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Question:

Currently we own a lovely 1998 Malo 36 called Arctic Tern, but we’ve been experiencing a strange phenomenon regarding the teak caulking on the decks and especially around the cockpit area, which has so far baffled us.

The phenomenon relates to patches of caulking which seem to ‘dissolve’ and transition from being ‘solid’ black caulking into a soft, gooey substance not unlike Marmite, which then obviously attaches itself to shoes, trousers or whatever comes into contact with it.

It seems quite ‘patchy’ and random – a few inches out of a whole long strip of caulking will suddenly do this – very strange.

We originally suspected it must be because we’ve ‘dropped’ something contaminating onto the caulking (such as diesel, petrol, oil, grease or butter) but we’ve been scrupulous about that recently yet the effect still occurs.

We also wondered whether it was heat – especially as we have a cockpit tent erected much of the time – but this effect is so random and localised we don’t think it’s that either.

Have you ever come across this happening to teak caulking before and, if so, are you able to shed any light on what the primary cause may be?

Stephen William

Answer:

Robert Howells of Taffhowells.co.uk replies

It sounds most likely that a cleaner with some sort of acetate base has been used here. A lot of teak cleaners on the market bring up the teak nicely but will end up turning the caulking gooey.

It often will only occur in patches as you have experienced here. I’m afraid the only way back from where you are is to dig out the affected areas and re-caulk.

Teak looks gorgeous when it first goes down and a lot of people want to keep that fresh look.

But I always say it will go grey and there’s nothing you can do about that. Any chemical-based cleaners really tend to have an effect on the caulking and will never bring back the fresh brown colour of newly laid teak decking.

Cleaning should be done with soapy water and a medium bristled brush. Make sure to always use the brush across the grain.

The most effective product I have come across for protection is Discovery Marine Timber Oil, which has been formulated for use by everyone and only includes natural products to give a water-resistant barrier and nourishment for most timbers.

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