The Flybridge Makeover That Never Ends

I know that after this post I will get some feedback, but not all positive. I have committed a major sin in the trawler society, but I am not sorry and offer no apologies. The interior of the flybridge is finished, the uppermost of the outside now has a fresh coat of paint and it all looks great. Now it's time to finish up and get the last two steps of this ongoing project finished so I can move on to other more pressing parts of the to-do list. The inside of the flybridge is now fiberglassed to the deck and there will be no removal possible, so it's only logical that the outside gets the same treatment.


We have been cursed with an excess of teak on this boat as well as our previous sailboat, Sea Trek. The teak looks beautiful and we got lots of positive comments on the boat's appearance, but keeping it up is not at all fun, and frankly, we would rather be doing other things. So if any of the teak can be eliminated without changing the aesthetics of the boat, we are all for it. Add to the problem that all of the screws holding the teak go through the cabin sides and decks, and you get lots of sources for water leaks. This is exactly what has happened with the teak brows attached to the cabin in various places. One choice is to remove it, re-bed the screws and re-attach it to eliminate the leaks. Removing it is very difficult without damaging the small strips so we chose the next best option. Get rid of it all together, if possible. The teak border around the lower outside of the flybridge was in such bad condition that we opted to not even attempt to varnish it anymore and just painted over it until we could finally reach this point. The one-inch brow was also on the elimination list. It had to be caulked to keep it from leaking, and the caulk always looked dirty. The narrow strip also made it a pain to varnish.

With the brow removed, all of the many screw holes were opened up with a countersink bit, filled, covered with small strips of fiberglass cloth and then fairing compound covered the whole area to eliminated uneven spots, voids and other irregularities in the gelcoat. A big surprise, once the brow was removed, was that there was a wide gap in the fiberglass under the strips. This all had to be re-glassed. Everything was sanded smooth with 150-grit sandpaper and our trusty orbital sander. The surface received three coats of AwlGrip 545 primer, each coat sanded with 220. Then three coats of AwlGrip Cloud White would be applied after the handrail sections were removed.

The bungs were removed and the screws extracted. The screws in the handrails were over 3 inches long. Keep in mind that we have already painted the white above this trim. It was important to be careful and not damage that new paint. The teak came off without too much effort, but some time was spent cleaning what was left of the old caulking that has been there since the boat was built.

With the wood removed and the caulking all cleaned off, the underlying fiberglass was sanded, all of the screw holes filled and the sides glassed to the deck just as we did with the interior of the flybridge. Rather than try and do all of this at one time, I did sections. Once the glassing was done and everything faired, three coats of gray 545 primer was applied. This strip was going to get a dark color, so the gray primer was a better choice.

This is a good example of what the surface looked like once the teak was removed. It was not a pretty sight and the gaps could vary from a fraction of an inch to an inch or more that would have to be filled and fiberglassed. The clean-up process alone was messy and time-consuming.

But little by little, things began to look better and the whole process moved forward, albeit at a slow pace sometimes. The reason I decided to do sections at a time, instead of just pulling everything off and tackling the whole thing at once, was my fear that I would have everything pulled apart and we would get one of our South Florida torrential downpours, creating lots of problem. Doing it in sections, I could at least get the section I opened up cleaned and sealed with some fiberglass in one day.

We try to keep the mess down as much as possible when working on paint and fiberglass and also try and keep as much as possible out of the environment. My Porter Cable orbital sander is easily attached to my shop vac and eliminates most of the dust involved with all of this sanding. And my neighbors in adjoining slips appreciate it too. The down side is that the vacuum has to be dragged around while I am sanding, but it's well worth it. The clean up and prep goes faster too.

Once the fiberglass work, priming and all of the other prep work was completed, and the surface was smooth and fair enough for painting, three coats of AwlGrip Teal was applied where the wood trim had been. This is the same teal color that we painted on the Boot Stripe during the spring commissioning. The overhang was painted with three coats of Cloud White. Any hardware that had been removed - antenna mounts, boat hook mounts - were re-bedded and re-installed. Things were really coming together.

The navigation lights, which were too tiny in my opinion, made of very old bronze with faded lenses, were also replaced. The new Aqua Signal lights are much larger and will be considerably more visible at night. We chose the white plastic rather than black to give a better contrast to the Teal stripe.

We also found a very nice set of wicker-type furniture at Lowe's that was a good size for the flybridge. It's an outdoor plastic material so it should hold up well in the marine environment, and the light weight won't put additional poundage up in the flybridge. We just love it when a plan comes together. Next step will be to remove the brows on the lower section of the cabin sides.


  1. I love, love, love the look of teak. But I also completely understand your thoughts on upkeep. It looks to me like you've made some nice choices/changes.

  2. Thanks a bunch. We really like the way things are developing. I just can't wait to get all of this work done and get back on the water so we can enjoy the boat for a while. It won't be long.

  3. I love the Lowes furniture. What a great idea. I bought 4 chairs at west marine that I don't love. When those die, I'll know where to go.

  4. Eric, The price was right too. We looked for outdoor furniture all over Naples and Marco Island and couldn't believe the prices. These turned out to be a great deal. Sorry about the West chairs.

  5. Looks great, just one question. Why didn't you put the grab rails back on?

  6. They were in pretty bad shape and we never used them anyway. The idea is to remove as much wood as possible so we don't have to maintain it. They are also a pain to keep clean and again we wanted the screw holes to go away. There were lots of them in the handrails. If we ever decide we need handrails we'll replace them with stainless steel. Chuck

  7. We recently picked up a MT36 with the same issue - leaks. I too am contemplating removing the teak border around the lower outside of the fly bridge. My question is how many man hours did it take for your project?

    W.T & Tammy
    M/V Sea Chantey

    1. I quit keeping track of the hours a project takes me a long time ago because it usually scares me. But I would say it took a day to remove the teak, sand the areas around the holes and fill with epoxy. That needs to dry and then another 4 hours or so to sand the epoxy and fill in any spots with fairing compound. And then of course the rest will depend on how you plan to finish it. Since we repainted the entire cabin sides before adding the stripe, it took considerably more time. Hope this helps. Chuck

  8. Hi Chuck, this is an ongoing project that I hope to have finished this weekend, but I thought you might find this interesting.

    1. Great post Tony. It sure brings back memories. Chuck


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