After my struggles with the combing I sanded back the deck and used a reddish timber stain to reduce the contrast between the Gaboon ply and Hoop Pine gunnel. As I had hoped it has also masked some of the imperfections in the deck around the combing and looks pretty good I think. Might not win best in show but I'm hoping the canoe will get used and knocked about not put on display.
Now for the magic. Poylurethane Aquacote. This was left over from my boat build at a time when I thought varnish was an appropriate finish for a wooden boat. After living with my varnished thwarts for 5 years now I think the varnish is a pain to maintain. But, by special request, this canoe will have a varnished deck. Aquacote requires approx 40 drops of additive per 100ml of paint before you roll it on. I'm not sure what it does but any leftovers can be poured back into and therefore contaminating the paint without it spoiling or hardening. I have no idea how it works but it amazes me every time I use it.