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
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!
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.
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.
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. 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 www.idofloat.com.
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