1967 Sunfish - Asking advice on edge deck repair and restoration


New Member

I just acquired a 1967 sunfish. I'm hoping I can get some advice from the experienced folks.

My goal is to:

1. Get it seaworthy as soon as I can for Summer use. Doesn't need to look pretty, but does need to be safe.
2. Make a longer term plan for more in depth restoration.

The biggest issue is that there is a deck/hull repair that was indifferently done, and is not holding well. I'm not sure the best way to tackle that, but I think I will need to do something about it short term. It looks like part of the deck and hull at the edge will need to be removed - and I'm not sure the best way restore it.

- Screw holes near rudder mount from I-don't-know what.
- Smaller cracks on hull
- I'm sure it is waterlogged
- Original sail looks ok, actually - but does have a few holes in it
- Bailer replacement

Lots of great info here about making inspection ports, which I think is probably my first task. No, first task is a good bath, then ports.

Any thoughts on what else I should prioritize - and how to tackle that patch?




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New Member
I've decided I'm going to try using a heat gun to gently remove the old patch and see what it looks like underneath. Doing some research it seems this is the best way to remove fiberglass. Hopefully I can do this without too much damage to the gel coat.


Well-Known Member
Unless it's peeling away and not holding up, taking a grinder to it (with a big shop fan to blow the debris away!), might be an option. Grind down the spots that are too high (use a straight edge) and maybe a bit more. Then just do a proper patch over it. Otherwise, I'd just cut it all out and start fresh. I must say, this is high on the list for some of the worst glass work I've ever seen! I understand functional, but can you actually sit on that? Unless you're a gelcoat expert, I would worry about it too much and just plan on painting the deck with a quality marine paint.... they're easy to use and done properly, can give you stunning results. Then...you patch away, fix as needed and let the fresh paint cover all the repairs..


Well-Known Member
Btw...I have an older 69 Sunfish....wasn't as bad a shape as yours...but sat flooded and "sunk" for about 3 years at a dockside. Took 3 people to pull it up on the dock and that was an effort. I've got way less than $500 in it. Fortunately it had a new style rudder, but I bought a new glass daggerboard and a sail online. New snazzy tiller and extension and new lines. I"m good at gelcoat and fiberglassing...so all that was easy. My boat TO ME is amazing now and we love to bash in the 3-4ft whitecaps, we occasionally encounter on Kentucky Lake.


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New Member
Thats a beautiful boat! Thanks for the advise on the patch & the paint. I'm going to have a go at it tomorrow and see what I find underneath. From what I gathered when I picked it up, I think that patch was done by a teenager who was sad that his boat hit some rocks, and didn't know what else to do. All should be fixable.

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
An ugly repair attempt, but if it's still solid, follow MixMkr's advice: grind away until the deck is smooth, rebuild that rail to original specs, redo the deck if necessary, and whatever else might need rebuilding. Fair out that other crack and use a little glass to fill the resulting void. Use filler (or catalyzed resin with chopped glass fibers for filler) for the smaller cracks and tiny holes in deck and hull, then prime & paint the boat so she looks good and all ugliness is hidden, LOL. Clean up the hardware and fittings, remember to swap one screw at a time where backing blocks are involved. Household vinegar, WD-40, and/or an appropriate metal polish will help to remove corrosion from metal fittings... another option is to clean up fittings as best you can, mask 'em and paint 'em the color of your choice. :rolleyes:

Use sail repair tape for the holes in your main, be sure to tape up each side. I used to like small circular patches of sail repair tape for small holes, the circular patches were pre-cut and it was easy to line up the patches by taping one side, then holding the sail up against the light to see where to place the patch on the opposite side. Those circular adhesive patches commonly used to affix telltales also work for small or mid-sized holes. Sketchy holed seams should be taped in linear fashion along the seam, though that sail appears to be in good enough shape and I don't see any holes along the seams. Larger holes or tears in fabric should be covered with larger patches, and you want to mend that sail prior to your first voyage, it's a marine safety issue. Good luck! :cool:
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New Member
Thank you for the advice and suggestions! I'll have to look into that sail repair tape.

I did some work on the patch today. I guess the good part of a poorly done patch is that it is easy to remove. It had very little structural integrity. Using a grinder and a bit of time it is all gone. The pic is what is underneath. I cut out some of the deck along the fault lines where it was already cracked. Inside, the hull looks solid - except at the top where the rim is missing or crushed. The side of the hull is pretty badly misaligned though, as you can see. So, here's my plan of attack:

1. Align the side of the hull. Thinking to epoxy and clamp a length of plywood (maybe 1/2"? 3/4?") on the inside to draw it back into shape.
2. Restore the rim. Not sure the best way to make the shape of the lip, but I will need a solid rim. Any suggestions? make a wood form or something?
3. Repair the deck. Not sure the best way to do this either. Another thing is the deck is fairly separated from the hull (2nd pic). Not sure if that is normal or not. I'm hoping it is, and that when I reattach it to the hull it will be drawn down to the correct form.

Then reattach the deck to the hull, and put on some new trim.

My goal is to get this done by July 1, when come COVID crazy kids whose Summer plans were all canceled are looking forward to some sailing!



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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Looking good so far.

We'd split the deck/hull seam back past the corner and forward about a foot so you can work inside. The rebuild hull and deck in 2 steps, do the hull side and lip first, then do the deck. They were made of woven roving cloth so we'd use that for both a backer and to replace the missing material. Aligning the hull with plywood sounds good, put some poly between the plywood and the woven roving backer so that the plywood can be removed once the new hull bits are grafted in.

You could make a mold for the lip off of the opposite side, what you need to capture is the sweep of the deck there and the curve from the side up though the lower lip. Use woven roving for the mold and it will be plenty stiff.

For the deck get a stiff board to support a backer of woven roving, glue that up and add a layer of woven roving for the deck thickness. The backer ties the new bit to the old bit. Extend the repair out a little past the outer edge and then sand/grind back to the deck edge line. Pull a pattern for the line from the opposite side traced on cardboard or wax paper.

Scroll through our blog post on extensive fiberglass repairs, you'll get some ideas and also see how to glue the deck and hull back together when the time comes.

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
A strong but lightweight aluminum strap will also serve to bend the side of that hull back into shape, and the strap can be temporary or permanent. Looks like a bit of deformation, but you can "loosen up" that deformed side first with some vertical or angled cuts in the right places, then address the cuts after you get the hull back into its original shape. You follow me? Another (more expensive) option is to rebuild that side where it's out of shape, using simple wooden or cardboard forms. Line any cardboard backing with plastic wrap before securing it into position (tape, tacks, screws, whatever will steadily hold the backing in place & support the first glass layers). :rolleyes:

Wherever & whenever you rebuild glass that is MIA, you'll need some sort of backing, something to support the first layers of glass matt or cloth you put down. Once you have a few cured layers, they will be strong enough to support additional layers and you'll no longer need the form or backing. Sounds confusing, but it's actually pretty simple... if you CANNOT get the side into its original shape, or something close enough so you can build it out to the original shape, just cut out the deformed area and start fresh, though it'll cost you more in materials. Others will chime in here, no doubt... ;)

Your plan is sound: start with the side and get it back into its original shape. Then rebuild the deck that's MIA, you'll need an inspection port to make the job easier. Dunno how long your arms are, you might be able to install a port in the cockpit. If you put a port in the deck, don't put it where you'll be sitting while under way. Fair out all surrounding areas when rebuilding. Hmm, looks like SC already answered your post, and as usual he has some good suggestions. Remember, this repair will be a step-by-step process, just knock out each step and you'll ultimately have a nice-looking functional boat. Cheers!!! :cool:
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New Member
Thank you both for the detailed responses, and great info.

Cactus Cowboy: I think the hull deformation is not too bad; I can fairly easily pop it out by hand. Hoping I don't need to cut slots. I got a 1 1/2" x 1/8" aluminum bar today. I think that will work well - great suggestion. Do you think just clamping and epoxying it to the inside will be sufficient?

Signal Charlie: Wow. Great advice and a fun blog. I had a good time looking at it today. There was a lot packed into your reply. Can I ask a few questions about what you mentioned? I'm still learning the lingo.

1. You said: "Aligning the hull with plywood sounds good, put some poly between the plywood and the woven roving backer so that the plywood can be removed once the new hull bits are grafted in."

I was thinking it (wood/aluminum) would need to stay inside the hull. I assume the "poly" you mention is just plastic sheeting from Home Depot. I might be off base, but I'm guessing you're thinking that rebuilding the rim will provide enough structural integrity that I can "temporarily" epoxy the reinforcing wood inside, and the pry it out after re-building the rim?

3. Great idea for using the other side to make a mold! It would be reversed fore and aft, but that probably isn't a big deal. I'd have to remove the aluminum edging to make the mold. I assume it is pretty trivial to get back on again. My question is: most examples I've seen of using a mold for repair, the mold is inside the hull. For the rim and lip, I'm thinking it might more sense for the mold to go on the outside of the hull with poly film. Is that inadvisable for some reason?

4. For the deck, you suggested I use a board for stiffness. I guess that would be under the deck? So would it be: use a board with some release poly on top of it to adhere a piece of roving backing underside - and then remove the board after curing, and build on top of the roving backing?

Many thanks for this. I'm new to fiberglass repair, and am still understanding the problem space.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
1. Yes, plastic sheeting so that the plywood can be removed. the woven roving backer and new fiberglass layers that rebuild the hull thickness will provide the structure, just like the do in the rest of the boat. By using a poly barrier the plywood does not need to be pried out.

3. For the mold I am primarily considering how you shape the curve from the side of the hull up under the hull flange. Don't need to remove the trim for that, you are just looking for that curve radius. Think about how the boat was made, gelcoat was sprayed into a female mold, then fiberglass laid inside that. So you would be making just enough of the female mold to shape that hull flange curve. Put in the backer of woven roving, let it dry and then sandwich the new hull fiberglass layers between the backer and the mold. I would only use 1-2 strips of 4 oz cloth to make the part of the hull flange that will be epoxied to the deck flange. If the flange is too thick the trim will not go over it.

4. Yes for the deck I would put in the blind hole patch, we use cardboard to hold the woven roving backer patch in place until it tacks. The cardboard stays inside the boat with a blind patch, but if you have the deck seam open then you could put a layer of poly in so you could remove whatever board you use.


New Member
It has been a few wet days in Maryland, so I've been a bit hampered. Got into it yesterday.

First piece of good news is that the deformed hull has largely moved back into shape. I propped a piece of wood inside against the foam pushing it out. After about a day I removed it, and the hull basically stayed where it was. Not perfect, but good enough so that when I re-form the edge and attach the deck, I think it will be pretty darn close. Not going to worry about it.

The mold for the edge worked well! I made one about 18" long, and am now re-forming the lip. Fun fact: woven roving does not bend around a sharp edge very well. Can probably be pressed into place, but I'm going to go ahead and use multiple layers of a lighter cloth instead. I'll save the roving for the deck.

Six days left. Some pics attached.


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Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Yeah, woven roving is too thick to use for some joints and compound curves, it doesn't conform well, and that often leads to air bubbles or 'air tunnels' which weaken the repair. Better to use multiple layers of lighter weight cloth, taking care to thoroughly wet up each layer. :rolleyes:

Woven roving is great for replacing large sections of the hull or deck which are MIA... just be sure to use enough resin and thoroughly wet up the roving. You can start with other layers first, or use a backing of some type to prevent resin from simply draining out of the roving, as it tends to do. ;)

Hey, looks good otherwise, you're taking care of business and soon you'll have a functional boat. You gonna prime & paint her afterward? Any particular choice of colors? To me, that was always the fun part of restoration, choosing colors and making the boat look like a million bucks. :cool:


New Member
What I did was epoxy roving on underneath the deck, held in place temporarily with a backing board screwed in place. Then I put three layers of 6oz on top of that as a normal surface patch. I'm not sure what the "right" thickness is for a repair like this, but it seems to approximate the original deck thickness.

For this phase, I'm not planning to do much with the color. What I'd really like to do is restore the original gelcoat, but that may be just because I don't know what I'm getting into. I realize topside paint would be much easier. I can see the original red where I've removed the trim, and it is quite striking. For now, I'm just going to leave the patch as is, and buff/wax it.

Today is clamp back the deck day. 5 days to go.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
That should be close to the thickness, plus you're leaving a little divot to fill with fairing compound and gelcoat (or paint). If it is built up too high then you end up sanding right back through the new fiberglass.

Don't put your repair materials away yet, once you get that sealed up I'd do an air leak test to see if any other fiberglass needs attention.

With the right wet sanding and compounding, but not too much, you might be able to get that color back.


New Member
OK. Deck looks good! That bad news is clamping it to the lip was a bit more difficult than I thought. I strongly advise anyone who tries this to do a complete dry run with clamps, sticks and such to make sure you can get the deck and lip together cleanly. I stupidly did not do this, and was surprised by how hard it was. The ten $1.00 clamps I got at Home Depot didn't quite do it. I ran around collecting every other clamp I could find around the house and patched together something that I'm hoping worked. Very hard to tell how good a job I did. Going to open it up tomorrow morning to see.

In other news, I got the bailer out. It was very corroded together. Tried a breaker bar with a 36mm and had no luck. Finally pulled out the impact driver which knocked that thing right off. Still has the little ball - all I need is a new gasket and I think I'm good.

Copy that on the leak test. Will do that once I'm done fairing the deck.

Four more days


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New Member
Removed the clamps this morning...and it looks really good! The deck is well sealed to the hull, and there are not noticeable gaps. Whew! My rooking clamping job seems to have been good enough after all.

Started today patching the hull. Using MarineTex for expediency - I realize it won't match well. Also started fairing the deck. T

If anyone has a suggestion for cleaning the hull, please let me know. I've done Oxi-clean and a gentle bleach solution, which helped, but it still looks pretty bad.


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Well-Known Member
Toilet bowl cleaner ...full strength. Let the product do the work. Won't hurt the gelcoat...but I wouldn't put it on a new boat. Expect to use most of the bottle. 2000 grit takes out buffer swirl marks...way too fine a grit....good if you're painting a car. Drop down to 600 grit...but I think some Tidy-bowl will get the lion's share. Finish up with the sanding as needed and then power buff. Google Aqua Buff....killer compound with a quality rotary buffer. Takes out 400 grit scratches with a new $35 3M wool pad.


New Member
Thanks for the toilet bowl cleaner suggestion. I'll do that when I get the boat back in the shop.

I finished the repair (for now) Wednesday morning, and went for the first sail Thursday AM. The boat isn't pretty - but I have a Sunfish in the water, and some happy kids. A sincere thank you to all here for the advice and help!


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Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Groovy... and it's not THAT noticeable (from a distance, LOL). Cheers!!! :cool:

P.S. Happy kids, always better than unhappy kids... ;)