Fiberglass restoration advice please

I recently purchased a used CD Caribou S circa 2000. She has been used, has the usual scratches and a couple small spots that someone attempted to patch the gel coat that look pretty poor. I want to attempt a fiberglass restoration on this boat and want to practice some gel coat repair on this boat rather than my ‘new’ boat. I have never worked with gel coat, but am pretty handy and not afraid to jump in to this kind of project. My question is this - in my mind I think I should strip all rigging, fittings, decals off the boat and first use a rubbing compound, polishing compound, and wax system (with an orbital polisher) to bring the oxidized gel coat back to as good as I can get it that way and THEN evaluate the other repairs. If there are still a large amount of scratches, I would go back to wet sanding and then repeat the polishing, waxing, etc. For those of you with experience here - am I foolish for trying to polish this back to as good as I can get it and then evaluating the areas I would like to repair, or would you suggest just jumping into the repairs right away and when those are complete using the compounds and polishing and waxing??

I thought about just wet sanding the whole thing right away, but maybe I will be surprised how much of the gloss comes back with the rubbing compound / polishing / waxing operation.


I’ve been using Meguiar’s "professional vinyl and rubber cleaner followed by their Natural Shine protectant, it’s much cheaper than FP303 and you might be amazed at how the boat looks using these two products for a heck of alot less work.

I’ve got an old NDK Greenlander, 1997 vintage, that looked awful when I bought it, most think it’s new now, though still has scratches, it’s certainly useable and took maybe an hour’s work.

Bill H.

how much time you want to spend vs how good you want her to look.

lots of time = lookin’ good.

structural repairs are all I ever do to a boat, tho a quick de-rig and buff/wax always makes me smile. The wetsanding and trying to remove all/most of the scratches…nope. But that’s just me. :wink:


Do repairs as needed first.
If you are still up for it on the cosmetic ones, keep going.

If not, just shine the scratches.

No sure what color it is but if you really want to go for it and even everything out you gotta take off all the rigging.

Leave the stickers on.

Always try to buff / compound first …If gelcoat is not totally “gone” 2000 grit is enough the buff.

if you compound , buff and wax it first

– Last Updated: Aug-17-10 11:20 PM EST –

...... you'll have to de-wax it and sterilize the surface before any sanding and prep. for gel or resins in the future (you should sterilize the surface anyway before sanding and prep.) ... repairs 1st ... compounds , buff and wax last .

You got to make up your mind ... if you're going to do repairs and resoration or just polish it the way it is . If repairs , go ahead and take it apart (if you are planning whole hog) , if not don't waste the time as if begining a restoration .

Compounding , buff and waxing is like a days work ... a restoration is a commitment that grows as you go and is completed one step at a time and you keep pushing on till it's finished (of which that time will reveal itself when get to the end) .

You'll get "plenty" of practice along the way


– Last Updated: Aug-18-10 4:58 AM EST –

"buff / compound" or "compound / buff" to me are one in the same in my head. When the machine is out and on, I'm "buffing" ... Guess I have done it too many times.

Never thought of it 'till right now ... for people reading this literally,,, YES Compound by hand or machine buffing > then wax.

I have instructions on gelcoat repair…
…and restoration in my Webshots albums at:

There are also albums that cover fiberglass repair, deck rigging, etc.

I agree with the others here that any structural repairs should be your first priority. Also, although my gelcoat restoration on an Anas Acuta worked well, you probably won’t be able to sand very aggressively on a CD boat since the gelcoat is much thinner. You can try compounding/buffing, but if that doesn’t work, you’ll probably either have to live with it or paint it.

great pics
Hi Brian,

I had actually checked out your site quite a bit in the past and kind of got inspired by your pictures to try a bit of this. Great job on the pics and the descriptions! I understand your point about the thinner gel coat on the CD boats. I have a P&H Capella, whose gel coat is much thicker. I may try tackling a couple of the deeper scratches and rub / polish the rest of the boat and redo the rigging. None of the scratches or chips have compromised the cloth, so that is good.

Thanks again for sharing the pics.


not sure what you are saying …

– Last Updated: Aug-19-10 12:23 PM EST –

...... compound equals the material itself , has abrasives (or not) , course to fine . Wax equals , wax .

Buff equals the method of applying , mechanical (or by hand) . Polishing (smoothing) is the objective .

For oxidation, bring back a shine.
Get a Poliglow kit. use the poly prep, then poliglow the glass. Many of my friends use it on their sailboats/powerboats and it really makes faded glass shine!! It won’t fix scratches. If the Poliglow gets scratched you can just re-apply as it dissolves itself on re-application.

Not for use for below the waterline…