Bottle after bottle of boat wax and fiberglass polish lines the shelves of marine supply stores—so how are you supposed to know which shines the best? Just about every manufacturer says their product will give you more shine, so it’s hard to pick a winner without years of trying different products. And different products can have different strong points; some protect better or last longer, while others give you the best initial look yet fade more quickly. So, what should you use?

Boat polish from Re-Structure Marine seems to have significantly more shine than the regular old wax.

Boat polish from Re-Structure Marine, applied to the engine shown on the left, seems to have significantly more shine than the regular old wax (shown here on the right).

To find out what shines the brightest, I tried a high-quality boat wax, 3M Ultra Performance Paste Wax, versus Re-Structure Marine Polish. Each product was applied to one half of my boat, with micro-fiber cloths. The difference was most obvious in the outboard’s finish, so that’s where I took these pictures.

As you can see from the reflections, the port-side picture shows significantly more shine. That’s the side that got the Re-Structure Marine Polish. It's also the side that gets the most sun when the boat is parked, (you can see the decals have faded a bit) and usually, it doesn't look as shiny in the first place. So, how did Re-Structure get that mirror-like look? This stuff contains an ingredient called RALG, which Re-Structure says was created via nanotechnology. Allegedly, its minuscule particles bond with the surface it’s applied to, to form a shiny and protective coating. Whatever this goop consists of, it sure did the trick—that half of my boat came through spring cleaning gleaming like a precious gem.

What about the side that got the wax? As you can see, it had a good shine, too. I’ve used 3M Performance wax in the past, and this is high-quality stuff. If you have hours to spare and can give your boat a complete five-step top-to-bottom beauty treatment, it's a good product to use for the base-coat of wax. And I know the 3M will protect the finish for at least a month of heavy use in salty waters.

Until I've used the boat for a while, I won’t know if the RALG will provide as protective a layer, or if it will last as long as the wax. For the moment the polish is the winner, because that shine simply can’t be beat. But stay tuned. After a few chumming trips involving fish blood, grimy road trips, salty spray, and multiple scrub-downs, I’ll report back on the long-term effects.

-Lenny Rudow