Re: Varnish. AAAGH!
flybynight would be my hero (what an incredible mirror shine!) except, there is silver metal in his wood and that's always a bad thing. A real yachtsmen wouldn't suffer form cheap fasteners, he'd pull them before they blacken the wood, and replace them with proper bronze fittings.
Hey, sww! You know that a half hour with a chain saw, any chain saw, will solve the varnish and pilothouse problems both at once, don't you? (VBG)
Bottom line, who is going to walk the dog? Who is really going to wind up doing the maintenance, or not? That's all. Whoever is going to walk it, has to feed it and clean up after it too. So if you're going to maintain the wood, you decide the finish it gets. If someone else is going to do it, they decide. No bargaining, no negotiation.
I go for bare wood and teak oil, because I love that mirror finish but I don't get enough to spend the hours it needs to be one that way. Over and over again. There's this stuff they make now, maybe you've heard of it? Called "plastic". Has the same mirror finish and requires much less maintenance, too. ;-)