Teak, before we started

Nightingale Tune is adorned with charming teak accents that we count among the many reasons we fell in love with her. Sadly, time, pollution, and UV rays wore away her varnish long ago, and the wood has started cracking in some places. Brian and I knew that the brightwork (sailor speak for conditioning and varnishing wood) required to bring the teak back from the silver-grey in the photo above would involve many long days of work, but couldn’t resist the chance to protect the wood from further damage and give her a pretty facelift in the process.


Most of the screws and bungs had worked their way out of the toe rails over the years. Before we could do anything, we had to remove the old screws and make new holes for new screws and teak bungs to cover them.


Brian fighting with an old screw. There were over fifty, and each was a struggle!

The first day and a half was consumed with us removing the old screws, drilling new holes, bedding new screws with 3M 4200, and hammering new teak bungs over them. We got a preview of the backaches in store during the rest of the project – you’re bent over 95 percent of the time.


Once we’d prepared the wood, we started the second major step of the process, which involved cleaning the teak with a very toxic two-part cleaner. Until we began cleaning, I had doubts that there was any life left in our very grey teak. As we moved around the boat, working in very small sections, it was quite satisfying to rinse and reveal glimpses of the red teak that had been obscured by dirt and mildew.


Teak, after the two-part cleaning


The next day we started sanding – first with 60 grit, then with 80, and finally 220. It took us a whole day working dawn to dusk. It was pretty amazing to feel the satiny texture of the teak at the end of the process.


Teak, after sanding

We were finally almost ready to begin varnishing. We did our best to vacuum all of the dust from sanding out of the boat (keeping her dry was essential) and wiped everything with a tack cloth. Then, we applied tape to the edges because we’re not good at staying inside the lines. After all that – we began applying Honey Teak – an amazing urethane product that’s supposed to last two years in the hot Caribbean sun. Honey Teak is sold by a very helpful man in Florida named Tom, who encourages you to call, 7 days a week, with any questions that emerge as you work on your project. We had plenty, and Tom is now our new best friend.


Brian applying one of the 6 coats of honey teak and clear coat from our dinghy

We were pretty loopy by the end of the project, which took us six and a half days from beginning to end. We’ve been done for just a day and are already starting to forget the backbreaking work as we stare at our reflections in the glassy, beautiful toe rails!

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Teak after 3 coats of Honey Teak and three coats of the clear cover

All through the project, the marina swan, who showed absolutely no interest in our boat this entire summer, appeared on the scene. He coordinates perfectly with our Portland Pudgy, don’t you think?