Beaching Sunfish in Surf

Thread starter #1
If this has been discussed before, sorry, I missed it.

My several attempts to beach my 'fish in a mild surf have all ended in disaster: broken mast, broken dagger board, sails buried in sand, etc etc. Any suggestions? What do you think of this idea? Drop, furn and tie sail to bridle, raise board, raise rudder, get off sunfish and swim it to shore holding (or trying) to hold onto the stern - maybe the bridle. When it gets inside the surf pulll it up on the beach as quickly as possible. I have no dock to bring it into.

Thread starter #3
Mmmm. Good question. I'd say 1 to 2 feet and yes, they do break - usually just once. I'm talking specifically about the North Carolina coast - North Topsail Beach.
Off the beach at Topsail is rough going for a Sunfish. If it's calm enough, there probably isn't enough wind to push you out. If that's your home turf unload the sunfish and look into a Hobie Wave. You'll cut right through the waves on the way out and coast back in with out breaking a sweat.

(Sorry that's probably not a PC thing to say on the Sunfish board.):eek:

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
If you are launching and beaching in breaking waves, it will be tough. The Hobie could be the best choice. With a Sunfish, the best approach is probably to have a plastic and not wood rudder blade and follow the following procedure, and I assume that it is likely an onshore or sideshore breeze. When you get near the shore, get the board all the way up (you need a shockcord to keep it up.) Then, depending the wind and wave situation, either beach the boat bow first, hopping out to slow it down at the last possible instant, while also pulling the tiller to pop up the rudder, OR with the board already all the way up, pull up the rudder using the tiller (that is why you need a plastic rudder - the wood one will split ) and hop out, grab the bow handle and back it onto the beach - your recovery team will need to be there to get the stern. Good luck!


Upside down?
Staff member
It has already been pointed out that it is all but impossible to control a Sunfish in breaking waves, and you won't be able to control your fish by holding on to the stern in anything but a 'gentle' wave.

My 'experience'
While in Cabarete (on the North shore of the Dominican Republic) a bunch of eager sailors were forbidden to go out because of breaking waves. The wind had died down to about 10 mph but the shore break (~3 ft) was still on from the previous day. Even three people couldn't control the boat (a Laser, but this would apply to a Sunfish as well). The next day, the shore break was only a ft or so and we could leave the beach with the help of another person.

PS: Here is a link showing world class sailors struggling to get going off the beach (Lewes, Delaware; Sunfish World championship, 2013).
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Thread starter #10
I was afraid your answers would agree with my experiences. Great photo of the 'fish caught in the wave - could have been me but wasn't. Very similar, tho!


Well-Known Member
I don't know the Sunfish World championship rules and viewed the above the Sunfish World championship video at Lewes Beach. (The Florida Everglades Challenge rules are very specific about the start).

Would it be legal to drop a small mushroom anchor with a long polypropylene (floating) line and—with the sail lowered—pull yourself out past the breaking surf? It may be necessary to run the line through the bow handle, raise the sail and sail-away letting the line run out.
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