“In caves in Western India, objects made from teak more than 2,000 years ago have been found intact — astonishing for untreated, uncared-for wood “. Source sSims.

This week has been all about teak. I have this crazy love affair with all things teak. (This week it’s more of a love-hate relationship because we are exhausted!) For our 25th anniversary we bought teak patio furniture for one side of the back deck in Mississippi. For our 40th we added a great dining table for the other side. Real romantic! I have always told Mac never buy me jewelry, I want furniture!

I can not leave teak pieces behind when I find them in a resale store! This week was no different. I spotted this table and four chairs several weeks ago at a consignment store here on Hilton Head. They were pretty rough, rather furry and greened over, but structurally great. After three times of visiting this set and trying to talk myself out of it, after all, I’m living aboard a boat with no room, I returned to the store last Saturday thinking, “If it’s still here today I have to buy it.” It was. I did.

I love bringing the glow back to a piece of old teak. It gives me a crazy satisfaction and sense of purpose to scrub off the goo and find the beauty underneath. So Tuesday Mac and I did just that. We spent most of the day at Mom’s house in the back yard treating and scrubbing the table and chairs with a solution that brings life back to what someone else probably discarded as junk. Out of curiosity I googled the brands of these pieces and am very satisfied that I have scored once again as a scavenger! Teak furniture is not cheap! So when you discover it at salvage prices it’s a thrill! It will last forever if you take care of it. We may not have much to leave our kids but they will inherit our teak outdoor collection and all the memories that go along with it.

So back to the boat. I often wonder what is it about boaters and their strong opinions about teak? It seems everyone has one. This product is best, that product is better, don’t use this, never try that, two part, one part , three part, synthetic, natural oil, no oil, varnish, no varnish, let it grey, rip it up or paint it over!! On a 40 year old boat like Pelican I would imagine every one of these methods has been employed by us and the previous owners at one time or another. I know we have tried numerous methods, spent countless dollars and exhausted many hours caring for the thousands of feet of teak in this old girl. Yes, I said thousands, all of the decks and three levels of rails and trim are teak on this boat. We are in our 60’s. We do not have numerous hours, or countless dollars. So our solution is, keep it raw and let it grey.

That may sound easy to some but here’s the deal. Our teak rails and trim have been varnished by previous owners. This week, with heat gun and scraper in hand, sometimes hanging upside down or crawling on our bellies, we chased down and chipped off the last smidge of varnish on Pelican. (Ok, I still have to tackle the ships wheel, but that’s another story). This process has been going on for three years at least. Heating and scraping, heating and scraping! A neighbor on the dock here, after watching us all week, told Mac he was going to sneak over in the dark of night and put some varnish back on one of the rails! Mac retorted, “Oh, please be sure to put it in a really obscure, hard to reach spot!”

After the scraping comes the cleaning and scrubbing. I discovered by accident once while cleaning the glass on my glass top coffee table on the porch that white vinegar makes a great teak cleaner. Mixed with water and rubbed onto the wet wood the vinegar immediately brings up the golden hue. Add a little, or sometimes quite a lot, of elbow grease with a stiff brush to bring up the black goo that gets into the wood plus some sunshine to dry it off, and you will have a good-as-new look. Teak contains oil and rubber from the original tree. They remain in the wood which is why it is so resistant to rot and pests and last forever!

So there you have it, our week of teak. It’s been a long time coming. Way back in April we pulled into MooreHaven on the Okeechobee and one of the locals who had very few teeth greeted us with “Hey, why does your teak look like sh-t!?” He went on to tell us he could get it shined up for us in no time! Yeah right. I wanted to ask him why his teeth looked like…well you get the picture. So we knew this chore was overdue but getting off the dock and on the journey was a higher priority for us. The thing is every boater knows that you can spend your time making your rails all shiny so everyone is gawking at your beautiful boat in the marina or you can let them go grey and get out on the water and live! I think we’ve made the better choice.


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