The answers you get are, like mine going to be opinions, although opinions are like private parts, everybody's got em and everybody elses stinks.
The final choice of course is up to you, but here are a few facts to consider.
>A good job of masking is a bit of an artform, and when you watch an artist tape off a speed line or such you will gain a new appreciation for your own ham handedness.
>Masking tape, must be removed relatively soon after it is applied. If this is a long term project, and especially if it is exposed to sunlight the difficulty in removing the tape with ALL it's adhesive grows exponentially with time. If you've ever left masking tape in the sun for a few weeks you will know what I mean.
>If you mask use the best quality tape you can find. (Try an auto body supply.) Cheap masking tape is never a bargain.
>No matter how carefull you are with the taping there will always be some bleed through of the finish (varnish-oil-etc.) along the edge, so that crisp edge between gelcoat and trim won't be quite as crisp.
>If the wood trim requires sanding or scraping, the chances of doing that without maring the adjacent gelcoat are slim to none, although a double layer of wide tape will go a long way to protect the finish.
>If any of the trim is exterior there is the likelyhood that it will need to be re-sealed anyways, so removal is the only alternative there.
> If you remove the trim, make a PERMANENT record of where and in what orientation it goes. Scrape a portion of the back of the piece and write on it what it is and which way is up, ie. Port - aft - lazarette with an arrow pointing up. Don't use permanent marker, it will bleed and blur with any finish you apply, a soft pencil works well.
> If the trim is screwed on, and unless the screws are all the same you will do well to keep track of all the screws and where they go. I usually lay them about 1/4 inch apart, side by side like little soldiers on a strip of masking
tape, stickyside up, then stick another piece on top and press together so that the screws are captured between the tapes with thier cute little heads sticking out. I write the details of where they go without using a code or shorthand that I won't be able to decipher in a day or so. You could use a multi compartment container, like one of those plastic sewing boxes or a muffin tin if you KNOW you will not knock it over.
> If wood plugs are used, these are pretty much one time use so either buy a plug cutter and make some new ones or buy plugs from your chandler. They don't HAVE to be the same as the wood trim unless that's important to you. If you have plugs and need some opinions on how to deal with them post the question and I or someone else will surely reply.
> If your gelcoat needs TLC as you state, it is WAY easier to do this with the trim removed. The polishes and cleaners for gelcoat and the oxides they remove will get into the grain of the brightwork and dry white and ugly, and be really hard to remove
>If you plan to paint the fiberglass this too is WAY easier with the trim removed.
>If you remove the trim you can set up some form of drying rack in any spare space you have indoors, and refinish it all at once, kind of production line like. (Hello Henry Ford)
>On the other hand if you remove the trim and the twists and turns of life mean that you may not get around to replacing it better leave it on. I know what I am like!
>If you remove the trim, and it requires much sanding, and flush flat or oval head screws are used as in many production boats, you would do well to deepen the countersink the same amount as you removed so the screws don't fit up proud. These will catch just about any fabric that passes over them and it doesn't look very ship shape.
> When reinstalling trim strips, or for that matter anything that has a number of fasteners, the technique is to start all the screws, then go back and turn them home, starting at the middle and working towards the outer edges. If you turn them tight as you put them in you will often find that the last holes dont line up very well, and if the trim is thin it will often bulge and pucker between the fasteners.
This is important...
>>>Hand skills are not inate, they are learned. The only way to be good at working with this kind of thing is to do it. Doing something like this and seeing the result is one of the best self esteem tonics available, and never forget, that only a true egotist is ever COMPLETELY satisfied with the results of his handiwork. The finest craftsman will always see places in his workmanship where he knows he might have done a little better. No one else will.<<<
I know these are all opinions which you may or may not agree with (that is a good thing) but IMHO if it's worth doing, it's worth doing the best you can, since you or sombody after you is going to have to look at it a lot.
Hope this helped
Give generously, Epoxy CAN be cured.