Basic Repairs

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I'm new to sailing and bought a 1972 Sunfish to learn on. I would appreciate advise on the plug at the bottom (its only a hole now) and recommended videos and resources of sailing, maintenance and repair. I'm lookig forward to this new adventure.

if you mean the hole/plug in the bottom of the cockpit (where your feet go), then there should be an auto bailer in the hole.
you can buy one here: Bailer Assembly
NOTE: make sure you buy the correct length version depending on the age of your Sunfish.

some folks just buy a drain plug that fits the hole - it just doesn't allow water to drain from the cockpit while you are sailing.


Well-Known Member
"...some folks just buy a drain plug that fits the hole - it just doesn't allow water to drain from the cockpit while you are sailing.
One link to the $5—but secure—drain plug:

AMF Windflite leaking |

If you go the $5 drain plug route, keep an eye on the Internet for the all-aluminum De Persia metal bailer. Not available new, it's a fairly rare Sunfish bailer and has quick-draining limitations; however, it's sunlight-proof so it won't eventually break should your Sunfish be long-stored outdoors and upside-down. (None of my three used Sunfish had intact plastic bailers). Maintaining lubrication on the De Persia's aluminum threads is important, but the only upkeep needed. Read here about what we've found ourselves doing to salvage De Persia bailers:

Restoring Metal DePersia Bailer with Plastic Bailer Parts |

Handy "startup" information is found at the "Sunfish Knowledge Base", found at the top and middle of this page.
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Active Member
I have an intact Despersia bailer and it hardly drains while under sail, but more so just wants to let water in. If Im not on a plane, I dont consider unscrewing the cap. I use it basically for a cockpit drain on the trailer. Ive not heard others talk about the positives of it, except that it isn't plastic.


Active Member
My recommendation is to go with the new plastic Sunfish bailer. It's $46, but the odds of finding a good metal de Persia bailer are limited to none. While the plastic ones are not as durable, if you are just the slightest bit carefule you should not break it. If you are dragging the boat up on the beach, just tilt it a bit to the port side. The plastic ones also do not corrode. I have taken mine out occasionally when laying up for the winter, but this year I left it in. The boat is covered so I do not worry about UV.

IMHO unless you are racing at a very competitive level, I would keep the rubber O ring on it, as this allows the bailer to flex on the hull. It looks daft sitting 1/8" off the hull bottom, but if you look at a lot of boats, you will see hairline cracks in the gel coat from the bailer torquing the bottom. The rubber O ring helps. Honestly, if there is enough force to break the plastic bailer, I would rather have it break than transmit all of that force into a couple of square inches on the hull.

While there are members of this forum who just use a plug, IMHO again, definitely want one as having the water self bail is a beautiful thing.
The plastic bailer have been around since the 70's and my boat still has the original one. They are strong. Certainly if abused, it will break but it is a low cost part and easy to replace. As someone said before they work well and I also sail with mine open all the time the boat is moving. If the boat is sitting, you just put the plug in. It works very well. I have had cockpits full of water from waves and flipping and it will drain it all. Replace the broken metal one with a plastic one that will work and just sail.


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This is like politics. The theme is to get the plastic fantastic, yet mucho discussion on resurrecting the Despersia from the dead. However no campaigns for the quality of one's performance over tbe other. Just original versus "only 46 bucks".
mixmkr - There is no question on performance. The Despersia could never drain down to an empty cockpit. The brass plug restricted flow even more as there were four small holes for the water to drain through as you loosened it. The Despersia was not a smooth surface in the water. The plastic drains a cockpit faster. It is either all open or closed. As pointed out you can sail with it open as the ball seals better on the bottom unlike the Despersia. The Despersia needed more boat speed to work. The plastic also is a far smoother service underwater. Also as pointed out the plastic has been the bailer for 40 years.


Well-Known Member
This is like politics. The theme is to get the plastic fantastic, yet mucho discussion on resurrecting the Depersia from the dead. However no campaigns for the quality of one's performance over the other. Just original versus "only 46 bucks".
JDRhodes' recent 1972 Sunfish acquisition has a missing bailer. The plastic bailer is so-o-o-o very desirable, the previous owner took it with him! :rolleyes: So, what happens when you have to buy two or three over a lifetime of Sunfish ownership(s)?
Answer: You're renting plastic bailers! :eek:

Though less efficient, the DePersia exposes less drag due to its smaller size. Should it be corroded, it can be refinished and polished where it's exposed to water flow: the threads cleaned up and sealed where needed. A regular garden hose washer is a perfect fit into the DePersia's one-way flow mechanism, The plastic bailer's float-ball will fit the DePersia and can be purchased cheaply—packaged in packets containing five.

So...whose metal one works worth using?
There are at least two DePersia designs: one is the pop-up version, as fitted to the look-alike Viking.

:confused: OK, I'll concede :oops: that my sailing style is like Sir Paul McCartney's—and we're also the same age—so I seldom "ship" much water. (And I do like debate). ;)



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I'm finding people are keeping the DePersia bailer plug when they sell the boat. Something
to do with all those $60 plugs on EBay. The DePersia bailer unit seems plentiful going for
around $25 or so. Often gotta buy a lot of junk hardware along with it. Personally I don't
like what plastic did to outboards and plastic in general, just my opinion and nothing more.


Active Member
There is a practical reason for restoring a DePersia on my 1969 Sunfish. The area around the ramp I use has a stoney bottom. I have to leave the boat resting on the stones while I park the car.


Well-Known Member
Yes, get a plastic bailer. It's extremely rare that they break even with moderate abuse.
Each to his own. This plastic-bailer comment appeared while searching for "37-mm":

"PBA, if you weren't so far away I'd send (give) you the bailer assembly that I just removed from my 07 Sunfish. Actually it's probably better to get a new one, mine is missing the float ball which escaped when one of the retaining pins got pushed up, the hex nut is partially gone and is now 5 sided (still works though). I found that I could bail much quicker using a modified bleach bottle. I removed the assembly because I felt it was adding nothing to the boats performance and spent most of it's work day looking for something to ram into or snag on."
correct part # for bailer replacement |

What prompted the search was a finding that a large socket (used in Porsche 911 or VW engine repair) will fit over the plug and unscrew the large DePersia nut. A socket in 1½" size may be perfect.

Fullscreen capture 4302017 31541 PM.bmp.jpg

While I had my camera out, I thought I'd share a "re-purposing" of a fractured six-inch inspection port cover.

Use adhesive(s) to attach pieces of scrap PVC pipe to vent the hull while shrugging-off rainfall entry. Offset the center to clear the spars: offset the 1¼" pieces to present high/low pressures to passing breezes:

Fullscreen capture 4302017 31428 PM.bmp.jpg



Active Member
Consider the Sunfish unsinkable with or without a plug in the bailer. Without
the plug you'll just have bit of water sloshing around cooling you feet. In truth
the bailer is the least functional part of a Sunfish. We just mess around with
bailer balls and plugs and such for the hell of it. If you don't want to sail without
a plug you can just stick last nights wine-cork in the hole. The bailer is useful
for draining water on the trailer or if you're racing but that's about it.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Gorilla tape, top and bottom, go sail. Use a quart jug with bottom but off for bailer. Put a sponge inside it to clean up boat after sailing. Have fun. Take pictures or it didn't happen.

Bailer quart jug sponge copy.png