How many coats of varnish?

Mar 31, 2018
Hunter 340 Racine, WI
I have re-stained and am varnishing the hatch pull on our Hunter 340 -- any recommnedations on how many coats of varnish to use? Someone said 10, which seems excessive to me, but a woodworker I am not. Any ideas apprecated!
Sep 25, 2008
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Many people say they can discern the depth of shine resulting from 6 -10 coats. I never can. What I found is that up north, a few coats exposed to the sun last at least one season but usually not more than 2.
Here in Florida, two or three coats wouldn't last 2 months unless covered. Consequently, the more, the better is a simple way of saying "how long do you want it to last?"
Jun 5, 2010
Hunter 25 Burlington NJ
You’re in Wisconsin; so how long is your season? - 4 months? I’d say one coat per season (not the same as one coat per year). Keeping the boat covered from UV is key. The hotter the sun is, the longer it’s exposed to the sun, the more you need - even if it’s a good UV-protecting spar varnish. (Spar varnish is made for wooden masts, which should NEVER be painted because you won’t see damage or rot. It’s long-lasting and UV-protecting from the start. I've used Schooner and Captain’s for decades.)

Handrails are notoriously awkward to mask off and varnish. The more you put on, the longer it will last - GIVEN GOOD PREPARATION. My mahogany grab rails (Cherubini style) have like 5 coats right now but they’ll get at least three more before the Shrinkwrap comes off. In Florida you’ll sand and put on a coat three times a year. In the Caribbean 4 times.

A guy with a C44 sailed over the Atlantic, did the Med, and sailed back. The guy said it cost NINE COATS. Don’t underestimate the sun.
May 25, 2012
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
first you put on as many coats as it takes to fill every pore in the woods surface. then you start your count. 6/ 10 from there on lake michigan prolly be good.

then each season, fix and build up and and all nicks, the 2 coats on everything.

it never stops. it's a game we play. easy peezee


i'm just north of you in sturge.
in the tropics i would be adding a coat every month if i had not done a top coat in white paint to be removed when back north.

after growing up with dad's wood boats, varnish upkeep ain't much.

here comes season 48 with aeolus in the family.
May 25, 2012
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
the first couple of coats are reduced big time to help soak in deep so as to grip the wood better.

two thin coats are better than one thick coat. no runs please.
dad said "you need 10,000 hours of sanding before you get to apply the varnish. you can do more damage in ten minutes with a brush than you can sand back out in days."