All Decked Out: Re-decking your fishboat in a weekend
You want your new deck to look like this one? Yeah, we thought so.
Ever consider re-building a fishboat? Then you might have to deal with replacing a rotted deck. Here’s the drill:
I. Cut out the old deck. Plan on this taking about four hours, with two workers. You’ll need a saber saw, crowbar, hammer, pick, and drill with Phillips head screwdriver bit. When you’re done you’ll have to get rid of a pile of moldy, delaminated plywood and fiberglass. Most of your work will be with the saw, cutting around the perimeter of the deck. When I did this on an 18’ center console, I set the saw blade by first drilling a hole in the deck and using a probe to measure its thickness. Whatever you do, don’t skip this stage; fail to set the saw blade correctly, and you could cut through bulkheads or even the hull, in some spots. Ripping up the old, rotted wood is easy once it’s cut free, but picking resin out of the screw heads that secure the deck (so the driver bit can get a bite and remove the old fasteners,) is tedious.
II. Cut and replace rotted ply with marine ply. This may take a while, especially if you’re DIY challenged. It took me and a friend eight hours, with two workers. The tools we needed included a measuring tape, circular saw, fasteners, fiberglass resin, and fiberglass putty.
If you’re good at wood work you could cut this time significantly, but I’m not so I had to measure, cut, measure again, and cut again. And again, and again, and again. Before screwing down the wood paint the underside with resin, to help protect against moisture. Then screw the decking in place and fill the seams with fiberglass putty. If you walk on the deck at this point, the putty will crack and have to be repaired before moving forward. Yep, I learned this part the hard way…
III. Glass in the deck, with two layers of fiberglass. This takes two guys about six hours, and requires rolls of fiberglass cloth, fiberglass resin, paint brushes and rollers, mixing tubs, and six million pairs of latex gloves. Really - you just can’t have enough.
Laying on the glass was fairly easy, going by the book. And the book I used to guide me was Fiberglass Repair, by David and Zora Aiken. It details several tricks that improve the glass-to-wood bonding, help you get the right resin-to-hardener mixes, and spread the resin effectively.
IV. Final surface application. This is a fairly easy stage, and took me just three hours. But I cheated – I used a kit, the Rhino Hide Safe Tracks II Kit, which has everything you need to do the job - primer, coating, rollers, mixers, gloves, and even a drop cloth – plus instructions. Kits are available in sizes that cover 50- ($145), 100- ($285), and 250-square feet ($550), in a wide range of colors. Surface preparation took a half hour, as did painting on the primer. Rolling out the Rhino Hide took another half-hour per coat (three coats total) and was no different than rolling on paint. When the surface dried I was absolutely thrilled with it; the look and feel of the liner was even better than the original gray-and-black spackle finish, the surface is as grippy as any you’ll find, and dropping a six-ounce lead fishing weight didn’t chip or damage it – I love this stuff.
V. Enjoy your boat’s new deck, for years to come.
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