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advice and guidance please

Hello -
3 seasons ago I found a 1984 Sunfish at an estate sale here in the Detroit area and it was so nice and complete I couldn't afford not to buy it. She was in garage storage for a very long time and before that did some duty on Deer Lake in Clarkston. She now lives in the Upper Peninsula at my up north place (all us michiganders have an 'up north' thing) on a large but fairly shallow inland lake that feeds into Lake Michigan called Millecoquins Lake. Wind conditions can be anything from completely calm to full gale with instant 90 degree direction changes. It's a great spot but sailing season is pretty short in the U.P. I was just up this past weekend and took the boat off the lake to store inside the garage and noticed she gained a few pounds and it has me a little concerned. My wife and I were able to lift it out of the water and onto the dock pretty easily so I don't think she took on too much water over the summer but she did take on some. I opened the deck drain plug and tipped her up and watched maybe 1 gallon or so of clean water drain out. I don't have a way to weigh the hull but she seems like she's a bit heavier than 130 lbs. In June I put her in the lake and kept her stored outside slung under my dock when not in use as it's a pain getting watercraft in and out of the water due to my steep, tall and rocky shoreline. So, my main question is how concerned about this should I be? The fact that a drain plug exists tells me that some water ingress is anticipated, but on a perfect hull the only way into the hull would be via the vent hole? I do not have a perfect hull; there is a small bit of damage on the port side aft corner where she had a bit of a collision with something at some point and when I had the hull out of the water I did an air test and it indeed bubbles up at that corner. She holds the pressure pretty tightly though. I also checked for overall stiffness and any loose junk that might be sliding around inside and found the hull to be very rigid, solid and sound. I'm thinking that most of the H2O she took on is actually rain water, seeping in from the damaged corner and possibly the mast hole. Does a hull that has some water in it always mean a 'waterlogged' condition or can some water be in there without it getting soaked up by the foam? I'm tempted to cut in some appropriately placed inspection ports to monitor this and I'm not inclined to undertake the repair in the corner as it is barely visible, barley leaks, and my luck would probably wind up making things worse, not better. I have the hull stored in the garage, vertically on its side against the wall (slung so no contact with floor), with the drain plug out. So what do you more experienced swabbies think of the situation?


Active Member
If you just let the kids fart around with it you could leave as is but if
you want the best performance and something that will not break
you back trying to transport there is no other option than inspection
ports. It's a 30 minute to one hour job to install them so I always go
with that option. You'll also be making a place to store lines, keys,
wallet and what not. Once you get the weight down sailing in
light winds will become 100% better.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Eventually the water soaks into the foam and the boat slowly gains weight. So over the summer it is all but certain that the foam has absorbed some water. Given you poured a gallon out, and there is probably more soaked into the foam, the prudent thing to do would be to fix the leak. A gallon weighs 7 lbs, so I'd want to fix it.


Well-Known Member
Official Sunfish photographs show the hull stored up on its edge, with the drain plug down. Water that collects (or has collected) is allowed to drip out over time.

Sunfish designers expected a natural accumulation of condensation with daily temperature changes. The air exchange is through the small vent or through "insults" to the hull. Could one season have allowed for an accumulation of a gallon of clear water condensation? Maybe. It depends on the temperature of the water it's stored over and the number of warm/cold days in a season.

More likely are leaks in the mast step, the daggerboard trunk, or a drain in the transom (if installed). Keeping rain water out of the mast step would be a good start. As suggested this week by member Mr. Dabolina, a spray-paint can plastic top will keep water out of the mast step.

To be sure the interior "glue-foam" isn't saturated, the boat's weight should be taken: A bathroom scale is all that's needed. Even if it's heavy, your dry winters of drying-out with one or two inspection ports kept open should be enough to dry it out.

I think fiberglassing is fun and rewarding, but the tedious labor involved in finding and fixing the other leak possibilities may make lugging the Sunfish uphill to dry storage annually your best alternative.
Thanks for the replies. I wonder if someone has a diagram or measuring points showing precisely the places inspection ports should be installed.


Active Member
Standard is one behind the splash rail center of boat and one about four inches forward from stern center of boat.
Put a muffin fan over one hole before you install the ports and depending on foam saturation blow air through the boat for one to four months. There are some vids on Youtube showing this.