So the naval modellers best friend has to be this stuff....
Gloss Acrylic heavy gel. Apply thickly... use a paint brush, or knife to work in peaks and ripples.
I finished up my models - although I suspect I will be purchasing a few more ships.. I have already sourced some 1/1200 scale Valiant 'Spanish Main' from Noble Knight Games.
These ones still need another couple of coats of the gel. What I normally do is put down a sloppy base colour (this is the old Citadel 'Space Wolves Grey') then add a layer of gel working it into the wave formations I want. I then go back with very thinned down white to pick out the texture, matt varnish everything, then go back and add another thicker coat of gel, focusing on those areas that I have painted white.