Teak restoration: handrails and eyebrows

Now that most of Freya‘s functional issues have been addressed, I am moving to purely cosmetic repairs. Above all else, the teak trim needs attention: the wood is weathered and gray pretty much everywhere. My goal is to restore everything to a look approaching the “Bristol” aspect of varnish without creating the corresponding maintenance hassle. This led me to Cetol, a product praised for its nice appearance, ease of application, and reduced maintenance needs on pretty much all boatowners’ forums (including the Cape Dory board).

Before applying Cetol however, the wood needs to be prepared (cleaned and/or sanded). While this could be done in place, without removal of the wood from the boat, completely removing the wood also allows repair of old screw holes and application of new sealant where needed. In Freya‘s case, I suspected that the cabintop teak was a possible source of small leaks into the cabin – the “eyebrows” in particular were wobbly and some screws were clearly loose and unsealed. I therefore decided to start with the handrails and eyebrows, completely removing them before applying Cetol and reattaching them properly.

This turned out to be a very time-consuming project, which is documented in the pictures below. The project spread over several weeks to allow multiple products to cure/dry properly: epoxy for the old screw holes and the five coats of Cetol (3 “natural teak” and 2 “gloss”) that have to be applied at least 24h apart. Reattaching the eyebrows and sealing with Sikaflex 291 LOT was one of the messiest jobs I had to do on a boat and I must have used at least 2 quarts of Acetone to make sure everything was squeaky clean (and this on top of carefully masking everything I could). Still, the results are worthwhile and the restored teak clearly improves the appearance of the boat. I will be moving to the other teak pieces soon – it should go faster since they do not need to be removed.