For bigger jobs involving chipped and/or cracked Gelcoat:
To do it right you’ll need to grind off the Gelcoat out to the cracks. That will seem scary because your going to make the repair area bigger, but it has to be done. If you see cracks in the underlying composite material (e.g. fiberglass etc.) or the area feels soft you will also need to reinforce the inside with a patch of fiberglass before patching the Gelcoat, but that is another subject (see our Tips blog on "Fiberglass Repair").
I use a Dremel Tool with a 1” – 2” abrasive disk to remove gelcoat like that. With a steady hand you’ll be able to remove the gel-coat without touching the cloth underneath. It’s easier than it sounds. Gelcoat is somewhat thick so it is possible to patch the whole area at once but usually you’ll end up needing to do two or more layers to get it all smooth and fair. What I do for damage that goes around the keel like this is tape a piece of wax paper to one side adjacent to the damage, apply the Gelcoat with a Popsicle stick, then wrap the wax paper over the keel to hold the Gelcoat in place and keep air from contacting it and tape the wax paper down on the other side of the keel. If the wax paper makes good contact with the Gelcoat you won’t need to add the wax (“Surface Curing Agent”) to the Gelcoat because the wax paper will be a barrier keeping air off while it cures (so it will cure hard not tacky). When cured, sand the excess Gelcoat even with the undamaged gelcoat and evaluate if you need to do another application. Usually there will be dimples or bubles in your first layer that you’ll want to fill in with another application of Gelcoat.
For more details see on working with Gelcoat and supplies needed also see our Tips blog on repairing a "Scratch In Gelcoat".
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