Oh Boy. You have opened up an area where people have strong opinions and little data. I think I have tried them all over the 35 years I have owned boats with brightwork--every varnish
and substitute. My view is that you are with the best. The stuff needs to be thick (although you need to thin with first coats on bare wood and the grey is UV inhibitors which are critical to the stuff lasting) Here is why Epiphanes is the best:
1. It has the most UV inhibitors and the tropical charter
boats who do brightwork do not use anything but Epiphanes--I know what I am talking about on this one, I spent two years in the tropics.
2. The Smith epoxies are probably better for lasting in the sun but they do not move with the wood, so you get cracking if there are any joints in your woodwork or at juntures with other materials that expand at different rates.
3. My view is that all the pseudo products ("Honey Teak", Cetol) look like pseudo products. Epiphanes will look natural when applied. These products always look fake. Why not just go all the way to plastic if you want something fake?
Here are some tips on Epiphanes:
1. Read a book on the subject of prep and varnish. Not just a chapter. The book I recommend is BrightWork by Rebecca Whitman. You can cut some of her corners, but not if you want to have the showpieces she produces. This is the bible of varnish.
2. Prep is very important. Start out with 50/50 thinnner on first coats.
3. Plan on at least 6 coats first time around. Better to have 8. I have to strip my varnish about every 6-8 years after that if I quickly sand and coat each season after the initial. Folks stop by my boat to ask how it is done.
4. Fix nicks with scratch (sand) and patch in between to keep moisture out.
You are going to get a barage of stuff from this posting
. Most of it will have the data point of one. This is one data point.