While I've built 5 S&G boats, I know very little about how to varnish them; I just blindly did as I was told. That's no longer satisfactory. Lately I've been reading forums, etc, about the subject but I still have a couple unresolved questions. And I think the answers would be of interest to other builders.
First, a two part question: with regard to Pettit Captain and Pettit Flagship, I understand that these are very similar but Flagship has stronger UV protection while Captain is much easier to apply. I've used 4 to 5 coats of Flagship in the past but I'm thinking I might find it easier to use Captain and apply 6 to 7 coats; would I get equivalent UV protection? But then I've recently become aware that System Three is now selling a varnish, and since the boats are System Three epoxy, would it make sense to use their varnish? It looks like that would be a cost savings of 20% or more. I'd like to see enough differing opinions on this to get totally confused, since in my experience I tend to make better decisions when I'm confused by too many facts.
Second, I've always used a final dry brushing when applying coats of resin or varnish to break any bubbles and smooth the coat. But lately I tried using a heat gun (with great delicacy) on epoxy coats, and I've been getting better results ---really smooth finish that needs no sanding (but see below; YMMV). Can I use a heat gun on varnish? Does anyone use a heat gun on varnish?
Uh, about what I consider a really smooth finish ---it may not meet anyone else's standard. I figure that my boat is only going to be viewed up close when it is on the car or after a trip to or from a launch point, so any minor flaws in the finish will disappear under the road dust. I have no intention of using any of my boats as mantle pieces. They are for play, not pieces of art.
I've got a newly finished boat and a recently renovated boat to varnish before sunny days become a concern next Spring. Perhaps I'll have yet another newly done boat by then, too. Much depends on reorganizing outbuildings and moving stuff from garage to shed...