Red Beauty

We have recently completed work on Red Beauty in our covered workshop. She has had a brand new replacement Teak Deck and Cockpit. The original deck was old, cracked and worn and in generally poor shape. We started by stripping off the existing teak.

3rd June Stripping existing deck

We have started stripping the existing deck taking care to ensure the deck is in good condition, in particular making sure that the exposed deck shows no sign of damp or ingress of water.

28th June Laying down first planks

We have now started putting the first few planks in place. The deck has almost been completely stripped. We’ve also completed the first hatch cover.

September All Done

The work is now complete and we are really proud of how she has turned out.

In spite of continuous loving care the teak deck on my 1977 Swan 411 needed urgent replacement. The stainless steel fixing screws were showing through and the by now ‘proud’ caulking was increasingly frequently dislodged. There was only so much Sikaflex I could use and ‘patching up’ was no longer the solution.

Replacing the deck, now 36 years old, was to be no small undertaking, nor without considerable cost – up to a quarter of the yachts value. Equally, choosing the right yard to do this was crucial. I had looked along the South coast and had even considered Portugal as a venue for the work to be done. What was most important was ensuring that the craftsman would do a first class job.

Tom Cunliffe came to the rescue (in an article in Yachting Monthly) – he too had needed a new deck for his yacht Constance and he had, with his wife done the necessary research. The answer was TLC Boat repairs in Conwy, Wales, run by Barry Lovell. Tom was very happy with Constance‘s new deck so I spoke to Barry on the phone – yes he could do it and with advice from him on transport, Red Beauty arrived in his shed at the beginning of May 2013. He gave a price on the phone, sight unseen, to which I agreed.

Frequent visits were encouraged – we spoke often about various details and nothing was too much trouble for Barry and his team. The earliest visit was a little unnerving – seeing Red Beauty with her deck half stripped resulted in a sharp intake of breath. However, by this stage I was fully confident of Barry’s skills. Such confidence is essential – a parallel might be having a new roof on your house – when the old tiles are removed is no time to realise you have little confidence in the roofing team!

The work was intense and frequently difficult – numerous stainless steel bolts (mainsheet track/winches etc) had been fitted by Nautor’s Swan with such security that removal necessitated difficult work ‘below decks’ over many hours.

Once Barry started fitting the new 10mm teak to the, by now, pristine original fibreglass, I could see how beautiful the finished product would be and by the end of August, on time, the work was finished. The deck was perfect and in truth even better than the original fitted by those fine craftsmen in Finland. Not only that but the inside had been completely cleaned, with cushions back in place and ‘ready to go’.

I can’t recommend TLC Boat repairs, with Barry at the helm, highly enough. A skilled craftsman, keen to do the best job possible, are hard to find. He can be found in Conwy – if you need a new deck you will be fortunate if your yacht can find a ‘slot’ in Barry’s schedule – if you have to wait it will be well worth it.

David Skinner

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