Working on maintenance and projects at our house this summer kept us away from our boat in July and August, when we usually set aside time for exterior boat maintenance—varnishing the teak and waxing the cabin and hull. However, in order to protect the boat over the winter months, we still need to take care of the varnishing and waxing, even though it’s September and the weather will make this work more challenging. So, we packed up the car and headed to Anacortes in the middle of September, hoping for some decent weather.
We got lucky with the weather for the first week, as Western Washington experienced a late surge of warm (even hot) summer weather. Varnishing was the higher priority, as the weather is more critical for varnishing. Waxing can be done in between rain showers and when the temperatures are a little cooler. Before we could start varnishing, we had to get the boat cleaned up. So we washed the boat (actually that was the highest priority) the first day after we arrived.
Next we tackled varnishing the eyebrow, a teak trim piece that wraps around the top of the cabin. We were able to sand, prep, and varnish it all in one day—thanks to some dry thermal weather that kept the afternoon temps in the high 80s. Fortunately we got the varnish on early enough in the day and the heat didn’t affect the finish. Yea!
Next up was the cap rail. It took us most of a day to do the sanding, and we decided to wash it down good that afternoon so that it would be ready the next day. At this point, the warm weather was starting to break down, and we woke up to thick fog the next morning. The temperature was fairly mild (high 50s) and it was calm. We decided to go ahead with prepping the rail by masking off the top and bottom sides as well as the bases of all the stanchions. With the prep done, we’d be ready to paint as soon as the temperature warmed up and the fog began to lift.
So we waited and watched the weather. However, the fog was stubborn, and slow to burn off. We studied the temperature and dew point. The theory is that it’s safe to varnish when enough moisture is out of the air, and that this happens when the temperature is 6 degrees or more higher than the dew point. So as soon as we had a temperature like that, we applied the varnish. The fog never did lift that day, and the varnish dried slowly. However, by today (the next day), the varnish looks great and we can breathe a sigh of relief.
We usually apply three coats of varnish each summer, and if the weather improves later this month, we’ll try for another coat or two. However, we feel good that we got one good coat of varnish on the exterior teak and that it will be protected through the winter.
Next up: waxing.