Scream's toe-rail was covered in cetol varnish, which is a perfectly reputable product that we used to great effect on Wai Whare, our previous boat. However, the cetol was starting to lift after years of wear and we wanted to try something else.
Some of our friends had recommended Penofin, which is an oil. The oil gives a different finish, but the real benefit is that you need to sand before adding a periodic maintenance coat of varnish, but not before a coat of oil.
We knew that cetol was tough stuff, so we enlisted the help of a paint stripper named Soy Gel. Soy Gel is non-toxic, while most of its competitors are quite toxic. So we went through the effort of ordering it off the internet. Canadian customs, thankfully, were not a problem.
We tried several techniques for applying the Soy Gel and eventually settled on a paint brush. At first we let it sit too long and it started to harden and wasn't very effective. But we eventually fell into a system of letting the Soy Gel sit for about 30 minutes before scraping. This lifted the varnish effortlessly in most places.
After scraping off the excess varnish we washed with water and then sanded with 220 grit sandpaper.
We applied the Penofin with a foam brush. After letting it sit for ten minutes we followed up with a cloth to wipe off the excess.
We did this pretty much all day Sunday and Monday.