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Old 30-11-2016, 17:11   #1
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Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

I've been researching cruising boats and my basic criteria is a 40 - 48ft. well found cruising boat, and given our budget, I've focused on boats from the late 80's to early 90's. The one feature that's been a dis-qualifier thus far has been teak decks. Most things I've read and most people I've talked to have suggested that I stay away from teak decks given they're likely needing replacement as early as 15 years old but certainly when getting to 25 - 30 years old and the replacement cost is very high, even as a DIY project. However, many high end boats with teak decks from Europe (e.g. H-R, Contest, Najad, etc.) as well as from Asia (Taswell, Tayana, etc.) are advertised that seem to be well found, well maintained, commanding a high price in the market, and would seem to be ideal except for those darn teak decks. Obviously somebody's buying these older H-R's and Najads, what are they doing?

So, do some boat builders do a better job with teak decks than others? European builders better than Asia? Or the opposite? Are there well built, well maintained teak decks that last 30 - 40 years? It seems that teak decks from that time period are screwed directly into the FG deck? Meaning that just removing the teak would require you to fill a couple of thousand holes in the FG deck along with new gelcoat, deck paint and awlgrip? Yikes.. How can you tell if a teak deck is in good condition?

Given that boats move, is there any boat yard in the world that would do a great job redoing your teak deck but cost less than bringing the boat back to Sweden (or Taiwan)?

Should I continue to avoid teak decks, or keep an open mind and consider teak decks just one more item in the overall condition of the boat? TIA

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Old 30-11-2016, 17:28   #2
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

Some boats have teak decks where the teak is glued on top of the fiberglass, sans fasteners. So these should be safer to buy than traditional teak decks, since there are relatively few pathways for water to get into the core of the deck's sandwich structure.

Fasteners can definitely be the nails in the coffin of teak overlayed onto fiberglass, since if they allow water into the deck's core, you have to remove; the teak, it's fasteners & goo, the layer of fiberglass under it, & then the deck's cores. Followed by installing new core, a new fiberglass top skin, & paint plus nonskid.

I'm thinking that to some degree it might be possible to ascertain the health of teak decks, & their cores via thermal imaging. But I don't know that for certain. You might ask one of the CF members who does such surveys to chime in on this.

One question that comes to mind about boats with such decks, is how long do you think you'll want to keep her? Since if it's a short fling instead of a marriage, then you might get away buying a boat with "minor" issues. And selling her within a year or three.

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Old 30-11-2016, 17:35   #3
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

I had a teak deck on a 30 year old boat.
Would and will avoid in the future.
HR however is such a good boat that I could change my mind..
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Old 30-11-2016, 17:38   #4
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

Hi Jim,

From your post I can tell you have read some about the issues related to Teak Decks. So I won't bore you with restating what you probably know. I have not owned a boat with Teak Decks, but I have thought long and hard about buying one. So, take my remarks below with a splash of saltwater.

But, to try to answer your questions about:

1. Are some better than others ?
Yes, I would expect that, as with anything on boats, there can be differences in quality of construction and materials. Apparently some boats were built with thicker teak strips, some with thinner.

2. What are people doing with these older higher end boats?
I think it is like asking what are people doing with older higher end cars like Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari. In other words, IF you have the desire for such a higher (new cost) boat, and you want to buy an older one, you have to expect to pay (more) to have it maintained. In short, if it (possible repair or maintenance costs) seems too expensive, it is probably not the right boat for you (or me).

I don't own a boat with a teak deck, but I like them. So, my statement above is not meant as an snobbish remark, just a practical one.

3. Some owners take the teak off. That could help resale value (as the dirty job is done already).

4. Some owners take their boats to Central America (Honduras comes to mind, also I seem to recall Venezuela has been mentioned in past, but not likely now). Some go to the Far East. As I recall places in Langkawi are known for doing relatively less expensive refits of sailboats taken there for such things as new teak decks etc.

5. There is a chance that used boat with the Teak Decks will last longer than your interest in that boat, or in some cases, longer than the interest some buyers have in sailing or owning a large sailboat.

I hope this helps.
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Old 30-11-2016, 17:45   #5
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

Each boat is different. Older teak can actually be thicker and give you an opportunity to resurface. Wouldnt not count on being able to do that with new boats. But older boats would have gelcoat below the teak, then glass and plywood.

Look for loose or missing bungs. For example I think HR from that time period uses both glue and fasteners so some owners remove screws from missing bungs aNd fill it.
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Old 30-11-2016, 17:47   #6
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

Avoid them if you can unless they have been replaced recently as it will be a much tougher sale when you decide to sell it. Replacing teak decks on a 40 + ft. Boat could run you close to $40,000 so when faced with it most folks remove the teak and go with glass decks. Some sailors don't like something like an HR without teak decks so they wait for a boat that has had the decks replaced. You don't get much extra for a boat with new decks plus the original teak was from old growth trees and this wood lasted far longer than new plantation teak replacements.
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Old 30-11-2016, 18:04   #7
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

Teak decks are a guaranteed source of headache.. plus a big drain on your wallet.

Doubtful you'll get much change from $50K for a teak refit on a 48 footer.

So, we bought an Amel ... But good luck anyway. A good mate has a Nauticat 515 and the thickness is fully 2 + cm! That will last him a while...
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Old 30-11-2016, 18:43   #8
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

If the teak deck has bungs then it's screwed to the subdeck and you will want to run away. There will be soft decks under teak after 20-30 years. Tayana uses screws. Lovely to look at as long as it's someone else's boat.
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Old 30-11-2016, 19:17   #9
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

You don't have to replace it with teak. There are teak substitutes out there that look amazing and last a long time.
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Old 30-11-2016, 19:31   #10
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?


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Old 30-11-2016, 20:30   #11
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?


I think you should continue to not consider teak decks if your plans include sailing where it is very hot. Teak absorbs a lot of heat from the sun, and can be too hot for bare feet when those feet can't bear to be in shoes. The heat also permeates the boat.

It is true that teak decks will wind up costing you maintenance, also. Some frugal Canadian friends of ours put up with leaking teak decks all the way from BC to Langkawi, where, at a huge cost to their bodies--the lady developed back trouble, they finished the job. It looked beautiful, but they were still teak decks.

If you'll never be where it is too hot, then, if you keep them wet down with salt water every day, sometimes twice a day, and that's a lot of bucketing down, they should last tolerably well, providing the right glues were used to bond them and there are no screws. If you decide to get them, do wash them down with salt water, and do not brush them, or scrub them across the grain at all; let them be silver and moist.

I, personally, would not want to have them.

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Old 30-11-2016, 22:51   #12
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

Just chiming in as a boat with teak decks owner...

Our teak decks have been on our vessel for 36 years now, and there are honestly no deck leaks or evidence from any in the past. Granted, our boat is a custom one-off and they used very good materials building her (we are the third owners). The teak is very thick, screwed into plywood on a wood boat, and in good condition.

Salt water is a friend to teak decks as is an occasional cleaning with saltwater and a bristle brush...going against the grain. They do get hot under foot in the sun and they do radiate heat into the boat.

Personally, I love them. But then I also like things wooden, and as mentioned, my boat is not fiberglass. That would make a big difference to me when I think of rotten cores, and would not prefer teak on a cored deck for many of the afore-mentioned reasons given by other posters. Best with your decision!
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Old 01-12-2016, 00:40   #13
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

A year or 2 ago I ran into an HR49 needing new teak decks (amongst other big ticket items) and wrote to HR. They have a service that will contract renewal of the teak deck. For the 49 the cost was approx. USD 45k.

This was an eighties boat, obviously decks held on with fasteners. When did manufacturers start with glueing without the use of fasteners?

I am still drawn to boats with teak decks, but find it perfectly acceptable if decks were replaced with a synthetic deck to look like teak. Some such decks look really amazing.

And what about survivor teak decks? I see quite a few boats with well presented original decks too. Perhaps the environment where the boat spent most of its' life makes a significant difference?


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Old 01-12-2016, 02:46   #14
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

I started a thread a while back, Is teak decks a deal breaker for you, I think, the boat that was at the top of my short list was the Baba 30, but every one, that I saw, had teak decks, I just could not bring myself to pull the trigger, my W32 does not have them, recenty saw a Baba 30 listed for, I think, 75k, a good B30 is going to run you more than a good W32, for me, I made the right call, could not be happier, teak decks sure look good, oh, that B30 for 75k did not have them
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Old 01-12-2016, 05:19   #15
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Re: Should I change my mind about teak decks on older boats?

Out 1984 Tayana 55 has teak decks and we were planning to have the teak removed in Cartagena when the boat was 28 years old. A local carpenter suggested that the old teak could be relayed.

We removed the worst area and found that the teak was still 6-7 mm thick. We took cores, using a 2 inch hole saw, from the deck and discovered that the screws had not breached the outer fiberglass and the balsa core was like new.

Two carpenters spent 5 weeks removing the teak, taking it to the shop to clean up and regroove, relaying the teak with sikaflex and new screw and plugs. Now 6 years and 30,000+ nm later we need to relay a small area.

Total cost of labor, sikaflex and screws was A little over $4,000. It would probably cost closer to $40,000 in the US.

We love the teak but I would not buy a boat with a teak deck unless a very reputable surveyor proved it was sound.

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deck, teak, teak deck

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