Click for Part 2 “Caulking the hull to deck joint”ย where we fill the joint with 5200.

It’s been awfully quiet around here lately which usually means we’re up to something. Something crazy. Unbeknownst to Tate these past two Fridays I was feeling especially adventurous. I get off half days on Friday and head to the boat to see what I can accomplish.

A week ago I removed now the starboard teak slats and used my hose technique to pinpoint the source of a few leaks.

Indeed I found quite a few from the hull to deck joint. I went up top and found the outside caprail caulk seam was wet, had let go of its bond and easily pulled it out. Wow, that’s not good.

Removing the caulk revealed a gap under the caprail where I could see that silicone had been used. Yes silicone.

Tate said this was the kiss of death and that we might actually have to remove the caprails now since anything we put under there won’t stick to the silicone and will fail to make a good seal. Damn. Oh well we’ll just think on it. Removing the caprails is a big deal. We’ve read many accounts where the teak broke into pieces and/or was rotten and had to be replaced. It was something unknown we weren’t yet ready to tackle.

But a week passed, the rain went away and the weather turned perfect so during my trip to the boat yesterday I just couldn’t wait. Like the possibility of hidden treasure or that next hand of blackjack I just had to see if maybe on this we’d get lucky. Maybe, just maybe the caprail would come up easy. It was a simple dry rotted bung exposing an innocuous little screw that started the cascade of events that follow.

Our caprails are luckily already split in a few places and I know for sure part of the starboard side has been removed before as evidenced by the silicone underneath. I started with one small section. First I just wanted to see how easily the bungs would come out. Then how easily the screws would come out and from there off came all 3 of the caprail sections starting right before the genoa track forward to the curved piece.

Like a cat bringing home a dead bird I brought Tate home my surprise. “Surprise! Here’s a piece of our caprail”. The look on his face was one I don’t see very often and that pleased me. Add spice to life they say! Of course he had a few “questions”. Technical questions and what not, but overall he thinks it was a good decision as well.

The caprail came up easyish. Sort of easy. I had to find each and every bung and tap a small flat head screwdriver in the middle to break it in half. That sounds better than what happened. I actually had to finagle quite a bit to get the entire bung out without damaging the surrounding wood.

Often there was caulk at the bottom and in the flat head screw groove. I used a small screwdriver to route out the groove really well and then applied LOTS and LOTS of pressure straight down while attempting to remove the old and corroded screws without stripping them. Many screws were very hard to get out without twisting and breaking. I literally had to turn each screw about 1/60 of the way each time to ease them out.

After I was SURE I got all the screws out I started to very gently pry the caprail up with a pry bar and screw driver. I scraped the caulk off and worked my way on one side and then the other until it finally came off. IN ONE PIECE.

It was scary, exciting and glorious all in one! I was worried about dragons lurking underneath but instead found this and had to laugh:

So what on earth was under there? Well it appeared to be a mix of many different caulks. It was obvious that someone had been under here before. There was silicone, 4200ish stuff and the main caulk used in the joint was hard and brittle like I suspect 5200 or something similar would get over 20 years.

I cleaned out the joint and surrounding area with small flat head screwdriver and brush just to see what we were dealing with. Not that scary after all.

Today I took off the other 2 pieces:

I think we can get away with only taking up this part of the caprails. I have looked all along the hull to deck joint inside the boat and didn’t find much leaking other than in the middle. Also we won’t really care if it leaks in the very front or the very back. We would like to avoid removing the curved pieces as well as the genoa track, which already has a boat load of butyl tape shoved under it. I’ll just redo the caulk seam really well in the areas we leave.

So the question remains, what to fill this joint with so she never leaks again? Most I read says Boat Life or other poly-sulfide is the best, but who knows. Maybe someone out there knows and wants to share?

Port side caprail removal is tomorrow, if my hands don’t fall off during the night.