Cockpit finish and sealing

The (original formula) Cetol had built up over the years to the point where the teak pretty much looked like brown painted wood, hiding the grain (and blemishes).

Last weekend was a major milestone in the battle against the old Cetol finish. I finally got the last of it off the cap rails and cockpit coamings. The weather turned wet in February and I didn’t get a chance to put any Semco on any of the newly stripped teak and some of the older parts that had been exposed since Mexico did start turning black.

I washed the teak down with a diluted (one-part) teak cleaner which was just enough to brighten the teak and wash away the mildew. Some of the deeper stains faintly remained and some grey remained in the deeper portions of the grain, but all in all it looked pretty good and I didn’t want to get too aggressive with harsh cleaners on the teak.

Sonrisa showing her naked teak beauty.

It was a lot of tiresome and delicate heat-gunning and scraping to get to this stage and I was really getting excited to see what the teak was goind to start to look like with the Semco applied. My hope is that it’s going to turn the old gray girl into a natural blonde once again (Sonrisa; that is).

I lightly sanded the cockpit surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper and a finishing sander.  The coamings were fairly smooth and the grain was still pretty tight, so the finishing sanding did make the surfade very smooth. The vertical staves on the cockpit walls were fairly weathered, so I only lightly sanded to knock the grain down a little but I didn’t worry too much about an absolutely smooth finish. That’s the nice thing about going with a matte finish like Semco, it still looks good on older weathered wood and you don’t have to build up layers to make it smooth again.

First coat on the left, cleaned teak on the right.

Based on lessons learned from the hand rails and the bow platform, I started right in on wiping the first coat on with a small cotton rag. Like magic the teak seemed to spring back to life. I’m using the Golden Tone color of Semco, so the color at first is a little orange, but I’ve found that it softens over time and overall I like the end result.

Within the same afternoon I wiped 3 coats on the entire cockpit. The most difficult part of the process is being vigilant about avoiding or removing drip from the adjacent fiberglass. Semco is so watery it would seem fairly benevolent to drips on white fiberglass, but apparently it’s really hard to get off once it dries.

I didn’t get to the cap rail today, but now that I can see the results in the cockpit I can hardly wait to dive into the next section. My neighbors in the harbor are already commenting on how good she’s starting to look.