UNIQUE TEAK

 


A yacht has the power to seduce as soon as our toes touch its teak.  Yacht decking is renowned for being both cool and soft on contact,  but as Feadship’s Manager of the Carpentry Department explains, not all teak decks are created equal.

'There are many details that distinguish a Feadship from any other yacht brand,' says Chris Cecil-Wright, 'but one that I often talk about with clients is teak. Their teak decks are harder, thicker and with a uniform colour that sets them apart from the rest. Feadship teak still looks fresh after twenty years.'

Jos van der Meer has been working in the carpentry department of Feadship for 34 years and his appreciation of teak, a tropical hardwood, is deeply ingrained. Though it is an expensive product to source from the forests of Myanmar, Jos believes that there is no substitute. 'It’s teak or nothing,' he says simply, 'It’s non-slip with no splinters, so you can walk on it with bare feet; the colour is rich when wet and a light grey when dry, so in the burning sun it feels cool; and teak likes water.'

NATURAL SELECTION
Feadship never cuts corners – when they buy teak, they have people go into the wild for them in Myanmar to identify the perfect trees. 'We pay more to have the first selection,' says Jos, 'The best logs are the ones found standing in the centre of a group – only the top of the tree is in the sun so the trunk will grow straight and quickly. This creates long planks with straight lines, which means we can buy them up to 7 metres in length.'

Feadship buys 120 cubic metres of teak annually, regardless of orders. The logs need to dry in a natural state for seven years – under a roof in the open air – before they can be used. 'We need between 7 and 12% of humidity in the wood for it to have the ability to expand and shrink,' Jos explains, 'The plank grows when it’s wet, making the rubber seams between the planks rise, and this creates a non-slip surface for deck shoes. When the wood dries, it shrinks again – just as in nature.'

FULLY DECKED OUT
Yachts require an enormous amount of teak: a 70m vessel will need 40-50 cubic metres for the decking alone, and Feadship’s largest creation to date, the 101.5m SYMPHONY, used 110 cubic metres throughout. Though Jos’s colleagues might survey sixty logs that are delivered to a depot in Holland or Germany each month, they will only choose the six best logs. 'We are very critical,' he says, 'We use 40 per cent of the log for the decking – the highest quality – and the rest we will use for interior ceilings or furniture.'

 Feadship chooses to use planks that are 25mm thick, whereas many other companies will use just 6 or 8mm. 'Teak likes water, but the glue doesn’t,' Jos says, 'If you have a transatlantic crossing, and water is splashing onto the teak for several weeks, it could get into the glue.  So we make our teak thicker and we’ve had  no problems with that.' 

SMOOTH SAILING
In the Van Lent workshop, each plank is smoothed and shaped to fit the vessel. Once onboard, a team of twelve people will work on the decking and exterior ceiling, gluing and bolting each plank in place and filling the gaps between them with black rubber. Once the painter has done the last spray of the project,  the planks are sanded to bring out the black lines and the patterns in the teak. 'It’s a quick story, but a long process,' laughs Jos, 'To understand it you need to be able to see it onboard – and feel it with your feet.'

'We keep ten years’ worth of teak in stock because it takes time to find it, and we only use the best.' 

Jos van der Meer, Manager, Carpentry Department Feadship

Contact the team