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Hands-On Test Of Totally-Green Teak Deck Sealers

Miracle Product?

We do a hands-on test of the latest in high-tech, totally-green, teak deck sealers.

1.Apply YachtShine Deck Cleaner with a 3M Doodlebug just like applying soap.

2.After a little brush work, I sealed lots of space in a hurry with a roller and tray.

3.The patina’s gray, but it’s crisp and the sealer’s sub-surface barrier is invisible.

Over the years, I’ve squirted, rubbed, mopped, and sprayed my fair share of potions, pastes, and potations onto fiberglass and other boaty surfaces. And, given the amount of time, money, and effort I’ve lavished upon this strange enterprise, you’d think I’d have a handle on the perfect regimen for keeping everything gorgeous, from varnished rails to glossy gel-coated superstructures.

Such is not the case, though. To this day, I remain puzzled about lots of stuff although, within the past couple of weeks, I’ve achieved certain level of conviction on one score—the care and feeding of teak decks, of which my trawler Betty Jane has an abundance.

Teak decks, as you know, continue to be popular today, not only on older vessels like mine, but on brand-new battlewagons, trawlers, and classically-accented cruisers. And the number of goo’s, goops, and liquids that are marketed to keep all this pampered cellulose lookin’ good is truly amazing, although virtually all of them are fraught with drawbacks.

So when Jeff Scott of Teakdecking Systems, today’s premier supplier of teak decks and replacement decks for both new and older yachts, recently told me about a “totally revolutionary” teak sealer, I was all ears. “Bill,” he concluded, “YachtShine sealer is totally different than any other product on the market today and we’ve received positive feedback from customers who have tried it!”

As luck would have it, I’d been thinking about using a sealer of some description for a while, having concluded that an oil-based treatment might stain Betty’s fiberglass, darken her decks over the long haul, and perhaps require multiple applications. Teak sealer, it seemed, was comparatively less messy and easier to apply and spliced more time between applications. When I called YachtShine Product’s president John Coleman, he was happy to agree. “And what’s more,” he enthused, “our sealer is water-based, biodegradable, and totally green. It penetrates the grain, bonds electrostatically, and forms an invisible, sub-surface barrier to spills and air pollutants.”

I washed Betty and her decks down with the first product in Coleman’s three-part teak-maintenance system, YachtShine Marine Soap ($29.99 per gallon from West Marine). Non-toxic (you can drink the stuff theoretically), biodegradable, and gentle, it’s supposed to remove dirt fast, without excessive, wood-damaging scrubbing. Did it clean well? Yes. Did it reduce washdown time? Not noticeably.

YachtShine’s Teak Cleaner ($79.99 per gallon from West Marine) came next. It a syrupy liquid, which made it easy to swish on with a 3M Doodlebug and a roller tray. Coleman had assured me it would not mess with the Thiokol sealant between Betty’s deck planks and it didn’t. I merely kept everything wet during the application—so the cleaner would not dry and/or stick—and then rinsed it all off with water.

The final step was the charm. After a couple of hours of drying time in the hot sun, I used a throw-away brush to circumscribe Betty’s deck with a 3" swathe of YachtShine Sealer ($59.99 per gallon from West Marine) and then, with a fiberglass-protecting buffer established, sealed the rest in an hour, using a microfiber roller on a telescoping handle and the roller tray again.

The total job took six hours, drying time included. And the result—a crisp, ash-gray surface with nary a soot streak, stain, or surface trace of slippery sealer—was a big-time improvement over the aged, blotchiness I’d grown used to.

My opinion? I’m a fan, and expect to roll on more sealer in three months, after a YachtShine Marine Soap washdown, of course!

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This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.