Oh, My Aching Back!

Freshly 'seafinned' grab rails. Pretty! And smooth!

And hands,and neck! Know what I hate? I hate refinishing wood. Okay, I don’t REALLY hate it, but I’ve had just about enough of it for now, especially if I have to lean over and do it with my head in an upside down position. Let me get through this current bottle of ibuprofen before I tackle another such project. The brightwork on Moonrise, our Cal 34, was looking not-so-bright, if you get my drift. So for the last few days we’ve been working on that.

Know what else I hate? I hate Cetol. Yes, that is right. I am coming out of the closet and going on record to say that I really don’t like this stuff. I know it’s alleged to be the drug of choice for boat woodwork, but the problem I have with Cetol is that people generally just add layer upon layer, year after year, without sanding the old stuff off. Then it looks like crap and begins to peel. I mean why not just paint your beautiful teak with ugly brown paint? It will end up looking the same.  And that was the state of the teak back rests and handles on Moonrise’s exterior. They looked ugly, and she is such a pretty boat she deserves better. So we commenced to sanding. And sanding, and sanding.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve refinished a lot of wood in my life. So much so that I can get pretty detailed about how much sanding is required before one is ready to put on a new finish. It’s not enough, in my book, to sand through the top layer of stuff and then call it good. I want it all off. So the sanding takes a long time and the fingers get really stiff, the skin on the hands begins to resemble the sandpaper being used. After a while it’s hard to tell where the skin leaves off and the paper begins. Eventually we got most of it off, and while it’s not the perfection I had in my own mind, having envisioned wood that looked like new,  it’s ‘good enough’ even for me. Time to put on the new finish.

Frankly, I did not want to again put Cetol on the wood work on Moonrise because I hate the idea of having to do all that sanding again and I hate the way it looks when you don’t sand the old stuff off. Great minds think as one, even without talking about it sometimes, and Mike came home with a pint of Daly’s SeaFin Teak Oil. This product is very popular up here with the wooden boat crowd and I can see why! It’s just very easy to use and leaves a beautiful finish. To maintain it, you just wipe more on with a rag, or, if feeling extra frisky, with a sanding pad. It soaks into the wood and hardens, leaving a nice glowing finish that is skid proof and water proof and allegedly needs renewing only once a year.

Our treatment of choice for our teak rails and seat backs.


So Moonrise is looking mighty spiffy just now with her freshly ‘Seafinned’ wood. Only problem is that although we taped off the hand rails, some of the product still leaked underneath the tape and we cannot figure out how to remove it from the cabin top. Of course, Moonrise is a boat from the 1970’s, so her non-skid has blemishes and spots like most middle aged skin. Eventually these will probably fade with the rest of the battle scars. But we’d like to scrub them off if possible. Researching the interweb Mike found that acetone was supposed to be the treatment of choice. I’m out 13$ on that idea because it didn’t work one bit. I’m going to try mineral spirits next, as that’s what the stuff has in it and that’s what is recommended by the manufacturer for uncured spills. Ours are definitely cured, but it can’t hurt to try. If you have experience removing this kind of spot from your deck. please post a reply here. Otherwise I might have to accidentally spill Seafin Teak Oil all over the nonskid on Moonrise, giving her a nice mild ‘tan’, but making the spots effectively disappear. Think of it as self-tanning lotion for boats.

Our nephew, Reid, fishing for Salmon off cockpit of Moonrise. Later I had him fish off the other side so I could finish the teak backrest. The fish were not biting that day.


13 thoughts on “Oh, My Aching Back!

  1. Oooh that looks promising! Mark has it in his mind that we need to use Bristol Finish, based upon a friend of ours success on his boat. His custom built boat that he hires a professional detailing crew to maintain I might add. Since our detail crew is well, me I am very much looking forward to hearing how your much easier to apply Seafin holds up.

    • I hear tell of people who love to varnish boat wood. I’m pretty sure they don’t have a home to care for. We will probably always be the detailing crew for whatever boat we have. So, at least while we also are the home detailing crew, we don’t want to spend our days varnishing. I’ll let you know how it holds us as long as have Moonrise.

  2. It looks really good! Great job. The entire inside of the boat is teak oiled and not varnished. After a while I think the teak oil leaves the teak darker than when it first started, but it doesn’t peel! There are teak brightner solutions though.

    As far as the outside of our boat goes. We have teak in the cockpit, on the cap rails, hatches and companion way. It’s all varnish and peeling…looking like skin cancer. I’m not sure what we’ll do with this. Re-Varnish the outside wood or just teak oil it. I’ll be interested to see how your’s holds up in the great outdoors.

    • The Cetol does begin to look like skin cancer. An ugly, but effective analogy. I think the teak oil will keep the boat looking well kept without too much effort. No doubt, a beautiful and well maintained varnish will win in any beauty contest, but we enjoy sailing too much to be stuck in a slip with a piece of sandpaper on a popscicle stick.

  3. Teak oil generally does darken the wood over time because it has linseed oil in it. Apparently that darkens more than tung oil, which is what Seafin is made from. I learned that from doing all the research about this product. One thing I like is that years from now, or whenever, if we decided we might want to varnish the wood, we could varnish right over the Seafin product. Can’t get much better than that. We’ll see how the ‘once a year’ thing goes, though. Unless we sell the boat, in which case we won’t know.
    This is a local product, but I know people have been able to get it in other parts of the states.
    I used some natural orange paint/stain remover on the spills on the non-skid and it helped quite a lot. I put it on thick, let it sit for 1/2 hour, then scrubbed with a toothbrush and rinsed it off. Then clean the area with mineral spirits. In a couple of months the spots probably won’t show.

  4. Melissa,

    All our teak was coated in Cetol and we found the best way to remove it was to use a heat gun. Nothing fancy, the $20 one from Ace worked (and continues to work) fine.

    I am mixed about using teak oil as I am finding it creates a good surface environment for mold in high moisture areas such as inside the cabin. Having already varnished all the exterior teak with Captain’s Flagship I am finding the finish is holding up well and areas that need to be repaired or touched up blend in well with the older varnish.

    I absolutely agree that prep work is the key. Many times I am finding the scraping/ sanding is a much longer process than the actual varnishing.

    Hope you guys are doing great and getting closer to cutting the dock lines.

    • Yes, I think you are right about teak oil. Originally I used that on our seat backs and was not that impressed by it. We used the Watco brand. The Seafin product uses tung oil rather than the linseed oil usually found in teak oil products. It also cures to a hard finish and can be built up to actually coat the wood so I’m hoping that it will work better than traditional teak oil.
      Loved your recent facebook post about Desolation Sound! I love the idea of taking some time to cruise in this general area, enjoying the richness of the northern Salish Sea. Maybe we will decide to do that on Moonrise and we can get out there sooner that way.

  5. Nice, Melissa! Please let us know how it works out. I just finished stripping the old varnish off our teak with a heatgun, and I really have no interest in doing that again! But for some reason I’m really curious about this whole varnishing thing, something I will probably regret. 🙂

    • Since this is a post from July (and we don’t know why it was re posted as though new) I can say that so far, we are really, really pleased with how the Seafin has held up.

  6. For the record, Mike and I have no idea why this post was sent to in boxes again. We did not re post this. Mike’s putting on his programmer hat to try to figure out what happened, but we suspect it might be something with the GoDaddy server.

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