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Bailer ELIMINATION question

RogerMusser

New Member
I cleaned-up and got several of our club’s Sunfish boats ready for winter storage.

I noticed that our club has several boats that have no bailers, just a hole in the cockpit floor. The boats are therefore not seaworthy and need to be fixed. The cost of replacement, while not terribly expensive, would use up resources that might be better used for other purposes.

Do the Sunfish boats really need a bailer? In the past, with Sunfish boats with the standard-equipment self-bailer, I’ve found that a small plastic hand-bailer and a nice sponge work better. Even if the self-bailer worked well a sponge is still necessary if a dry cockpit is desired. I’m of the opinion that the original-equipment bailers are more trouble than they are worth.

Anyone have an opinion on the merits of replacing the bailer with a fiberglass patch and sailing without a self-bailer?
Has anyone done this? If so, how?

Our boats are operated by a wide range of sailors of all ages and skill levels. The boats are used for classes and open use on a large freshwater lake in North Carolina.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
On a windy day with a cockpit full of water after a capsize, do people really want to sit out there for 5 or more minutes bailing with a bucket, or do they want to sail? Even if it’s only partly full, no one is going to want to stop to bail the cockpit. If fun is the objective I think you need the auto bailers. They work just fine.

And a totally dry cockpit is a temporary thing with a Sunfish. If it is windy enough the cockpit got wet, totally drying it with a sponge only means it’ll be wet again in another minute or two.

Also, having gone to the trouble of making the hiking straps aesthetically pleasing, it seems counterintuitive to glass over the bailer opening.
 
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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Random thoughts:

Do they need a bailer? No. Our 1965 boat WAVE hasn't had one for over 25 years. Until now. We (I) only capsized WAVE once, back in 1994, a beautiful turtIe that resulted in a bent upper boom. Sailed back to shore slowly wondering how to apologize to Skipper, she was happy because she got new spars.

A few weeks back I removed the patch job on WAVE's and old bailer remnants and will be reinstalling a new bailer. We like the convenience of having a bailer to drain the cockpit both on land and sea.

Hull side of old metal bailer remnants.

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Cockpit side bailer remnants

IMG_1217.JPG

I'm going to guess racers like it as the fastest way to drain a cockpit. When they work right the design is pretty cool and water disappears fast.

Now your Club scenario is a little different. Skipper cringes from the memory of students dropping boats and busting off the bailers, so she would skip having them on Club boats.

So removing a bailer may only have benefit from a maintenance budget perspective.

From a restoration perspective I find it a negative to have to undo design changes and put a boat back to stock hull configuration.

Maybe try a test boat with a Gorilla Tape patch, or some other "waterproof tape."

Once the bailer is out, make sure to check the cockpit/hull seam, water can get in through the seam if there is a split. A lot of water in a short period of time. The bailer is the last line of defense against that.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I tried a temporary fix using a rubber automotive "freeze plug".

They're $5 each, and available at automotive supply stores in the correct inch-and-a-quarter size. It takes only a few seconds to remove the plug to drain collected rainwater (when ashore). That "temporary fix" is now permanent in three of my five Sunfish. ;)

Use "search" to find more tips on this "freeze plug". I think "lawnmower" will find the thread, too.

For a bailer, I've been using a standard drinking-water bottle, with the top 2" sliced off. Pinched at the rim between thumb and forefinger, it's not a speedy bailer, but it's cheap and won't harm anything if stepped on, even repeatedly.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Here's the link:
 

klemsaba

New Member
Do the Sunfish boats really need a bailer? In the past, with Sunfish boats with the standard-equipment self-bailer, I’ve found that a small plastic hand-bailer and a nice sponge work better. Even if the self-bailer worked well a sponge is still necessary if a dry cockpit is desired. I’m of the opinion that the original-equipment bailers are more trouble than they are worth.
A Sunfish without a bailer? Could be worse. Try an Opti without a bailer! I feel sorry every time I see a kid bailing out their swamped boat.
 

RogerMusser

New Member
Thanks beldar, Signal, L&VW, and Klemsaba for your thoughtful replies.

I still have mixed feelings about what to do with the boats with no bailer assemblies. Before I overhauled all of the bailers that we have on the boats *some* would leak. Also, others and I have complained that we had occasionally kicked out the tethered plug-cap while sailing and that reinforced my dislike of the bailers. Plus, I didn’t recall ever using the bailer as intended when sailing. It always seemed that a few quick scoops of a bailer and a mop-up with a big sponge worked well.

However, I have often found the bailers handy to drain a boat while out of the water. Plus, they are club boats and I’m not the only person sailing the boat and some prefer to use the bailers.

Thanks again for those that responded, I’ll have confidence to ask club management to order the parts that I need.
 

sailcraftri

Well-Known Member
I have Phantom bailers at cheap prices. You would still need to fill in the larger diameter SF hole and drill a new 3/4" diameter hole for the Phantom bailer. I sell one for $5, two for $8. 5 for $15. Shipping extra. Contact me at cjo1023 at yahoo dot com.
 
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