on. You just confirmed decks leak and tanks have exterior deterioration .
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:12 PM   #18
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Inspect tops of all tanks from below deck ....if corrosion rusting evident on tops move on. You just confirmed decks leak and tanks have exterior deterioration .
If the tank rust is top surface only, the life of the tanks may be extended by treating with POR or similar rust treatment.
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:47 PM   #19
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Inspect tops of all tanks from below deck ....if corrosion rusting evident on tops move on. You just confirmed decks leak and tanks have exterior deterioration .
You can have perfectly sound decks with a bad or deteriorated seal around the fuel tank deck fill. This is,easily,repaired.
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Old 05-02-2019, 06:49 PM   #20
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My decks are steel. They are due for repainting to avoid rust, a much less task, I believe than taking care of those beautiful teak decks with their plugs and leaks and such.
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