Marine G


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Working with gel coat is a lot like working with fiberglass resin. In fact that's pretty much what it is, is just tinted resin. If you have never worked with fiberglass resin before, think about it as a thick paint that you have to add an activator/hardener to in order to get it to cure.

Now with gel coat, if you are trying to fill a crack, what you need to do is either thicken up the gel coat with a product called cabosil if you are working with raw gel coat. Or, just get a patch kit, something like this in this link below; 

Which is pretty much pre-thickened gel coat.

When filling cracks, what you do is grind out the crack a bit with a small dremel tool. Clean it with acetone. And you build up the gel coat in layers, and once it has cured, sand it flush, buff it, and wax it. There are also 2 types of gel coat, gel coat with wax, and wax free. The reason why is standard gel coat will not fully dry in air, it has to be covered. It will get firm, but it will not fully cure, and will always be sticky. To get around that they make gel coat with wax in it, and the wax rises to the surfaces as it cures, to block out the air.

If you are going to do this yourself it is important to know if your working with wax free gel coat, or gel coat with wax in it. In most cases to fill a crack it takes 2 or 3 layers of gel coat. If you are working with waxed gel coat you would have to sand in between coats in order to knock off the wax. If you are using wax free gel coat, you can layer 1 coat on top of the next. But after the last coat, you must cover it either with saran wrap. Or, what they call PVA, which is a poly vinyl coating that drys like saran wrap.

It's pretty involved when working with the raw materials. The patch kits that are sold at west marine take a lot of the techie stuff out of it. There is definitely a learning curve to working with the material.
You can just leave it. It won't hurt anything. But if you want to fix it then your going to have no choice but to do a gel coat patch. Do you need a primer on how to work with gel coat? Have you ever worked with fiberglass or epoxy resins before?
Have you ever worked with Gelcoat before? It's tricky stuff to work with. Also, what is the color of the boat. Is it just white, or another color?
On this ding, is it through the fiberglass, an actual hole or puncture? Or is it just on the surface? Also, are you sure it's paint, as 95% of fiberglass boats are gel coat finished, and not paint.
The above information is good - I would also add the following to help get the best possible price.

- Don't buy insurance you don't need - i.e., be very specific about getting the insurance that is right for you boat. Most cariers have a dozen or so different kinds of boat insurance (powerboat, sailboat, houseboat, fishing boat, etc.). Make sure you're getting the one that is specific to your boat and its use.

- Just like having a home security system can lower your house insurance, some insurance companies will discount the premium if you have certain safety equipement - tell the agent about any safety equipment or gadgets you have installed - it could help.

- Take a boating class. Taking a boating class could save you as much as 5% with some companies. Check with the agent and see which classes may qualify and for how much - this kind of savings over a couple of years could be significant.

- If you are willing to have you boat out of the water for some of the year, some insurers will cut your premium for the period of time your boat is not being used.
Basically, when you're pulling your boat to and from the lake it's covered by your auto policy, which is good news - the bad news is that it is covered only by your auto policy which may have very limited coverage as compared to your boat policy for loss of life, bodily injury or property damage.

When it's parked on your property your homeowners policy may provide some coverage if it is stolen or damaged but probably won't cover things stolen out of the boat or vandalism.

The best way to provide additional coverage on a boat out of water (and probably a boat in the water as well) is to get an umbrella policy - these are pretty cheap - mine is less than $200/year - and come on top of your home owners or auto policy when those limits are reached.
There are good brands of batteries and cheaper one. What I install in customers boats are Interstate marine batteries, and they are considered to be one of the best brands out there. Interstate batteries, as long as they are taken care of and have their water level checked once every 6 or 8 months (and topped off as needed) will last 3 or 4 years in the marine enviorment. (that's in Florida they last 3 or 4 years).

Now that's if you actually take care of them. If you make sure the water level is higher, if you make sure your keeping corrosion off of the terminals, 3 to 4 years is what you get.

If you use cheap brands of batteries. Batteries you get at Walmart, or the auto parts store brand name battery. Those will typically last 2 years at best, and that's if you take care of them. If you don't take care of them, I have seen batteries only go a season and they are done, they just will not take a charge.

They key difference between a marine battery and a car battery is the lead plates inside of the battery are structurally stronger, and the battery is designed to take a beating. Cars have suspensions to dampen the roads, boats do not, and those batteries feel every bump and smash of a wake in a boat, which would not happen in a car.

That's really about it. If you want a good battery, Interstate is what I use and recommend. Maintenance free batteries do not last as long as the batteries you do and can add water to. Adding water to batteries has an inherent danger to it if you are not used to working with batteries, as there is high strength sulfuric acid in the battery. But they do last longer in the long run.
Are you using marine specific batteries, or car batteries in a boat?
Also, where abouts do you live, as your local temps play a lot in battery life. For example, I am originally from Massachusettes, but now live in SW Florida. Batteries last twice as long up north because its not so hot every day.