I'll prolly get flamed for this but........here's what I did. My project was a '85 HC 18. I started with color restorers, then HD compound w/o the results I was looking for. After doing a little net surfing I learned of a product called VertGlas. I bought their kit. The kit comes with a white, light duty scotch brite pad to use with their hull cleaner. Still this was not aggressive enough for my satisfaction so I went to the Home D*pot and bought different grades of synthetic steel wool. I used these on a B&D mouse sander along with std brown rubbing compound. Do a small section at a time and be careful about washing the compound off with that electric sander close by. (bucket and sponge work fine) Now we were shining! After about 5 baths using the VertGlas supplied wash, I started applying the VertGlas sealer. I takes many coats to do it right because it goes on like water and dries about as quick but it looks very good. Hopefully this product will last like they say. Did the whole job with less than a pint and have some left for touchup if needed.
In retrospect, I think I could have saved a lot of labor and time by starting out with say 800 grit wet sanding and progressing to 1000 then 1200 before going to rubbing compound. Based on the thickness of the gelcoat on the lower bow where I had to make some resin repairs, the sanding would have been easier. Probably someone more knowledgeable can comment on the gelcoat thickness.
Others thoughts? Let the flames begin.