Over the years I have had the same issue, that is trying to put a reasonable finish on wood without the constant work involved with using varnish. I have used cetol, din't like it, din't like the appearance or the fact that it was slippery under foot and became to hot in the tropics. Two years ago I tried a different mixture and so far so good.
I used 1 part boiled linseed oil, two parts turp, one pert spar varnish and one half part japan dryer.
This combo leaves a matt finish that protects the wood. This does not require a lot of attention to detail nor sanding between coats. It has only been two years since I first did the job and we'll see how it works over time. I suspect it will require a new spalsh in the spring, but it is not the time consumming effort required with using varnish.