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Old 12-12-2012, 03:22 PM   #1
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Teak Decks on a Grand Banks

We are contemplating moving up to a GB 42, and one concern we have is the abundance of teak planking on the decks. The age range of the examples we are considering is mid 80's to early 90's, so as far as I know they predate the glued down versions.

The previous maintenance will have a huge bearing on their condition, and hopefully the survey will give a reasonable sense of that. Horror stories abound re teak deck repairs but I've actually heard little about problems on GBs.

So my question is for GB owners in that age range (The boats, not the owners!):

Any problems with the teak decks?
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:07 PM   #2
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teak decks are teak decks, regardless of brand name on the side of the boat. Specific maintenance of individual boats is critical.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:27 PM   #3
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The teak decks on GBs are good quality to start with but like all teak decks, it's all about how they were cared for. If a previous owner tried to keep them "teak colored" all he will have accomplished is shortening the life of the teak.

The integrity of the deck seams is absolutely critical. That is where the bulk of the moisture can get under the planks. Once there, it can migrate down alongside the plank screws into the plywood core of the subdeck. American Marine/GB used a really good quality of wood in the subdeck core, but wood is wood and if moisture has been getting down there for some time, a GB subdeck is every bit as susceptible to rot as any other brand.

Our deck is about 40 years old now. It's not in the world's best condition, previous owners over-sanded it and some of the planks have developed crevicing which is usually traceable to scrubbing it with the grain instead of across it or power washing. We had the main deck regrooved and reseamed a few years after buying the boat, but while there are some seams today that need redoing for the most part it's held up surprisingly well.

Removing the teak deck from a GB lowers its resale value unless you find a buyer who REALLY hates teak decks. Most GB buyers and owners feel the teak deck is a big part of the boat's character. I have seen GBs with fiberglass replacement decks not sell until the buyer dropped the price by the cost of replacing the teak deck. For a 36' boat this can cost some $30,000 these days.

If you have questions about GBs I strongly suggest you join the GB owners forum. Grand Banks Owner's Resources There are people on that forum including some shipwrights and former yard owners with a vast wealth of experience and knowledge about these boats.

I will tell you this now having owned one for over 14 years. GBs are extremely well built boats, but they take a fair amount of maintenance to keep them that way if you want to retain their value. Up until the early 90s, GBs have a rainforest of teak trim on them and this can require a fair amount of upkeep, particularly in this wet climate. The decks are not maintenance-intense (unless they've been let go by previous owners) but they do require periodic cleaning, and they need to be cleaned the right way. And any seams that are starting to pull away from one side or the other of the groove, or plugs that go missing, should be dealt with immediately. However the deck needs to be bone dry when you do this, not an easy condition to have in our climate, unless you put the boat in a boathouse.

The multi-part windows have a number of ways they can leak. The upside is that they are easy to overhaul once you master the technique.

But the bottom line is that GBs are not a boat you can park and forget until the next time you take it out. Unless you keep it in a boathouse. We "screw around" with ours on a year round basis but because I work full time it's all we can to do keep up with the boat, let alone make progress.

In short, they are not inexpensive boats to own both in ongoing cost and in time, either yours or someone else's. Doing all the work yourself on decks, windows, brightwork, etc. can help keep the costs down of course, which is what we try to do, plus we simply enjoy working on the boat. But if you have to hire anything out, it ain't cheap because of the labor involved. For example in the mid-2000s the figure quoted to overhaul a leaking window by yards and the shipwrights in our marina who do this kind of work was a flat $1,000 per window. I have no idea what it is today. We do all our own windows--- which is actually kind of fun--- so we have not followed the hire-it-out costs of this job.

But join the forum and ask your questions there. You'll get good answers, particularly from Bob Lowe who used to own Oak Harbor Boatworks, a yard on Whidbey Island that specialized (and still does I think) in everything Grand Banks, both wood and glass.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:30 PM   #4
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I don't anything looks as nice as a well-seamed, well-oiled teak deck. They are very nice indeed.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:42 PM   #5
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I don't anything looks as nice as a well-seamed, well-oiled teak deck. They are very nice indeed.
Oiling a teak deck is one of the worst things you can do to it for a couple of reasons. If you want a teak deck, you better learn to love the color gray. Or silver if you want a more upscale name for the color.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:13 PM   #6
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Teak deck leak only because they have not been maintained as they give plenty of notice, missing bung/plugs, screws popping up, crack between the calking and the boards. Silver/natural decks are so UGLY! Same reason I color my hair!

Only takes a couple of hours yearly maintenance and applying new coat. Teak deck leak because of neglect. Learn what to look for and maintaine them.

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Old 12-12-2012, 05:31 PM   #7
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Like Marin said, learn to love the color silver. Virtually anything added to a teak deck, stains, oils, preservatives, etc. will dramatically shorten the life of the deck. Many have tried through the years and all have failed.

Also, like Marin suggested, join the Grand Banks Owner's forum and read the archives and ask questions. It's a friendly and knowledge group. The GB forum is the place to go where reinventing the wheel isn't necessary!
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:40 PM   #8
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Oiling a teak deck is one of the worst things you can do to it for a couple of reasons. If you want a teak deck, you better learn to love the color gray. Or silver if you want a more upscale name for the color.
Alas... again we disagree...

Nothing "wrong" with oiling a teak deck. If done properly, it's a beautiful look and takes literally a few hours to do. It's very nice to keep the beautiful color in the decks as well.

I live in covered mooring, so mine will last longer than most, so I don't mind. Tung oil doesn't shorten the life of teak in any way.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:51 PM   #9
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Sorry guys but you won't be hearing from me for a long time - the GB owner's forum has a LOT of great info to work through!

Thanks for directing me there Marin, and Ray for backing up his suggestion. It is very clear that if we go ahead with a GB as we are planning, the teak decks should be colour coordinated with my hair....

One thing I've learned here today is that if a proper survey is done that shows good past maintenance, we don't have to be so afraid of teak decks. Respectful, yes.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:00 PM   #10
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Sorry guys but you won't be hearing from me for a long time - the GB owner's forum has a LOT of great info to work through!

Thanks for directing me there Marin, and Ray for backing up his suggestion. It is very clear that if we go ahead with a GB as we are planning, the teak decks should be colour coordinated with my hair....

One thing I've learned here today is that if a proper survey is done that shows good past maintenance, we don't have to be so afraid of teak decks. Respectful, yes.
So is that grey or colored? Mennen 5 minutes works great.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:05 PM   #11
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We are contemplating moving up to a GB 42, and one concern we have is the abundance of teak planking on the decks. Horror stories abound re teak deck repairs but I've actually heard little about problems on GBs.
So my question is for GB owners in that age range (The boats, not the owners!):
Any problems with the teak decks?
I suggest you look at "IG Teak Decks" thread in the Halvorsen section of Makes.
My IG has been at the shipwrights having the decks redone for the last 6 weeks,consequently I have been boring TF subscribers to death. I was lucky to have foam sandwich decks. Teak replacement,without screws,is a long process. I have done the unprotected bow in non slip, not teak, this seems not uncommon. The process is time consuming and costly,so tread warily. Get a good survey, especially on decks.
To specific inquiry, one maker of caulking was strongly against applying oil finishes as it may damage the caulk. Damage the caulk,moisture gets in, you are in trouble
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:07 PM   #12
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Hey Phil...it would most definitely be grey! Or gray.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:47 PM   #13
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Alas... again we disagree...

Nothing "wrong" with oiling a teak deck.
I'm not going to argue with you because I have LONG since learned from people far more experrienced in the care and feeding of teak decks than everyone on this forum combined what works on a teak deck and what doesn't.

We bought a boat with a teak deck that had suffered bad treatment over the years so we wanted to learn everything we could about what it takes to keep them going as long as possible. We talked to or corresponded with former shipwrights who built GBs in the American Marine yards in Kowloon and Singapore. We bought and read books by some of the acknowleded experts in the field of marine wood care. I corresponed with people like Bob Lowe and Mike Negley who are the acknowledged GB experts on the planet today. I talked to the shipwrights charged with maintaing the big GB charter fleet in Bellingham. And over the years, many others.

And ALL of them told us or wrote exactly the same thing with regards to maximizing the longevity of a teak deck. There was no conflict whatsoever between what any of these people said or wrote even though they were from all aspects of the boat building and maintaing world.

We have been living with and maintaining our now-40 year old original deck for over fourteen years following the advice of all these people. I am happy to pass this advice on, but whether someone believes it or accepts is of no importance to me whatsoever. They're the ones who have to eventually deal with the consequences of what they do, not me.

With regards to oil on a teak deck, it does two things, both of them bad. Over time it migrates down into the wood and loosens the bond between the seam sealant and the wood on either side of the groove. As the deck planks work--- and they all do with humidity, temperature, the flexing of the boat, and you walking on it--- the sealant will then pull away from one side of the groove or the other and moisture will start getting down under the planks. And once that happens with a screwed-down deck, it's a pretty sure bet that moisture will eventually find it's way into the wood core of the subdeck.

The second thing oil on a teak does is trap dirt. And dirt mixed with the oil makes a first class cutting compound for wood. As you walk around on the deck you wil be wearing away the upper layers of wood cells. And teak is one of these woods that once something starts happening to wear away wood cells, they wear away at a pretty good clip.

The solution to both problems is don't use oil on the deck.

These and other things are why some people with mid-80s and even occasionally early 90s GBs come on the GB owners forum wondering why their decks are failing. In some cases they say they have to replace the deck, the boards have gotten so thin that the failing seams cannot be fixed because there is not enough wood left for the grooves to be recut.

And in every case that I can recall, after forum members who know what it takes to maxiimize the longevity of a teak deck ask them how they have been treating the deck, we learn that they have been oiling it, they have been sanding it, they have been using the so-called teak cleaners on it (which do exactly the same thing as sandpaper only chemically), they have been powerwashing it, they have been scrubbing it with bristle brushes with the grain, and so on. All things that either mess up the integrity of the deck seams or cause wood to go away.

Treating the deck properly is why the forum also has members with woodies built in the 1960s and 70s as well as fiberglass boats from the early 70s with original teak decks that are in excellent shape.

So do whatever you want to do. Coat it with oil if you think this is okay. But it's one of those things where no matter how much you've convinced yourself, 2 + 2 will never equal 5. The evidence and experience that prove it equals 4 is overwhelming.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:58 PM   #14
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I'm not going to argue with you...
Yes he is.

That said, I understand and I agree with you.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:10 PM   #15
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Yes he is.
Well, okay, you got me there. Although if someone comes back and disputes what I wrote, which was simply repeating what I've learned from a whole lot of experts, I'm not going to continue the argument as I've long since learned it is futile to argue that 2+2=4 with someone who's convinced it equals 5.

Does that work for you, sort of?
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:19 PM   #16
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(The Short Version.)
Got a teak deck? Leave it alone. Observe condition of caulking, and plugs, maintain as needed, until the inevitable.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:02 PM   #17
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Decks don't have to be teak to be gray. Opting out of the teak-deck option saved me a bundle.



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Old 12-12-2012, 08:07 PM   #18
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teak decks are teak decks, regardless of brand name on the side of the boat. Specific maintenance of individual boats is critical.
As this is a subject close to both my heart and pocket book at the moment, having just finished the every-five-year in my case complete re-caulking, re-bunging and light sanding (in addition to any ad hoc needs which have been few) of an extensive teak deck on my boat. Let me first say that the first sentence above is categorically wrong. Teak decks have different thickness, different quality of the wood itself, and vastly different methods and competency of installation. The second sentence is very true.

Now that is out of my system, I will join in on saying that keeping decks natural is the way to go. Oiling or sealing reduces the non-skid properties, often attracts more dirt, and drives more maintenance which drives more wear on the deck and caulking. There is a reason the Navy, which loves to put paint or coatings on anything, kept the huge teak decks on their battleships natural. And why fishing intensive boats (including the high dollar custom sportfish guys) do the same, or ocean crossing sailboats. Or me.

Back to the OP, we used to charter a few different GBs. Always had nice looking, solid feeling decks.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:17 PM   #19
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Six days shalt thou labor and do all thou art able, And on the seventh—holystone the decks and scrape the cable. —Richard Henry Dana

From Wikipedia:

"According to one source, holystoning was banned in the US Navy by General Order Number 215 of 5 March 1931, as it wore down the decks too rapidly and caused excessive expense to replace the deck."

..........


"A 1952 graduate of the Naval Academy (Val Smith) states that he holystoned the deck of the Missouri on his Youngster (sophomore) cruise to England in the summer of 1949. It was with a stick in the depression of what we[who?] were told was brick normally used as insulation in the boilers. A group of 30–40 would stand behind an estimated 4–5-inch board and would move the brick back and forth in coordination with the others while the person in charge would establish the cadence, and then command 'shift' when we would all back up one board and repeat the process. As I[who?] recall, sea water and sand were used to aid the effort. The result, once finished with a sea water rinse and a sun bleach, was a clean white deck, just in time for our arrival in Portsmouth England."
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:30 PM   #20
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Yep, clean salt water, and these days, a soft brush will do. Want to look spiffy mix with a little sudsy ammonia but it will take some teak with it.
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