how long will a sunfish last on open ocean?

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by sailfish30, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. sailfish30

    sailfish30 New Member

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    I just recently got a Sunfish for my birthday/christmas present and I have got quite ambitous with it and my boom snapped!!!! It was because of salt build-up inside the goose-neck I have added my own personal touch to the boat (pillow so I can sit,ships,root beer,and I am in the proccess of waxing the hull as we speak.one of my main questions was how long would I survive in the open ocean????? I have been sailing for 2-3 years now and I am getting pretty crafty with the tiller extenstion,hiking,and reaching. So its up to you more experienced SF sailors to decide How long would I last????
     
  2. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    What do you mean by “open ocean”? That usually implies beyond sight of land … way beyond. You planning to join the Keys to Havana race or are you thinking San Francisco to Hawaii?

    Just a bay


    Some days look like this
     
  3. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    You can answer that question yourself. How long can you stay awake? How much food and water can you bring? etc...
     
  4. Zeppo

    Zeppo Member

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    I would imagine using the heads could be an exercise in agility. I would think that with the right combination of hallucenogenic drugs it could be quite stimulating, at least in the short term. Would you have running lights, VHF radio, flares, life ring, charts, GPS, food, etc.?
     
  5. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    A little salt and a little pepper..., sea creatures like just a hint of spice to their food.
     
  6. Memnar

    Memnar Member

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    Exactly 42.3 days - then you would die. Any other questions?

    -Erik
     
  7. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    A Sunfish will last a long time (a hundred years?) in the open ocean (until it gets washed up on shore some place), BUT the sailor won't... :eek:
     
  8. Bearadise

    Bearadise LifeLong Newbie

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    THAT's what I was thinking!
     
  9. sailfish30

    sailfish30 New Member

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    I acctualy am in a small shallow bay named Waquoit Bay right in falmouth and from the spit you can see marthas vineyard. I was wonderind if I could sail there without dying.
     
  10. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    I don't see why not. A protected bay is just the sort of water the Sunfish was intended for.

    As always, be aware of the immediate weather forecast, the upcoming weather, and local isolated developments. I say this because on a shallow bay, storm winds can churn up choppy waters quicker than the waters outside the spit will change. And become familiar with the tidal current's times of movement and speed.

    Are there any small boat sailing clubs or sailboat shops in the vicinity? Check with them for recommendations on where to sail and information on what you should expect from the tidal activity.

    I gather you are just starting out sailing. If my speculation is true, see if there's a club that offers small boat sailing classes. Lessons are very worthwhile to begin you developing your skills.
     
  11. sailfish30

    sailfish30 New Member

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    I did just start sailing in 06 with optis and they bored me. then I got the sunfish and I began to love it. I have had some experience on choppy waters but that was when my lower spar broke. I have not considered lessons and there arent mutch aound anymore in the bay.
     
  12. billmcinnis

    billmcinnis Member

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    I’ve sailed to Martha’s Vineyard many times in cruising sailboats and also in power boats. I’ve also been in Waquoit Bay. A Sunfish doesn’t belong in either Nantucket or Vineyard Sound and my advice is to stay in Waquoit.
     
  13. Art

    Art New Member

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    Back in the early 80s I spent four years in the Coast Guard we had a saying then
    "You have to go out, but you dont have to come back". And that saying went through my mind more than once. I personaly would not go out on the ocean on a sunfish ,but thats just me . Like the guy in Jaws said "I think you need a bigger boat.":eek:
     
  14. sailfish30

    sailfish30 New Member

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    i personally now dont think ill go out but that saying "you have to go out but you dont have to come back" made one of my family friends join the coast guard.
     
  15. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    Pardon me, I must apologize for my comment. I believe I mis-read your intent. It struck me at first you just wanted to go outside the bay and sail the sound, off the beach, near shore. In re-reading the thread it appears you'd like to make the ~5 mile crossing.

    I would like to amend my earlier cavalier "why not" with more serious considerations.

    Can it be done safely on a Sunfish. I still believe so, but with the following precautions. First and foremost you need to be skilled enough to sail proficiently through all the tide, current, wind, and waves everyone has been speaking about. You need to be knowledgeable about the waters along your route. As it's been pointed out you'll be crossing two shoals. You will experience changes in wave height and current speed as you pass through these sections. Making the crossing in a larger boat with experienced crew to familiarize yourself with just where and how things change would be wise preparation. It will also be a good idea to know the landforms and lights in your landing zone from a seaside perspective, so maybe a couple of scouting passages at least... Sail over on your O'Day 28 a few times, paying particular attention to conditions that would affect a Sunfish, but are hardly noticible to the larger boat.

    Your boat needs to be in top notch shape. You already said you broke a spar due to poor upkeep and salt water infiltration of the rig. The whole boat will need to be gone over and any such weak points corrected.

    Lastly, it would be very smart to have a follow boat as your safety backup.

    ...this is in addition to the earlier mention of learning the tides and watching/knowing the weather. Plan your crossing and pick your weather and most of all, be mentally able to postpone your launch for a better day.

    Here's the beginnings of a preparation check list
    • What tidal condition will be best to launch under
    • What will the tidal window be before there's a change
    • What speed will you need to average
    • What speed does your boat travel at - at what wind speed.
    • How will you know what speed you are doing
    • What will be the ideal wind direction
    • Are you physically able to hold the mainsheet and hike out for the time it will take
    • Will conditions allow you to heave-to and rest if need be
    • Sail the length of Waquoit Bay and back, again and again for endurance practice.
    • What is the prevailing wind along the shore
    • What wind shift is to be expected as you get away from the influence of the shore
    • What winds can be expected mid-channel
    • What is the prevailing wave direction
    • What is a sailable swell height
    • How will you plot and hold your course
    • What will be the point of no return... where it's better to proceed than to turn back.
    • How will you recognize journey's mid-point
    • Will you be crossing the path of commercial boat traffic... how will they see you... (you don't show up on radar).
    • Is there NOAA weather buoy data you can start observing and tracking at home while you prepare for your crossing
     
  16. Fun Fish

    Fun Fish Member

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    I usually add the Breton Fisherman's Prayer to my preparation checklist: "Protect me O Lord, for your sea is so great and my ship is so small!"
    (Naysayers naysay away, but I'm good advertising: safe and sound after multiple bay and sound crossings in Sunfish, canoes, and kayaks!) :)
     
  17. btsunfish

    btsunfish New Member

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    There was an article on here about someone who sailed his Sunfish on a similar passage and it destroyed his boat. A Sunfish has only a few inches of freeboard, and waves of even a foot suddenly become very big and threatening when you're out on the open water. The sea has destroyed boats much larger and stronger than your Sunfish, which is composed of about 1/4" of fiberglass with some Styrofoam on the inside. Weather in coastal New England isn't extremely unpredictable, but it can be tricky at times and when we get it bad, we get it BAD. Picture you, two miles out, 30-35kt winds and 4-6 foot seas (ok, maybe my ratio of seas to wind is off.) It's not too much to a ferry captain or a big yacht, but you're in a Sunfish with a handheld VHF and a life jacket. Scary. In my opinion, 2-3 years of sailing is not enough to take this sort of thing on. And remember, just when you think you've got the ocean pinned with your skill, it throws you a curve.

    On the other hand, you CAN do serious distance sailing in a Sunfish, so long as you stay close to shore. In either the Sunfish Book or Bible, there was a photo of a man who sailed a Sunfish from Miami to Boston by staying close to shore and camping on shore overnight. It's possible to do things with the Sunfish, just remember the boat's capabilities.
     
  18. Webfoot

    Webfoot New Member

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    I think it's simply a matter of having a support boat. It will increase the fun factor because you will be stressed less. And you'll have a method of transporting a couple six packs and the dozen hot women who are attracted to a man of danger.

    Sunfish is a modified Scow Hull and subject to its limitations. That is, knowone would call a Scow Hull sea worthy. 1930's racing yachts were Scow's before the rule change and as far as I know, none were sailed in open waters to their racing destination.

    One limitation is the exact quality of the fiberglass mast tube attachment per boat is impossible to determine. You could go to mast stays but you would loose the ability to depower the sail sometimes. Another is you could easily pop a seam anywhere on the boat. Even a minor leak becomes a major problem with the passage of time.

    Ah, treat the Sunfish for how it is intended, a fun boat. Get some friends in a support boat to shadow you and have a blast. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
     

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