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Diana Removing Caulk
~ Diana Removing Caulk ~
Deck Re-Caulking
The Cost of Teak Decks
Every time I announce I'm going to do something to the boat that sounds ambitious, Don bestows me with a special look. His forehead crinkles, his eyebrows rise up, his temples twitch and his mouth forms into something between a smirk and a pucker. This is not quite the encouragement I hope to receive, however it is probably justifiable. He will most likely be roped into helping, or at the very least become subject to my sporadic whining about the boat bites obtained during the course of the labor. And then there is concern over the unexpected costs that will surly arise.

When I see that special look, my first response is to minimize the ambitiousness of the task. He always counters my minimizations with a machine gun slew of "How are you going to …?" questions, to which I always answer "I'll figure it out." I typically view this type of interaction as a challenge, which only ever serves to intensify my determination.

It was no different when I declared I would be restoring our teak decks. Our Han's Christian is swathed with teak and the decks appeared to have not been touched in 20 years. Screw tips were exposed, the caulk was rock hard and the joints had devolved into either canyons or constricted cracks. It was the makings of a disaster whose time I felt was looming. I was in the midst of taking a sabbatical from work, and had somehow become delusional into believing I needed to earn my keep. Given the enormous expense of hiring a professional, I figured doing the repairs myself should cover my room and board for at least the next 4 months. Little did I know at the time that it would take me that long to complete the job!

Diana Enjoying the Deck
~ Diana Enjoying the Deck ~

Because I really don't know how I'm going to do a lot of these ambitious endeavors, I usually begin figuring it out with a lot of internet research. Just like a late night Home Shopping Network junkie, I am easily influenced by the recommendations I find on the Hans Christian Owners Association website. This is how I became convinced we needed a Fein Multimaster tool. I then had to persuade Don that, no matter the high price, this tool (but wait – there's more) equipped with its patented caulk cutting blade was indispensible. Thus armed with the necessary tools, it was time to find a means for getting the know-how on using them.

In preparation for this project, I'd previously bribed our local boat carpenter Dan, an ex-deck layer. Dan had done some of the more complex wood repairs on our gauge panel, and while climbing onto our boat one day, lost his cell phone overboard. I eagerly donated an extra phone we'd kept as a spare. At that time, the idea of repairing our decks was already brewing in my mind, and I jumped at the chance to put Dan in a position of obligation. When I beseeched him to teach me how to caulk a joint, I got an in-depth lesson on deck-restoration from start to finish, including hands on practice using some of his scrap material. It was a good trade.

Cleaning the Deck
~ Cleaning the Deck ~

Step one in the project was digging out the old caulk, and thus the Multimaster and I began a rather torrid love affair. Don was able to condone the shift in my affections by choosing to believe I was referring to him every time I mentioned ‘Fine Master'.

Step two was mowing down the acres of undulating teak to a level field and I embarked on my 2 month career as ‘The Boat Buffing Babe'. Grief for the weeks of life lost to this task was further compounded by the nerve endings damaged using the orbital sander.

Step three was carving out the grooves to a proper size and meant Fein-y was back on the scene. He was less aggressive, friendlier to my pulsating palms than the orbital sander. I loved this power tool all the more!

Step four was squirting out 36 tubes worth of gooey, black caulk; followed by 36 hours of removing gooey, black smears from the multitude of places I didn't intend covering.

I'm not sure why, but during this project I became the center of attention on the dock. Skippers of plastic sloops were always standing around, watching the dust fly and asking questions about the process. I couldn't understand the curious inquiries from men who had no natural materials onboard with which to use the information I was sharing.

Don said it was because what I was doing was interesting. I think it was because I spent most of my time in a bikini bent over power tools – the epitome of a Rigid Tool calendar model.

Laying on the Deck
~ Laying on the Deck ~

I have no inflated self-image mind you. I was aware that I was grubby with sweat, sawdust and black smears. However I did become a film star when a dock mate of ours requested that I record the entire process to post on his website

I was more than happy to end my career with the conclusion of this project. Having experienced the grueling, grubby work first hand, I've concluded the exorbitant fees charged by professionals are justifiable. Sadly, no modeling offers arrived, and I'm not expecting any royalties from the video. But we ended up with beautiful, smooth decks that, in my opinion, look like a million bucks. Total cost of restoring our teak decks:

~ Materials - $600

~ Cell Phone Bribery - $80

~ Fein Multimaster with amazing attachments - $280

Having your wife be your Boat Buffing Babe – PRICELESS!
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