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Caulk Talk

Caulk Talk
Caulk Talk
What you should know before you lay down a bead on your boat.

By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — April 2001


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As a kid I could never color within the lines. In fact I had no artistic skill whatsoever, a sad state of affairs. How my coiled-clay bowl defied gravity escapes me to this day.

My lack of precision also caused me to be awestruck as I watched my pop lay down a perfect bead when recaulking the deck on our 31-footer. He would occasionally urge me to try my luck, but I always wound up with sticky black hands as I attempted to clean up the globs and blobs of gooey caulk and sealant. It looked as if I'd tarred a roof, and this stuff didn't come off all that easily. Why did this caulk have to be black, I'd wonder. Why couldn't it be clear? At least then my feeble attempt at a clean bead wouldn't have looked like I'd put it down during an earthquake.

I'm still not terribly neat, especially with a caulking gun, but at least I've striven to learn why all caulks aren't clear and how to lay a clean bead. The search has taken me to the World Wide Web and to a caulking guru. One of the first things I learned was how to know when it's time to caulk. If a caulked area on your boat begins to loosen or leak, it's obviously time to reseal it. But remember also that sealants normally degrade as they are exposed to salt, moisture, sun, and continuous flexing, so plan on a regular program of recaulking your boat, and not just the obvious areas. "There's critical deck-to-hull joints--every screw behind the rubrails," says Steve Tilders, product and marketing services manager for Rule ITT Industries. "Then there are areas such as bedding hardware and windows--virtually any screw through the deck has sealant."

Next page > Caulk Talk continued > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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