To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Plastics *vs*. Brightwork

Above: teak from the starboard ("hazmat") deck locker next to the port ("propane") locker. The blue tape hides 28 screw holes. Which is better? The no-teak look? The teak frame?

Back in March (Befores and Afters) we pulled a plug of soft adhesive out of a significant hole in the cabin top. (It's a bad policy to use soft adhesives to patch hard fiberglass.) In this case, "significant hole" means "about the size of a wine cork." We know because CA whittled a wine cork to stuff into the hole to keep rain out.

"Significant hole" also means that the wood inside was wet. Not "damp" or "moist" but really wet. Reluctantly, I started drilling holes in my boat. Water flowed out of the holes and down the drill bit. Eww. It was quite disturbing to realize that water had been leaking around the adhesive "patch" into the structure of the cabin top. Thank goodness that part of the boat's structure is not cored.

Here's the after picture . I shot West System Six10 Epoxy into each individual hole.

It was easy to fill the wine-cork-sized hole with a big, solid plug of epoxy resin. The fancy Six10 applicator is something you drop into a caulk gun and squirt into the hole. Super easy but visible.

An alternative (possibly better) approach is this. Grind down the fiberglass to make a large, sloping depression about 3" in diameter for the 1/4" deep repair. Cut 3 circular patches of fabric in 1", 2" and 3" diameters. Wet out the fabric and layer it into the hole to recreate the boat's skin properly. Sand smooth. Apply a layer of gelcoat over the top of all. Then paint. Really difficult, but invisible.

We elected not to do this. We went for structure rather than cosmetics. Someday, we'll have to paint the topsides. That's when we'll hire a plastics craftsman to grind down the patch and properly gelcoat it.

Brightwork vs. Plastic Death Match

We have a mountain of teak brightwork. Toe Rail. Six hand rails. An "eyebrow" around each cabin top. And (until recently) complex teak frames around the aft deck lockers.

The starboard deck locker leaked. Hurricane Irene totally soaked the starboard corner of the aft cabin. Somehow water was able to run down the boat-side of the locker wall instead of staying on the locker side where it belonged.

First, we have to be sure we've found the source of the water. Then we have to decide if we like the "teak look" or the "clean, plastic look".

Diagnosis of a leak is hard. We think there were three parts to this one. Part one was the fiber part of the fiberglass job inside the locker. It wasn't rolled down to a beautiful level of smoothness on the starboard side. The port side seems to be higher quality. There are a few places where the fabric had either pulled away or was never bonded properly to begin with.

Part two was improper or incomplete bedding of the teak frame. It allowed water to intrude under the frame.

Part three was our ignorance. We thought the locker was "somehow" supposed to be dry. We now see that it was never designed to be dry. We tried adding silicone and other foolishness to get it to be dry. Dumb us. Green water over the deck (or a hurricane) would easily overwhelm the teak trim. "Dry" and "Deck Locker" can't really go together. Trying to keep it dry may have exacerbated the leak.

Diagnosis is made more difficult by the rarity of the leak. When floating on her lines, the leak was small: we think that ordinary cohesion and adhesion allowed water migrate along the underside of the locker's lip and through a gap in the fiberglass job. When sitting at a different angle on the hard (and subject to a hurricane) this turned into a significant flow of water pouring down the aft cabin wall.

Now that I've torn the teak off the deck, we can see how the lip under the lid has a drain hole that allows rain water to run down into the locker. The lockers drain overboard from their bottoms. That's the way they're built.

And yes, the teak is gone. We like the clean, flush-fitting, plastic look. The wooden frames were toe-stubbers that required maintenance. Two costs; no benefits.

Our repair starts with filling the 28 screw holes (on each side) using a little syringe and plenty of epoxy. The first pass revealed some holes that go all the way through and require some care in filling. A second pass is required. Once we've got all the deck holes filled, we can mix up yet more epoxy and attempt to fill the voids inside the locker. Then we'll reattach the hinges by drilling new screws into the new epoxy filler. The final step is to figure out how to latch it shut. Hasp or one of these cool Perko flush locks.