What we've learned:
- Hulls shine by the process of polishing their gel coats NOT the waxing. The wax protects the shine.
- Start with a rougher polish (but only as rough as you need to get results - you are removing a layer of gel coat) and then move to successively finer grained polishes. The more steps, the smoother and glassier the finish, but you can cut steps to fit your own time constraints.
- Use a spray bottle with water before applying the wax. It is amazingly easier to apply and remove if you do so.
- Waxing and polishing a hull is about sex appeal (and for some people - the peer pressure to be a "good boat owner"). Sure, the boat may go a touch faster when heeled and waxed but not fast enough to make the time worth the effort. We would be better off removing some weight. Fiberglass will last for many, many years and polishing only shines the thin coating of gel coat on top of the (in our case) very thick molded fiberglas hull. It isn't about safety or longevity, it is about aesthetics. We polish our boat because we like to see her glowing and think to ourselves "daaay-UM that is a fine looking boat".
Here is the line on our hull from compounding - note this is without wax or the 2 additional polishing steps:
- Wash with brush and IMAR Yacht Soap Concentrate very diluted.
- 3M Rubbing Compound with a shaggy wool looking bonnet
- Marine Finesse-It II Finishing Glaze with a terry cloth bonnet
- Meguiar's #09 Swirl Remover with a terry cloth bonnet
Finally, we wax with Collinite Paste Fleetwax. I mist a 2 foot long strip of hull with water, apply a thin layer of wax with a foam applicator pad (by hand) and buff off with microfiber cloths (bought in large packs at Costco and Canadian tire). I applied 3 coats to each side and 5 coats to the stern (where we get exhaust soot).