Sanding/varnish question RE: Cockpit, Hatches and Hatch Rims

Looking for some quick advice --

Do people normally sand and varnish the following places:

The inside of the cockpit? -- this one seems the most daunting -- mostly because it would be hard to reach all the spots.

The Underside of the hatch lids?

The hatch rims?

If not -- do I just leave the epoxy as it is?

Thanks again,


3 replies:

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RE: Sanding/varnish question RE: Cockpit, Hatches and Hatch Rims

Hi Dave, 

where i begin on this question is,  'what is my primary purpose in applying varnish?'  

my answer to that is that epoxy exposed to sunlight will break relatively quickly...and i don't want all my efforts to go to waste because i did not protect my epoxy.   so if you don't want your epoxy that is exposed to light to break down, you have got to paint it or apply an appropriate marine grade varnish.

after that, its pure decoration.    the challenge, however, with that pure decoration, is if you ever need to repair epoxy, you cannot repair it until the paint or varnish is removed....becuase epoxy is not compatible to be layered on top of varnish or paint....and it's a hassle to remove that stuff.

also,paint (one part) and varnish do not hold up well to i don't apply paint or varnish to areas that is going to get abraided.

that said, in answer to your question,  my approach to finishing with varnish is:

inside of cockpit, yes to inside edge of the coaming, the sides and rear of the cockpit and forward of the seat to the start of where the foot pegs might be.  i don't varnish underneath the deck.   basically, i will put varnish where i think the sun may shine.  i use blue tape to mark off where i put the varnish.

underside of hatches: no

hatch rims: no ....but i will make sure to varnish down from the deck to the hatch rim where it might see some sun.

anyway, i hope that helps.


RE: Sanding/varnish question RE: Cockpit, Hatches and Hatch Rims

Thank h,

I really appreciate the advice -- it makes total sense about the sunshine.

My next question is - in those areas you mentioned, should I sand to the same level as the hull and deck (i.e. 120-180-220)? and if so, do you try to get it as flat and uniform as the deck and hull?

Or would something like a scruff up with Scotch Brite Marron sufficient?

I can't say that I was a dilligent with the epoxy in the interior of the cockpit as I was with the deck and hull, so it has many more irregularities.  Getting that faired out like the deck would be a lot of work.  As for the area around the hatches -- getting in those areas with sanpaper seems like a tedious job -- especially if they need to have the same uniform flat sanded finish as the deck?

I hope I'm not just being lazy - I just really want to get this boat in the water.


RE: Sanding/varnish question RE: Cockpit, Hatches and Hatch Rims

hi Dave,

i don't generally sand the interiors but if there is a piece of the interior that is going to get varnished, i will hit it with a scotch brite pad and clean up the dust with denatured alcohol prior to varnishing. 

i will also clean up, with a small sanding block, any obvious spills or drops that are in the easy-to-see part of the cockpit....but i don't generally sweat the interior and it gets nothing like the attention i pay to the outside of the boat.

as for hatches, my main issue is just that they sit where they are supposed to sit....and i don't sweat that either once i have accomplished that.

i do, however, clean up with a small sanding block with 80 paper,  any sharp or jagged edges that may have developed in the interior due to dropping thickened epoxy of pieces of interior glass work that did not lay flat to the wood.   

this inspection for sharp edges, to me, is an important (and slightly dangerous) step.....but basically i am trying to ensure that nobody, myself included, gets injured by a sharp bit that is residual from construction when they are using the boat.  so the best time to do this is after the hull/deck get joined and you are prepping for final paint work.   

most of the time its going to be errant fibreglass that forms these little sharp edges, and they can be knocked down with that little sanding block.  i then vacume out any dust and its done.  this work, fwiw, is sort of blind and i will reach in (this is the dangerous part) and lightly swipe my hand across all of the interior i can reach.  if my hand comes out bloody (or i detect something sharp), i go back in with that little sanding block and knock it down.

fwiw, i agree with your sentiment to get it done and on the water.   you can always do more sandng you next off-season.


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