Swan 56 complete teak deck replacement

Need new teak decking, a repair or full restoration? Look no further than the Hamble Yacht Services Refit and Repair (HYS RR) team based in Hamble. With decades of experience working on teak decks, the team have the specialist skills required to produce long lasting beautiful decks that will withstand the test of time whether you are racing every weekend, ocean sailing or day cruising.

When the very successful and well renowned Swan 56 racing yacht ‘Noonmark VI’ came to HYS RR wanting a complete teak deck replacement, their experienced team of skilled deck craftsmen took on the project with pride.

With a teak deck dating back to 1998, ‘Noonmark VI’s’ deck had fared extremely well but with her busy schedule of yacht races all over the world, the deck was becoming worn and was in need of a modern replacement.

Unsurprisingly, the client wished to continue the use of a traditional teak deck on this classically styled Swan using the very best quartersawn A class Burmese teak decking, also known as superyacht teak in marine industry circles. Many different teak woods are available to suit different applications and budgets such as Iroko, vinyl, teak faced plywood and plastic imitations but only the best would do for this beautiful racing yacht.

Benefits of Teak

Not only does traditional teak fit with the classical aesthetics of the Swan boat design but it also provides lots of other benefits including:

  • Long lasting durability
  • Incredible resistance to all kinds
    of weather
  • No rotting or decay
  • Ability to fair panels for a perfect fit
  • Good non-skid properties
  • Stays cooler in warm climates
  • Provides extra insulation
  • Controlled Environment
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Once in the HYS RR shed in Hamble, all of the old teak was carefully removed from ‘Noonmark VI’ and the deck filled and faired as necessary, ready for the new decking. Staging built around the boat meant the team had easy access to the decks directly from the workshop and a temperature controlled environment helped to speed up the process and avoid any weather delays.

Modern Teak Laying

Under the careful guidance of the HYS RR team, the client chose a modern teak deck layout with fewer joins and gluing than before. The transom decking was replaced with a one piece coverboard rather than lots of smaller teak laminates and the toe rails were shortened, stopping at the mast, with a coverboard running aft instead.

The HYS RR team use custom fitted teak panels as much as possible. Making templates of the deck areas out of 6mm MDF, the teak is then laid out and caulked together in the workshop before the panel is glued onto the deck in one piece. This process is much quicker than conventional methods and produces a much neater finish due to increased control and better working conditions – it is much easier to lay the planks and margins on a workshop table than on the yacht itself.

The side deck panels, however, are laid directly onto the deck using pre-rebated strips of teak which are pulled into the sheer of the yacht using special clamps. It is also possible to lay teak without the rebate and with full depth seams, but the finish is often not as slick.

Precision Fit

The biggest challenge for the team when laying a new teak deck is making sure that the teak decking looks symmetrical. The very nature of boats means that their decks are never 100% symmetrical, especially when there are hatches and deck fittings to work around. Consequently, the team take care to ensure the panels are laid with utmost precision to make sure the overall finish looks even and balanced to the naked eye. This sometimes means shaving just 1mm off each piece of wood to reduce a margin across the whole width of the panel to make sure it matches on both sides of the yacht.

Care is also taken to ensure that the placement of the snape joins which are cut into margins are uniform and follow the natural flow lines of the deck, butt joins are hidden under deck fittings where possible and long planks are used to reduce the number of joins on show. ‘Noonmark VI’ chose to have seam joins for extra durability in the long term but tight and finger joints are also possible.

The Finishing Touch

Once all of the teak panels are complete, they are fixed in place using sikaflex 298 bedding compound and vacuum bagged down to ensure a secure bond. The use of sikaflex instead of epoxy allows the decking to breathe and flex with the boat and also helps avoid any spill damage to other parts of the yacht. The deck is then left for two weeks to allow it to cure before the team sand it back to 80 grade grit with orbital sanders and the deck fittings are refitted.

How to Maintain Teak Decking

Once you have a new teak deck laid, the thing that boat owners worry about the most is keeping it looking as good as new for longer. ‘Noonmark VI’ had one of the cleanest teak decks that the HYS RR team had ever seen so we were keen to know the secret! The boat captain revealed that he used salt water to gently clean the teak with a soft sponge across the grain. The salt crystals help to trap moisture from the air and prevent teak from drying out and also help to reduce mould and mildew. The general rule is to never heavily scrub or jet wash your teak decking and regular cleaning from the very beginning will prevent dirt from becoming embedded in the first place.

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Meet the HYS RR Teak Craftsman

Adam Symes is the HYS RR Boat Building Team Leader. Adam has boatbuilding in his blood with his father a cabinet maker, his uncle a boatbuilder, his grandfather a steelworker on ships and his brother working alongside him at HYS RR too. Living by the sea, Adam tells us that working on boats was the most natural thing for him to do and he is proud to continue his family trade. Mentored by Pete Burnard, a well regarded shipwright, Adam has learnt his skills from the best and has been laying teak decks for over 18 years. Adam is also backed up by a large team of skilled boat builders who take pride in their craft and work hard to produce first class results.