7. I started varnishing with the hardest-to-reach places (like the base of the mast step, beneath the grating) and worked my way out of the boat. Although the varnish allows for a few minutes of working time before it sets up, you don't want to revisit a section once you've left it. Working from the inside out, you leave yourself an escape route, and you don't have to worry about leaning your elbow in the tacky section you just varnished. The key to applying varnish, says my old man, is you need to generously smoosh it into the nooks and crannies with your brush, and then even out the coat with long, overlapping strokes.