Saturday, January 29, 2005

Time to varnish? Or time to run for cover?

29 January 2005

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Nayarit, Mexico -- There is nothing like teak on a boat to both make the boat look absolutely beautiful -- and drive boat owners mad with the never-ending maintenance.

When we had the boat in Mazatlan last spring we sanded all the varnish off the topsides teak, with the idea of going 'au naturel' with the wood. It's very stylish for cruising boats to do that. And in fact, in Mexico, you can tell the new cruisers. Their teak looks way too shiney and kept up. By their third season, they give it up and strip the wood, sometimes going bare, sometimes putting on a touch of oil to keep the wood from cracking, or in extreme cases they paint the teak over with some kind of marine enamel. That solves the problem and you can always take the paint off and revarnish.

We never got to the paint stage -- though it was an option -- but now that Sabbatical is on the market ( the varnish is going back on, thanks to Captain Don Tiffin who insisted on tackling that particular job. It begins with cleaning the teak with some products that clearly are not good for human beings. Then a layer of stain is applied, followed by a final glossy-looking coat that most people associate with well-maintained vessels. Most new boats from the factory have very little teak above decks, opting instead for stainless steel in most spots.

In the photo with today's blog, you can see the chemically-cleaned dorade boxes on the stern, along with the handrails. Later in the day Don applied stain to some of the boat, with the hope of putting on the sealer today. Besides dressing up Sabbatical for some state-side buyer to ooh and ahh over, the sealing of the teak will mean that Monday when the painters start work on painting the cabin top, there will be less likelihood of damage to the wood.

We hired David Barba, a local painting contractor, to paint the cabin top and green non-skid, a project we considered doing before we left the U.S. in 2001 for Ensenada, but it was waaaaay too expensive, at least at Baja Naval, the boatyard where we were berthed for several months. The price here in Puerto Vallarta is about one-third of what we were quoted previously and David's reputation as a painter and businessman suggests he will be canonized some day.

The surf was up yesterday afternoon and after a morning of wood work, I talked Captain Don into taking some time off to go to the beach where the waves -- and the good rides -- have returned.

It was good salt-water therapy for my cold. Far better than Sudafed, I think. Probably another therapy session is called for this afternoon.


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