Mike McCrea

Can you update us on your wood oil/varnish exposure experiment please ?

Yes, interested varnish tippers want to

Come on Mike
Tell us what you have been oiling, varnishing and exposing.

Tell us the news.

Mike’s on somewhat of a…
…hiatus, Hyannis Port, hyaenas starboard, from P-net (somethin’ bout it givin’ him as much joy these days as personal testicular extraction via Cuisinart).

That said, I’ll see if he wouldn’t mind if I took a few photos, for posting with labeled captions, of the variously finish-coated wood samples exposed to wind, sun and rain for many months at the southerly end of his boat rack.


Gee, I do hope it was something I wrote!
Well, no. But yah. Well, let me explain.

I think the world of Mike and wish him no ill will. After one of the first McCrea events I attended, I sent him an email in which I made some comments that I thought my paddling partner might find embarassing. Mike copied it into one of his widely distributed trip reports. When I asked Mike about potentially hurting the feelings of the individual, Mike explained that in duckhead culture it is almost a sacred duty to make known to all anything silly, embarassing or dumb that happens, and to heap abuse on the victims and perpertrators of such. And to my surprise, the person I had just paddled with for the first time, and who I was worried about embarassing, LOVED the abuse–cut it out and posted it on their office wall!

So, ever since, whenever Mike posted and presented an opportunity to rib him, I’d heap on the abuse. Of course, it’d be tongue-in-cheek on my part, but sometimes on a forum the recipient of the abuse can’t tell it is tongue-in-cheek.

But seriously, I miss Mike’s contributions to the forum and feel we are all the poorer because of Mike’s hiatus. So, I hope it wasn’t anything I wrote that drove him off.


No! No!
It was something I wrote!!!


No gentlemen, I believe it has…
…more to do with with a general, Unbearable Surliness of Being. Something, semi-back-on-topic, I myself encountered once, having unwisely mixed my finishes of Watco’s There In the Teakey Room with a Mr. Topher’s Magical Mojito Varnish.

Nothing a good sanding and re-application can’t fix, once the scalin’ and blisterin’ and bubblin’ to superficial seething ceases from downunder.

Till then, as always, quite Frankly, we paddle on.

Mike no longer posts here I am advised
But I was sent this information by a third party.

“Top row:

Helmsman Spar Urethane (3 coats)

Sikkens Cetol Marine (3 coats)

Sikkens Cetol Marine Lite (3 coats)

Epifanes Clear Spar (3 coats)

Epifanes Rapidclear (3 coats)

Coronado Marine Spar (3 coats)

Bottom row:

Control (no finish)

West System Epoxy (two coats)

West System (two coats) with one coat Coronado varnish over top

GunwaleGuard (3 coats + once yearly)

Oil mix (1/3 varnish, 1/3 boiled linseed, 1/3 turpentine) x 3 coats + once yearly

Watco oil (3 coats + once yearly)


All the varnishes were thinned (or not) as recommended. The labeled sections of gunwale are screwed (left over stainless screws) into a piece of vinyl siding. All the screw holes were countersunk and varnish/epoxy/oil finished inside using a pipe cleaner. The test panel is screwed vertically onto my canoe rack out in the weather in partial shade.

The test panel went up in June 2008 and I’m overdue for a reoiling of the pieces that get once yearly rub downs, but the first year results are already revealing:

Top row from worst to best:

Sikkens Cetol Marine and Sikkens Cetol Marine Lite. Not terrible, but both show a little more weathering already than any of the other varnished pieces.

Epifanes Clear Spar and Epifanes Rapidclear. Still pretty good, with just a tiny bit of weathering.

Coronado Marine Spar. A bit of a surprise as the best of the “real” varnishes.

Helmsman Spar Urethane. The real shocker. By far the most commonly available and least expensive, and by far the best so far. Straight outa the can.

Bottom row from worst to best:

West System Epoxy. I’m astounded how bad epoxy went in 14 months time without a UV protective top coat. Flaking, cracking and peeling, it looks like wood leprosy.

Gunwale Guard. Also nasty. Although all of the test pieces of scrap gunwale were dry, aged and sanded down to 400 grit the GunwaleGuard treated piece has raised wood fuzz and separating grain.

Control (no finish). Actually better than the gawful unprotected epoxy or the fuzzing GunwaleGuard.

Watco – Not as good as I thought it would be.

DIY oil mix – Marginally better than the Watco. I’m thinking the oiled pieces need more than a one-a-year light sanding and reoiling.

West System with one coat Coronado varnish. As good as any of the top row varnishes. I’m amazed at the UV protection that a single coat of varnish over epoxy affords.

It’ll be interesting to see how each finish does with more than a year’s time, and how the oil finishes do with yearly sanding and recoatings, but after 14 months exposure I’m liking Helmsman Spar Urethane, Coronado Marine Spar and epoxy resin with a UV varnish topcoat as the “plastic” protectants and the DIY oil mix of varnish/boiled linseed and turps as the oil rub.”

Looks like your preference for PU
might be bearing out.

That preference was based upon
Years of experience & studying in the coatings industry.

I’m coming around to acrylics as
superior to oil-based paint for some exterior applications, as well. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed I would ever make such a statement.

What was that line from “The Graduate”?

Maybe Mike thinks we don’t believe he
was a Navy WALRUS.

I don’t know, what was that line ?