Varnish, Varnish, Varnish!

Varnish 2015….NOT

Westsail 42 Dorade

Westsail 42 Dorade

You know you have good varnish when a fellow cruiser asks you, “Did you just varnish”?  This question was after 13 -14 months of not having varnished and we were just thinking of re doing it.  She wasn’t too happy to hear how old it was and that we were considering redoing it!  They (she and her husband)  were discussing what to do with the teak on their boat. ( I won’t name names so as to protect the innocent and not so innocent).

It took us about 3 months to complete the job. That is 3 months of intermittent varnishing between moving the boat, seeing the sites and hiding from the rain. But finish we have. If we can work straight through; without trying to commit varnish-cide, it takes us about 8-19 days working 1/2 days.

When we moved across the lagoon to Te Tau Tua one of the reasons was to complete the varnish job on the rub rails. There we could do the prep and varnishing from the dinghy  as opposed to me holding W/ by the feet while she reaches over the side of the boat to scuff, wipe down and varnish the rails. Obviously, I would get a little tired keeping her in that position for any length of time. 🙂

Just to clarify: we use Signature Finishes; Honey Teak.  For the initial few recoats we were putting on two coats

Westsail 42 Custom Companionway with Honey Teak

Westsail 42 Custom Companionway with Honey Teak

every 12-18 months but a couple of years ago we figured to try just one on some sections and viola!  We never could tell the difference.  So now our process is to take a red scotch brite pad , scuff the surface, wipe down with Alcohol (don’t worry it’s not the drinking kind) – I think we would let the wood go natural if we had to use the good stuff!  Once it’s wiped down we apply with a foam brush we / generally W/ puts the varnish on as Im clean up support at this point.  An hour or so after the varnish is applied we pull off any taping we did and by 2 hours Mother Nature can spit rain all she wants and the varnish is still good.  In the hot tropics we’ve even had it rain about 45 minutes after application and we’ve still been good!  Sweet!

We have gone as long as 18 months between recoats and a friend on Salty Dog went three years!  But he did say quietly that he would have been best to recoat after 2 years as there were some largish spots to redo.

For us, we keep it on for two reasons: 1)  we do like the looks of it, the teak sets the boat off nicely, and 2) Natural Teak isn’t forever.  Varnish protects it from excessively drying out, getting brittle and hollowing out from cleaning and constantly oiling.

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