Those of my avid readers who are of a similar, or perhaps older, age than yours truly may remember a Buddy Holly record, which he recorded in Clovis New Mexico in 1957. Believe it or not it featured drummer Jerry Allison pounding out the beat on a cardboard box! The song was covered by the Rolling Stones in 1964 and was a major hit in the UK. No cardboard box this time instead it had a strong Bo Diddley beat. Other artists who have also covered the song include Rush & Tanya Tucker! The Grateful Dead to the best of my knowledge didn’t record it they however first played Not Fade Away on June 19th 1968 and subsequently performed it more than 600 times before the group disbanded.
Not Fade Away is the title of a book by John Gribbin about the life and music of Buddy Holly, its also the title of a book by Alan Heek, its subject matter is staying happy when you’re over 64! "Wonder if it will keep the over seventies happy" I hear Jenny say. Having said that I was happy with the way that the old RS400 I bought the other week (to help me regain my youth), scrubbed up!
Buy a new yacht or powerboat with a gelcoat in a majestic dark blue, racey red, carbon black or even British Racing Green and yes it will look superb in the showroom or straight out of the box. However, five, ten, fifteen or maybe twenty years down the line will it still look as 'smart' as a white hull which has also not been polished on a regular basis? The Mystery 35 with classic lines drawn by Stephen Jones, was originally built by Hunter Boats, then Select and finally Cornish Crabber, and has, with only two exceptions, been moulded with a dark blue gelcoat. In that colour they do look superb but as mine and Jen’s end game, once we had finished fitting her out, was to keep Hindsight in sunny climates I was that second person to break the mould and go for a light colour; pale grey with a red waterline band painted in two pack polyurethane (two pack paint in bright colours tend to retain their colour much better). When I was a boy I can still remember my father regularly polishing his Morris Oxford and his next car a Riley 4/68. However these days it's rare to see people washing their cars on the front drive, never mind polishing them, perhaps that’s why an awful lot of folks (not our readers I hasten to add) don’t polish their boats on a regular basis! Unlike the paint finish on a car, a gelcoat finish does need regular attention to keep it looking smart and, more importantly, protecting the resale value. At least once a year you should give it a treat and use a good quality polish to maintain its looks, my preference is Meguiar’s Premium Marine Wax. If there is a little light oxidation, the surface is slightly ‘chalky’ (run your finger over the surface and it comes away with a deposit on it) their Color Restorer is the one to use followed by at least one coat, preferably two applications of the Premium Wax. Meguiar’s Oxidation Remover is a heavy duty cleaner which safely removes moderate oxidation, waterspots and scratches from gelcoat surfaces. It restores colour adding brilliant shine and gloss, once again finish off with the Premium Marine Wax polish to lock the colour and gloss in.
My recently acquired old RS400 was given the ‘oxidation’ treatment followed by the polish. If the gelcoat is as bad as the Beneteau pictured above it may well come up looking better if first you rub it down with something like 800 grit wet and dry then, as 3M suggest, finish sanding with 1500-grit as its easier to buff out a fine grit scratch. When wet sanding by hand, soak the abrasive paper in a bucket, if using a machine you can wet the surface using an old household spray bottle but add a couple of drops of washing up liquid to the water to keep the gelcoat surface and the grit lubricated. Beware of corners and the edge of the topsides as gelcoat is often thinnest there. Once you have an even matt surface, follow it up with Meguiar's colour restorer and then polish. If you have a coloured gelcoat such as dark blue, red etc and keep your boat in a sunny place, there is much to be said for purchasing a sun shade to protect the gelcoat, its initial outlay is soon offset by the protection it gives against fading!
Gelcoat staining as a result of the boat being used on waters that have a high concentration of peat such as Kielder water or Loch Lomond or berthed/used on a river that is discoloured can, with a very little elbow grease, ‘change colour.’ By using an excellent stain remover called Y10. This product is an oxalic acid based paste that you brush on, leave for 10 minutes and wash off. The effect is dramatic as can be seen when it's been applied to the bows of this classic Contessa 32.
Finally, if you want to take the easy route, why not consider buying a dual action polisher like the Shurhold, a professional grade machine designed for the novice! Not cheap, however I bought mine some 10 years ago and it's still going strong. It has helped keep both my previous yacht, the Channel 31, and my current boat free from the ravages of the Canarian/Greek sun! If you don't want to purchase outright a good quality polisher, perhaps check out your local hire shop, with polishers speed isn’t everything so using a high speed electric drill and polishing pad is an invitation to possible gel coat damage!