Gunwale refinish or replacement

-- Last Updated: Sep-04-13 8:04 AM EST --

I keep my boat outside off the patio deck 36" and under a breathable cover. Keeping the wood sound requires watco teak oil applications every other month especially during south Florida summer. Lately I noticed some white areas with a bit of texture that do not take stain or oil. The spots are not soft but the hardened wood layer is not there. Also, at the bow where the rails meet there are soft areas when I press with the tip of a screwdriver.

I was looking online and found some videos of replacing the wood gunwales and it looks like a project that I might be able to accomplish with my limited wood working skills. However, alot of TV shows make cooking and general home construction projects look easy.

Would it be an option to remove the existing gunwales and sand them down if sound after inspection and refinishing in the min wax urethane or something better than oil to give it a few more years of life or just replace with new? If I end up with the refinish idea, should two part epoxy be inserted to fill existing screw holes and allowed to dry so the connection is stronger when I connect the two rail parts?

Are there any videos or books showing how to remove gunwales and refinish or replace? Lastly, will just backing the screws out to inspect and try to sand be easier than removing the rails?

I would take them off
look for rot, replace what is necessary and finish with marine poly.

Getting gunwales shipped is a big deal. Because of the expense I am driving some gunwales for someone else from OH to MA . Someone else is bringing them from the Midwest.

Other fastener people can advice on epoxy better than I. I have only put new wood gunwales on.

Do you happen to know folks who
have used Ed’s sectional ash gunwales? I would need 20’ gunwales for an 18.5’ boat, and Ed’s has a set that would be long enough.

3 piece rails
I saw that NWS and Eds have the rails for ease of shipping but I don’t like the look of the scarf joint. There is an online article of someone who documented the whole process:

Marine Poly, after a bit of research found that Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane was a good one part varnish. Have you any other recommendations Kim? Also, would I be able after I sand down the rails apply a walnut oil stain and then top it with the varnish?