The Passport Project: Part 17 (Dry, new decks)

Shipwright Rob Parish applies fairing compound after ripping up the teak decks on our boat.

There is a point in any major boat project, it seems, when after a crapload of work, you feel you are farther away from finishing the project than ever.

So it was with removing the teak decks aboard our 1985 Passport 40, Meridian.

I previous wrote about why we chose to remove the overlay decks and the process for getting the work done.

After the teak was ripped up, I gazed at the naked fiberglass and wondered if it would ever really look good again. Our shipwright, Rob Parish, seemed unfazed by the work ahead. And he assured us that indeed, progress would be apparent soon.

Working with Rob, we began by sanding off all the residue from the teak decks and seam compound. It was dusty, dirty work, and I found myself looking back longingly for the good old days of pulling the teak decks off.

But we recognized that getting the decks cleaned and prepped was critical. After the initial sanding, we turned our attention to filling in the holes left by the screws.

The holes in the fiberglass were countersunk before they were filled to create a better bonding surface.

This was an important part of the process — the thing that would ultimately restore watertightness to the decks.

Once again, we followed Rob’s lead. Each of the holes was drilled out and then countersunk. This was done to create a better bonding surface for the epoxy we would use to seal the holes.

We then vacuumed out each of the holes and prepped them further with a wipe of acetone.

Rob prepared the epoxy filling compound and with speed and dexterity, filled hole after hole on deck. Once that work was completed and allowed to properly cure, we moved to the final stage of prep.

With the teak overlay gone, we needed to make sure the fiberglass was smooth and fair. Rob prepared his favorite epoxy fairing compound. He smoothed it on after the decks were thoroughly cleaned and prepped, and then allowed it to cure.

Seeing the holes being filled was reassuring.

Working outside in a Northwest spring, we had expected weather delays. But luckily, we were enjoying the best run of dry weather that I could recall.

Before we could get to the final stage, we needed to sand down the fairing compound and once again prep the decks. That required more time enjoying the fine dust of sanding, much of it now tinted pink from the color of the fairing compound.

Finally, the decks were ready for painting.

Recognizing that this was an area best left to a pro, we departed the boat after another weekend of work. Now it was time for Rob’s partner, Diane Salguero, to shine.

We knew we could trust her, but would we be happy with the results?

Arriving back at the shipyard a week later, we were blown away. What had been aging, weathered teak now looked like a brand new deck.

We’re thrilled with the final results, which cost a fraction of what we were quoted to redo the teak.

Diane and Rob had done an amazing job of carefully mapping out the waterways on deck so that they matched perfectly the pattern that existed on the top of the cabin house.

And the nonskid was flawless — perfect gray patches with rounded corners, the sand evenly spread in the paint to form what I have since experienced as some of the surest footing on a boat.

Deborah and I were ecstatic. After weeks of painful, grueling work, our boat was beginning to really shine.

Rob and Diane were able to match the existing deck pattern and color on the cabin house.

We felt especially good that we had taken a large and active role in the project, but had the wisdom to know when to step aside and let the experts take over.

What began as the possibility of a budget-busting project costing tens of thousands of dollars left us a few thousand dollars poorer, but with a boat more seaworthy than ever and a growing sense of pride in a vessel we hope will take us to far and exotic places.

It was money well spent.

6 Responses to The Passport Project: Part 17 (Dry, new decks)

  1. Charles Arnold December 8, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    Great article and very timely for me. I’m considering replacing my 1984 Passport 40’s teak decks with non-skid, but in your words I’ve gotten a “budget busting” estimate from my yard for the work. I’m going to rethink the whole project after reading your series. Thanks much for what you’ve shared so well.

  2. Steve Mason October 27, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    Hey guys finally had a chance to read from start to finish your adventure in purchase, trial, and makeover. Inspirational and enjoyable to say the least. Thanks for sharing so honestly. You captured the excitement, doubt, frustration and finally success that makes boating one of the most rewarding endeavors in life.

    Looking forward to following along. Keep up the good work on your boat and the website in general. Hope our paths cross again sometime soon….maybe out on the water.

    Steve Mason
    SV Galatea
    Olympia, WA

    • Deborah Bach November 1, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the kind comments. It’s been quite an adventure so far with the boat! We just moved back into our place in Ballard for the winter and spring and are looking forward to getting started on our winter projects. I think the boat should be nicely dialed in by next summer.

      I hope our paths cross again too. In the meantime, hope you’re enjoying Bali. It sounds like a wonderful experience.


  3. Barry Kaplan October 25, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Oh, I really should not have looked at those pictures. I am half way thru reseaming and replacing all the bungs on my deck. After a bit of sanding they look great. But there are quote a few boards that should be replaced.

    One of the main reasons why I did not rip up the teak (other than my wife liking teak) was I did not think I could make the smooth bits between the non skid look good. Of course I am not a pro.

    So, can we get some pricing on this project? Mainly the for the parts that require a pro. Which I’m guessing is the fairing and the creating of the smooth separators between the nonskid.

    You decks look great!!!


    • Deborah Bach November 1, 2012 at 8:50 am #

      Hi Barry,

      Sorry about the belated response. I bet your teak is looking great.

      If I remember correctly, Rob quoted us around $5K for the job. We were able to defray the costs somewhat by working alongside him. And you’re right – he did the fairing and with his partner, Diane, created the smooth separations between the nonskid. I think Diane did most, if not all, of the painting.

      If there are any more questions we can answer, drop me an email at

      We’d love to see pics of your Passport 42.


  4. Mike Schultz October 24, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Beautiful job! Can you forward Rob’s contact info?

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