When I acquired this boat in 1962 the masts were painted. Eventually rot set into the top of the main adjacent to a fastening. The paint had done a nice job of masking it. After scarfing on a new top section I have kept it varnished, which makes it far easier to detect the onset of problems. Yes, paint lasts longer, and I don't enjoy varnishing, but it's safer and they look a lot better.
Years ago an old timer came by while I was docked in Gloucester, and chastized me for having painted masts. When I told him that I already had more maintenance than I could handle he said, "Just slush 'em down with used motor oil like we did on the fishing schooners."
When it comes to varnish, I have had the best luck with Pettit's Flagship. I stripped them and put on six coats four years ago. And as I speak, we are doing it again.
Anyone have a better idea?
What type or brand of stripper did you use to remove the old varnish? I take it that your mast is sitka spruce. Maybe not? I'll be doing mine in the next week or so. The varnish last applied was Epiphanes or however it is spelled. It was done by pros but has not lasted four years.
Oh, just for planning, about how much stripper and how much varnish might it take for about a 41' mast?