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.
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.
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.
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.
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.