sunfish questions

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by albert01, May 31, 2009.

  1. albert01

    albert01 New Member

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    I'm a 49 years old beginner sailor [​IMG] and I'm looking for a safe and hard to capsize single handed dinghy to learn basic sailing skills in it.
    I want a boat v
    ery stable and forgiving,that so even when making inevitable "beginner mistakes" :rolleyes: you will not easily end up in the water

    Does Sunfish fit my requirements? [​IMG]

    How resistant to capsize is it ? :eek:
     
  2. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    Your criteria don't match Sunfish sailing. But the Sunfish is an excellent boat to learn how to sail. Tens of thousands of people have done just that.
    One of the things beginners should practice is a capsize drill in shallow water. Learning how to comfortably recover is easy, assuming some guidance is available. If the water is too cold where you intend to sail, a wetsuit is recommended.

    Non-capsizing single-handed boats do exist (think of para Olympics). They probably have a keel and don't come cheap AFAIK; perhaps others can come up with some examples.
     
  3. btsunfish

    btsunfish New Member

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    The Sunfish would probably be one of your better bets. It has a fair beam, so capsize would be fairly difficult. I did look up some numbers in terms of beam to LOA (width to length) off a Laserperfromance promo sheet. A higher number is longer and thinner, a lower number is shorter and wider.
    Sunfish: LOA 13.9 ft beam 4.1 ft ratio 3.4:1
    Laser: 13.1, 4.2 ratio 3.1:1
    Optimist: 7.7, 3.7 ratio 2:1
    As you can see, the Optimist would probably be the most capsize resistant, as it is almost half as wide as it is long. However, you would look very silly in an Optimist as it is specifically marketed to juniors and has a capacity of 75-100 lb. The Laser seems to be the next best choice, but the Laser is a much more complicated boat that can moev very quickly. It also has a high aspect ratio sail and carries an extra square foot of sail compared to the Sunfish. Although the extra sail is not incredibly important, the efficient sail can really get a Laser moving. Lastly, the Laser is a much more expensive boat, even used, as it wasn't manufactured in the quantities that the Sunfish was. The Sunfish is cheap and simple, and anyone can learn to sail it fairly quickly.
    Or, you can disregard all of the above information and perhaps reconsider capsizing. Chances are, even if you don't capsize, you will get wet on almost any dinghy. In my opinion, you should just stick with the Sunfish.
    Best Regards,
    Brian
     
  4. Art

    Art New Member

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    I also am a beginner sailer 47 years old, got my first boat one year ago. I think the sunfish if a good choice since it is so easy to set up and sail. It is a good idea to turn it over than right it in shallow water a few times for practice , cause if you do like me you may go swimming;) .I like my sunfish it is a good fun inexpensive boat
     
  5. papayamon2

    papayamon2 Member

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    Something like a Sea Snark might fit the bill a little better if going in the drink is really that unappealing. Think of a bathtub with a sail, and you've pretty much got it--slow but stable. On the other hand, if you learn to sail on a Sunfish, you'll find that capsizing isn't that horrible and will ultimately be able to hone your sailing skills to a higher degree than with a Snark.
     
  6. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    You can flip a Sunfish, but it is much more stable than the rest of the dinghies out there.

    I think it is an ideal platform to learn on. Small boats make the sailor. Sailors who jump up into big boats never nail down the skills they need. Big boats are more forgiving, that doesn't mean you don't need to nail down your skills on smaller boats first.

    Show me a man, or woman, who never sailed a dinghy, and I'll show you a sailor with huge holes in their knowledge.

    Go for the Sunfish. You will love it, and it will make you good.

    BTW, I have a friend who is 72 and sails these often.
     
  7. minifish

    minifish New Member

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    Sorry to say but dinghies and capsizing are sort of hand in hand.

    If you have a sunfish and start in light winds, you're pretty safe. And a sunfish is a heck of a lot of fun in heavier winds when you get better.
    Lasers, from what I understand and have observed, are more tippy than a sunfish.
     
  8. JSDouglas

    JSDouglas New Member

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    I guess I'm the only person who thinks pushing the sunfish to its limits and getting wet are a blast!:D
     
  9. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    Definitely....

     
  10. minifish

    minifish New Member

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    Yes, you are. :confused: :rolleyes: :p
     
  11. Memnar

    Memnar Member

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    Nope - I feel the same way...I had a blast last September when it blew so hard only a few windsurfers and myself were out there..it was even too windy for the catamaran's....wayyyyy funnnn!!!

    -Erik
     
  12. Webfoot

    Webfoot New Member

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    Go ahead, tip the Sunfish over a few times. Once you learn how easy it is to do a recovery any fear of tipping over will be gone. By the way, you're going to get wet, that's why it's called a 'Wet Bottom Sailor." Try tipping over a Canoe or Kayak some time, you'll find the self rescue may be impossible. So for the Sunfish I say, easy over, easy up. And yes, when it's hot I like to cool off by tipping over.

    Don't go putting all you're weight on the centerboard or stand on it. I will take a minute for the sail to dump water and the boat to right itself, steady as she goes.

    Don't turtle in shallow water, getting the mast stuck in the mud may require assistance and result in a bent Gaff, like the Gaff I got with my free boat. It's on my fix-it list.

    Always a wear life Jacket. . . Always!

    I think you need someone the weighs at least 100 lbs to pull on the centerboard, tie some empty milk jugs to the mast if you're not sure.

    Don't take the wife on your first adventures, you've heard the phrase, 'Mad as a wet hen?'. :mad:
     
  13. arsnowe

    arsnowe New Member

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    I have a Snark Sunflower which I love (years ago also had a Sunfish that was great). My main crteria for buying the Snark was I could cartop it myself at only 50-60pounds. However,the 50# is also a drawback in that the boat is very tippy which is okay, but when the wind gets above 10-12 knots it's really getting too strong for the boat. I had the Snark out in 20 plus knot winds on a lake last summer, and it was very hard to control and tack (I was a damn fool for going out in that wind and of course capsized). Someone pointed out the daggerboard and rudder are too small for the bigger breeze and really couldn't hold a course;
    I was just getting blown sideways like there was no daggerboard at all.
    Does anyone have a good method for singlehandedly cartopping a sunfish (other than steroids). I think I've seen rollers on the back of the roof/roofrack. Or is it just foregone that for one person sailing a Sunfish it's best to trailer.
    I'm 55 so lifting the Snark is okay, but the Sunfish is a no way.

    Thanks,
    Ed
     
  14. Webfoot

    Webfoot New Member

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    The Sunflower was one of the better foam boats. Boy Scout camp was all Sunflower's and one SF. Was sailing the SF last week in high winds, watched a Sunflower leave the dock, came back to the dock and tied up 5 minutes later.;)

    I'd go with a trailer, used ones are cheep and be had for $150. Build a rack for it and you can put the SF on the bottom and the Sunflower on the trailer rack. Also saves storage space. Sort of makes things easy to hook up and go when the kids come over. A few bungee cords and you could also get a couple plastic Kayaks lashed on also.
     
  15. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    I have a similar problem. It seems it takes two to manage a Sunfish. For a solo sailor, a trailer seems to be the way to go. It is far better to have a buddy with a Sunfish and sail together. With two people, the boats unload fast, rig fast, and off you go. It seems the most time consuming thing is finding a place to park.

    One friend of mine put his boat on a simple mooring made from a concrete block, a short length of chain and some three-strand line. A 50 lb barbell weight would work even better.

    While dry sailing is preferred, leaving it on a mooring makes sailing easy for one person to use. My friend would bring his rig from home on a Thule rack when he wanted to go sailing--it was easy to carry the whole rig to the boat. Step the mast, hoist the sail, and drop the mooring line. If you think about it, there are lots of places that are too shallow, say 18" at low tide, for other boats to go, so that means all these places are suitable for leaving a Sunfish for a few weeks or a month.

    I would think you could clean the bottom relatively easily if you kept up with it. Cleaning a Sunfish bottom can be done in the water without diving gear! Leaving the drain open would prevent it from filling up. There is something to be said for mooring a Sunfish.
     
  16. Fred P

    Fred P Member

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    Everybody seems to want the ideal boat that never capsizes and forgives all your mistakes. The answer is: learn how to not make mistakes! I have not capsized in many moons after I learned how to react to the wind and how to read the water. If you don't know that, you will capsize no matter what. A Sunfish is so easy to right and fairly hard to capsize so that's the one to consider. There is no ideal boat!!!

    Fred
     
  17. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    I disagree, if you are not capsizing a Sunfish, you are not having fun! I like sailing a Sunfish on the edge of control in heavy winds--that is a blast! Although I do enjoy sailing on calm days it is nice for exploring. I agree it is better not to make mistakes!
     
  18. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    Well said !

    Look through the annals of large boat sailors..., America's Cup, VOR, etc. and you'll find many of them sail dinghies to hone their skills in a more responsive boat.

    Becoming a competent sailor doesn't take much more than practicing the basics.
     

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