Gel coat repairs (composite boats)
The coloured (often a shade of white or light grey on the hull) outer layer on a composite boat is called gel coat. It protects the structure (see more in the section about structural damage) from abrasion, water intrusion and UV degradation.
Superficial scratches in the gel coat add to the character of your boat and are nothing to worry about. However, if, after cleaning, the scratch has a dark bottom, indicating that it goes all the way down or even into the fibreglass, it should be touched up.
Chips or chunks missing in the gel coat that expose the fibreglass need to be filled to avoid future degradation of the boat.
Spots that are worn down and expose the fabric, most often at the bow and stern keel line but also in the cockpit area, need to be built up again.
Spider cracks, also known as hairline fractures, can happen when the fabric structure flexes more under a considerable and localized impact than the more rigid gel coat. Since water can seep into the tiny gaps and damage the boat over time, they should be taken care of.
If you know that you are really, really hard on your boat and want to add some additional protection you could consider a partial or full keel strip in the high wear areas. We add an additional layer of fibreglass and gel coat to give plenty of material for you to shave down. Please be aware that this would add several pounds to the weight of your boat.