I started off this project a little early and didn't really take a lot of time to research how to do it properly. I have cut and buffed paint before but not gelcoat and nothing this dark or damaged. I'm using 1200-2000 grit paper and 3M Perfect-it for gelcoat(heavy cut). The surface has been getting very glossy. No swirl marks or spider webs. The problem is that there is a haze under the gloss if you look at it in direct light. Some of it is blotchy as seen in the close-up picture. Did I not sand all of the damage out?
My latest discovery is that most of the grit in my compound is in a ball in the bottom of the bottle. I though it was strange that this compound buffed out to a gloss. My plan is to get a full set of compounds from heavy on down and try it again.
So I cut some of the gel coat a little more and used a combination of Maguires heavy cut and 3M marine light cut and the results were ok but still swirly. The previous use of 3M perfect it turned out to be misleading since all of the grit was in the bottom of the bottle in a clump. A coworker gave me the bottle pictured. This stuff with a 3M foam finishing pad is amazing. Doesn't dry out quick and you can use a very small amount. I tried some Boat Bling Quickie wax to finish it up but it left the dark color pretty hazy. So I took that off and am using Top Coat F11. The verdict is still out on this but the surface is very slick and much darker than with wax. It doesn't stop water spots from forming but they were pretty easy to wipe off at the boat launch yesterday. There are still a few areas on the boat that could use some more work but you would only tell if you inspected it closely. I got to a point that I had to accept those and move on after spending well over 50 hours on this.
Below the rub rail I didn't do any wet sanding unless there was a deep scratch. It took a lot of machine cutting as the water spots and buildup were quite heavy. This boat was towed in the gravel, so next winter I'm planning on filling all the small chips that are toward the bow.