Many manufacturers offer buffers that are suitable for fiberglass boat repair. For small repairs, you may not need one at all. For large repairs, though, your shoulders, elbows, and wrists will appreciate a power tool!
These tools come in two major types.
The first type is a high speed model. The tool rotates at speeds up to 2800 rpm. In the wrong hands, this tool can ruin the finish on a boat or car - quickly! However, with some care and finesse, it can produce ASTOUNDING results. The key to using a high speed polisher is to start with a slow speed and KEEP IT MOVING. Be patient. Don't get in a hurry or be tempted to concentrate on a small area. Use high grit compound if needed and then progress to a quality boat wax (after a wipe down).
These tools can be found for less than $50 for basic models, but I recommend making sure that the one you choose is variable speed -preferably with a "slow-start" feature. These features will cost about $150.
The second type of buffer is the orbital. They are mostly intended for waxing cars and boats. They are pretty good at that, but are of limited use with rubbing compounds. If you already have one of these, you can try it out. Definitely don't go buy one for a fiberglass repair project!
If you don't have a high speed polisher, a suitable alternative is an attachment for an electric drill. I've used these for jobs, both large and small with good success. It just takes a LONG time! After some study, I've found that the high priced replacement bonnets for these attachments makes it attractive to go ahead and purchase a high speed tool if you have a medium to large job ahead of you.