Beefing Up an Aluminum & Teak Cockpit

“A cockpit sole is a high live-load area on a boat,” says Ben, one of GIBY’s three carpenters. “It must be overbuilt.”

To ensure this would be the case on board a Kanter 54 being refitted at GIBY over the winter, the boat owner and service team agreed to beef up support of the boat’s aluminum and teak cockpit, as the sole was beginning to show signs of flex.

“Along with slight flexing of the cockpit sole, we found that water infiltration from the cockpit drains and table mounts had begun to contribute to the delamination of the original teak decking,” Ben explains.

To address these concerns, the project management team asked Ben to remove the existing cockpit sole and apply a base layer of 1/4″ G-10 panel using teak decking epoxy, formulated with special elasticizers that make the cured epoxy more flexible and resistant to failure. They also asked Ben to epoxy backing-nuts to the underside of the G-10 base, to better secure the new cockpit drains. The original drains had only been caulked and were not previously fastened by drain-nuts.

Using a template, Ben then transferred the cockpit layout directly to a panel of marine-grade Okume plywood, reworking the decking layout to hide discrepancies that were found in the original cockpit. By strategically compensating for variances in the build across the full layout, Ben subtly altered the width of the teak planks and borders to deliver the desired visual effect.

Ben then utilized the large deck panel to map out the cockpit joints. By breaking the single panel into multiple sections, he was able to plan and navigate around obstacles – such as the steering station and the structural beam for the main sheet traveler – and overcome various installation challenges. Next, he sealed the Okume panels with epoxy and added a layer of 1.5 oz fiberglass mat to their undersides to ensure extra strength and better mechanical adhesion upon installation. Working with the smaller, easy-to-handle panels proved advantageous, as these aided in not scratching the new paint job during dry-fitting.

Final fit and finish of the new cockpit will take place later this spring.

Once sanding is complete, the newly fabricated teak deck will be a 1/2″ thick, super sturdy, and – as we like to say in Maine – wicked good looking!

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