Is that a gel coat on my old 'glass eddyline?

Knowing nothing about fiberglass boats, I need to ask, does my newly acquired but vintage 1996 Eddyline Raven have a gel coat on the outside? Is that standard? Assuming it’s original, of course, which the topside clearly is since it’s an Eddyline paint scheme, and the side hull decals are intact. I’m trying to figure out which method I’ll use to (try to) polish it up a little.

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I don’t know why anyone would put gel coat on an ABS thermoplastic boat, but maybe it’s a oomposite that they used for a test boat before they made the molds for the thermal boats. It should be obvious if it is composite.

I would call Eddyline and ask them about the boat. Personally I think the Raven was about the best design that Eddyline ever came up with. I never heard why they quit making them., or maybe I did , but have forgotten why.

I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. It’s a fiberglass boat. I just don’t know enough about fiberglass to assume that it’s a gel coat. Is that standard?

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Fiberglass boats have a gel coat over the glass structure to act as a protective/sacrificial layer. Also will see that in a mix of fiberglass and kevlar from that era. The thickness of it will vary based on manufacturer. The reason older NDK boats were so heavy is that they used a pretty thick layer of gel coat.

It appears that Eddyline went to thermoform for the Raven in their 2000 model. From reading the specs it appears to be a great day boat, was breaking the mold from the trackers that most North American manufacturers were still heavily focused on. Good score!

BTW, my father built a motor boat in our garage when I was in my early teens - that is he finished it in the garage. After my mother kicked the boat out of our dining room once the ribs were done. He used more sheets of glass than were called for in the kit, could have broken a dock piling with it, but what went on after that was a skim coat of something over the glass sheets. Again, to act as a layer that could take some scrapes,

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What you use depends on how bad the condition is on the gel coat. Could go from cleaner wax to wet sanding.

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Eddyline made at least 12 models in fiberglass or kevlar before they went to Carbonlite.

Thanks so much for the info, Celia. And the story about your dad is a hoot!

Now on to bringing my slightly faded lady Raven back to life.

Yes. There are plenty of products for shining up gel coat.
The Raven is my favorite Eddyline kayak. Plenty of rocker.

First thing is to take a flashlight to the inside of the boat. If there are dark spots, the boat may not be viable.

Most dark spot is because a scratch has made it through the gel coat and is causing it to delaminate. Most commercial boats at that time were held together with polyurethane resin, which is not really waterproof. There was a transition at about that time to polyvinyl, which is closer to waterproof, but not entirely.

Check for any soft spots corresponding to dark spot, if they are bad, the boat might come apart on you.

If you find a deep scratch make sure it is completely dry before adding anything like Captain Tolley’s. Retained moisture can cause continued delamination.

Painting it with a poly paint might be the easy way out because the gel-coat could be only millimeters thick and sanding out scratches might do more harm than good.

It is almost certainly gel coat. Although some boats will use a tinted resin skin coat to save weight since polyester gel coat does add a significant amount of weight.

A plain, un-tinted fiberglass boat with no gel coat would actually be pretty ugly.

I would start by giving the hull a good cleaning using something like Simple Green. Gel coat that is heavily oxidized can safely be wet sanded using fine grit wet or dry paper. If you need to do this I would start with something like 400 or 600 grit. The sanding marks can be removed by using progressively finer grits down to 1500 or 2000. I have had to sand the gel coat off of multiple boats down to the structural fabric to apply exterior patches over cracks and it actually takes a good bit of work. You are very unlikely to go through the gel coat layer accidentally if you stick to paper with a grit of 400 or less.

I have had pretty good results using 3M Finesse-It II glaze and an automotive buffer with a soft bonnet. Flood Penetrol is a conditioning agent for oil based paints and can also be applied to worn gel coat to improve the appearance, although the cosmetic improvement will not be as durable.


I had already fixed a few scratches on the bottom hull with this marine epoxy repair before I realized there was such as thing as a gel coat repair kit. Not sure how my epoxy repairs will compare to the gel coat once that’s polished up. But it’s on the bottom of the hull, so I’m not going to sweat it.

And yes, I am liking the boat, though 17’ may prove to be too unwieldy for me to schlep around in the long run. We’ll see.

Thanks all for the feedback/advice.


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First let me clarify a couple of things. The types of resins used in most fiberglass boats are polyester and vinylester. Gelcoat is Essentially tinted polyester resin.

There are two types of gelcoat,laminating and finish. Laminating gelcoat will not cure in the presence of air and is typically used in molds when building the boat initially. If used for a repair, it must be covered by an airtight barrier, with Mylar or heavy polyethylene sheet being the most common materials used. Finish gelcoat contains a wax additive that migrates to the surface to create an air barrier and it can be used for repairs without covering it.

If you want to see what’s possible as far as restoring the shine, I have a tutorial on the topic here:

Just be aware that the gelcoat on your Eddyline is probably quite thin (to save weight), so you can’t be as aggressive with the sanding as I was.

You may also want to check out my turtorial on gelcoat repair: