Varnish/Teak Oil/Other Magic Products?

Puffin is all Teak on deck apart from the Tiller & Bowsprit. There is no query with the non teak parts, these will be sanded & varnished. The Teak has had some varnish and some other coating which are flaking and look dreadful. I want Puffin to look her best but I want to spend my time sailing not varnishing. I think the previous owner tried some coatings which looked good for a short time but soon flaked and I am tempted to return to a Teak Oil, but which one?. What do Sam Morse use on the original Teak? What’s the best way of cleaning off the old stuff? This must be a subject near to the heart of all FC owners. Advice greatly appreciated.


First off, welcome to the Falmouth Cutter family and congratulations on your new purchase. I know you will be extremely pleased with your Falmouth Cutter and hope that you will share with the rest of us your experiences with Puffin.

There are as many opinions on preferred teak maintenance as there are Falmouth Cutter owners, running the gamut from not treating the wood at all to applying many coats of varnish. Each owner will need to balance often conflicting goals and objectives when it comes to wood maintenance.

Whatever course you decide upon, you will need to ensure that you properly prepare the wood. I have had great success with the use of a heat gun to remove old and flaking coats of varnish, but that too will depend on what existing coatings are on the wood and one’s personal preferences and skills with a heat gun or other removal method. I have also used varnish remover with good success. Time spend in properly preparing the wood is often the most critical factor in determing the future success of whatever treatment you choose to use.

With some trepidation, I will now address the issue of teak treatments. I have had great success with Epifanes, particularly their Rapid Coat and Rapid Clear products. They are easy to apply, do not require sanding between coats, do not flake and peel like varnish, and have a rich semi gloss appearance. I receive many compliments regarding the beautiful wood finish on my Falmouth Cutter, and like yours, my FC has an all teak exterior with the exception of the bowsprit, boomkin, and boom gallows. Of course, it requires more work to maintain than not treating the wood or using a product like Cetol, but I am extremely pleased with the result. For me, it has proven to be an ideal product when I balance out all the variables.

I am certain others will have different, and equally valid views. As with most things, there is not absolutely right answer. Know that you own one of the world’s best sailboats and treat her accordingly.