Follow up on Fir Decks

In a much earlier post, I wrote about refinishing the fir decks on our friendship sloop with satin varnish. After a summer that included two boat shows, rafting up with other boats, cruises with dogs, children, multiple adults, and a range of weather let me report on how the decks have held up.
            As a prelude let me say a few more things about cruising with the ship’s wolf. The most important point relating to this post is that our ship’s wolf needs shore leave several times a day. What that means is that wherever we go ashore (often accompanied by children) the elements that make up the shore, mud, sand, or ground seashell, get tracked back aboard no matter how careful we are, and that’s just part of the game.
            Since the very nature of the type of cruising we do dictates a certain amount of wear on the deck finish, I am actually surprised and rather pleased by how well our decks have held up his season. The finish looks very good, and perhaps more to the point, areas of wear are easy to repair with a little light sanding and more varnish.
            I have to say that this fits in very well with our overall maintenance scheme. I don’t mind regular maintenance, if it is easy to do. What I am trying to avoid is the kind of thing that involves toxic solvents and respirators just to do repairs and yearly touch ups.
            By way of contrast, the toe rails of the boat and the spars came to us with a two part synthetic varnish called Bristol Finish. The advantage to this finish is that there is no sanding between coats and it dries into a very hard finish, quite appropriate for toe-rails and spars. However, my experience has been that when Bristol Finish goes bad it goes bad in a big way, totally exposing the wood and allowing moisture to creep underneath the finish and lift in surrounding areas. On the whole, it is a very good product, but is difficult to repair and you need to use a respirator, gloves, and you need to be careful what kind of container you mix it in. With the varnish, I just lightly hand sand and apply another coat: done. So as far as our fir decks are concerned, I am sticking with the varnish, it looks great, has weathered well, and is easy to maintain.

Fir Decks


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