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Cutting that first hole anxiety.

Chillpoints

New Member
So I have researched many threads that talk about drying your sunfish and the need to install an inspection port to allow for proper air flow. My question that does not seem to be addressed anywhere is how do you overcome the fear of cutting that first hole in your boat?

We received this beautiful AMF ,79 sunfish as a gift about 19 years ago from a dear friend of the family. We have enjoyed it many times over the years and have wonderful memories of sailing as my daughter grew.
Fast forward many years as seems to happen. I have not been able to do anything much less sail for the past 2+years due to a tough battle with Cancer. This was my third time in 20 years and the most difficult. Fortunately I am cancer free at the moment and beginning to get up and out although I am under limited exertion. Recently I was out at the storage area and noticed the tarp covering the boat was totally shot. Feeling like I could at least find enough energy to change the tarp resulted in discovering more of a project than I had anticipated. The hull had at least 2 gal of water inside. This was a surprise as it has never happened before and it was obviously not on the water. Immediately I felt bad for not taking better care of the boat. Guilt can be a strong motivator. In all honesty I could not have done any more as I was in the hospital over 65 days last year. Non the less it is time to rectify the problem.
I managed to weighed her with a little help and sure enough at 140lbs it appears she has some weight to loose. This I know is common and it is likely as simple as adding an inspection port to allow a fan or dehumidifier to dry out the foam on the inside. Before opening the hull up I decided to do some investigation into where the water may have been entering since it was not in the water. A pressure test showed that I was having some air leaks under the coaming. Removing the screws it looks like a previous owner has installed expanding hollow wall anchors into screw holes. There are lots of little cracks developing around each screw hole likely caused by the force outward on the hole. There was no waterproofing/sealant between the coaming and the deck. Being a vintage Airstream owner we often use butyl tape for outside attachments as it is water proof but can easily be cleaned off if necessary. I could see how a very thin strip of weather seal could be compressed to form a water intrusion barrier as well. I need to research to see what suggestions are out there.

So I have been struggling with cutting the first hole into the boat. I know the logical place is between the coaming and the front of the dagger board trunk. However I have read several places where people have placed a hole in the front wall of the bulk head. I like the idea of the ultimate inspection port and the ability to put a small paddle under the deck. (I have always hated that silly little paddle bouncing around in the cockpit area) So now I have to decide where to place my "first" inspection port. I am assuming if I need to do work on the coaming that the top side deck is best, but I want the other one long term. Does this mean I am ultimately just going to be adding two inspection ports?
So here is where you all can help.

What is the best way to attach the coaming and is there something that I need to do to repair this area? (which will require the top deck port)
Has anyone installed the round 5 in' inspection port on the forward bulk head and actually figured out how to put a small (slim) paddle in there?
Any specific pros or cons on either location that could make a difference?

On a side note I do have some small hairline cracks on the deck on either side of the rear of the cockpit. These are perfectly aligned with the corners of the fiberglass walls of the bulk head at the rear. Fortunately the cancer treatment caused me to loose 50 lbs of weight including a tumor, a kidney , portions of stomach and duodenum, half of the pancreas and about a foot of "unnecessary" inferior vena cava among other things. (they tell me the 3M rubber hose is superior even when used as the inferior) So now I am well under 200lbs and hopefully will not be causing any additional damage. Any suggestions on repair would be helpful. I will start researching that soon.

Thanks for all the treads with good ideas that have given me some ideas so far. I am hoping this is something that can occupy my time a bit as I am not able to return to work due to physical limitations.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or ideas.
Jonathan
 

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L&VW

Well-Known Member
I don't think you have a problem. It's ten pounds...if you have a helper, that extra weight is manageable to get you out sailing.

Butyl is one answer to the splashguard leak, although storing the Sunfish on edge, with the drain open (or just "cracked") will help to move the trapped water from the factory's foam.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
To continue:

Sorry to hear of your trials with cancer. Check it out: Even dinosaurs would suffer with it! :eek:

Of my four remaining Sunfish, I have the same year (and not-cut-into) Sunfish.

Over winter, more water will condense inside, (and there'll be a temporary gain), but it will continally leak out until next season begins. In short, you can "live" with ten pounds. (One Imperial gallon). ;)

Cutting an inspection port won't hurt anything, but it's a project that can be left for the off-season.

I do like the "Ultimate Inspection Port", but it's an awkward job--working inside the cockpit--and I should have put the hinge uppermost. Standing under an inverted hull would have eased the job, but it's "just me" as the laborer. ;)

It makes the "usual" deck inspection port redundant. Of course, rain bypasses the deck's original inspection port :rolleyes: which I had to replace due to the sun's "fatal" UV rays. The new inspection port is garbage--made in "that place over there"--that we can't talk about anymore. :(

I need to check if my take-down Folbot kayak paddle will clear the daggerboard trunk inside. (Through both types of those ports). Borrowed recently, I discovered a kayak paddle can drive the Sunfish harder than any other manual method.
 

Alan S. Glos

Well-Known Member
My bias is that the Sunfish should come from the factory with a sturdy 6" diameter port installed on the deck centered between the forward end of the daggerboard trunk and the aft of the "V" of the coaming. This would allow for easy access to a lot of the vital parts of the hull and would allow the skipper to check for water in the bilge.

That said, at only 10 lbs over new weight, you don't really need to be concerned and don't really need to install an inspection port.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

Chillpoints

New Member
To continue:

Sorry to hear of your trials with cancer. Check it out: Even dinosaurs would suffer with it! :eek:

Of my four remaining Sunfish, I have the same year (and not-cut-into) Sunfish.

Over winter, more water will condense inside, (and there'll be a temporary gain), but it will continally leak out until next season begins. In short, you can "live" with ten pounds. (One Imperial gallon). ;)

Cutting an inspection port won't hurt anything, but it's a project that can be left for the off-season.

I do like the "Ultimate Inspection Port", but it's an awkward job--working inside the cockpit--and I should have put the hinge uppermost. Standing under an inverted hull would have eased the job, but it's "just me" as the laborer. ;)

It makes the "usual" deck inspection port redundant. Of course, rain bypasses the deck's original inspection port :rolleyes: which I had to replace due to the sun's "fatal" UV rays. The new inspection port is garbage--made in "that place over there"--that we can't talk about anymore. :(

I need to check if my take-down Folbot kayak paddle will clear the daggerboard trunk inside. (Through both types of those ports). Borrowed recently, I discovered a kayak paddle can drive the Sunfish harder than any other manual method.

Thanks for the kind words and your suggestions. I have been looking for information about storing the fish on its side long term. I see very few places there this is mentioned as an option. Mostly when stacking lots of them against a sail house for short term. I am thinking of building a cradle that follows the contour of the side of the boat to spread the load over a 5 foot span ( spacing of my current post for my canoe storage rack). Thinking if I did this with the drain plug in the down position would be helpful. I would still cover the boat with a tarp to keep the sun rays off the hull.
Any thoughts on this type of long term storage?

I have been a long time canoe enthusiast and have often considered making some sort of "beaver tail paddle" long but very narrow just because the look cool. I need to look at kayak paddles as well.
 

Chillpoints

New Member
So it is looking like most are suggesting allowing the boat to dry naturally if possible. My concern is not only the additional weight but what damage is being done to wood structures and foam on the interior with high humidity. As I stated above I am considering a cradle to allow the boat to remain on its side long term. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I am beginning the research on the coaming attachments. What is the best way to do this if you don't have access under the deck? are plastic shells really the best solution?
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
I had the same ‘rivnuts’ anchoring my splashguard. A rivnut gun is quite expensive (especially for a single use) and I didn’t know where to borrow one, so I filled the holes with thickened epoxy (I like West System Six-10, easy to use and you will have many uses for it), then redrilled (1/8th” bit, I believe) then reattach the coaming/splashguard with rivets- would have to check on that length. There’s no need for sealant around the coaming. As you can see in one of my pics, I had butyl tape ready but didn’t end up using it.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Your boat should weigh 139 pounds. She is not overweight.

Specs Alcort Sailfish Sunfish.jpeg

If you decide to add a deck plate, we suggest the 6 inch plate, placed between the coaming and the daggerboard trunk.

Your paddle can be stowed under your halyard.

Your coaming had rivets at one point, I'd order replacements from a Laser Performance Sunfish parts dealer. Or we found a rivet dealer. The rivets need to be aluminum, and they need to be closed end.

Screen Shot 2021-08-16 at 7.19.45 AM.png


Most likely the hairline cracks are gelcoat cracks, not a structural issue. I would only repair those if they started to chip and exposed the fiberglass underneath.

Gather up her rigging and go sailing!
 

Chillpoints

New Member
Your boat should weigh 139 pounds. She is not overweight.

View attachment 47772

If you decide to add a deck plate, we suggest the 6 inch plate, placed between the coaming and the daggerboard trunk.

Your paddle can be stowed under your halyard.

Your coaming had rivets at one point, I'd order replacements from a Laser Performance Sunfish parts dealer. Or we found a rivet dealer. The rivets need to be aluminum, and they need to be closed end.




Most likely the hairline cracks are gelcoat cracks, not a structural issue. I would only repair those if they started to chip and exposed the fiberglass underneath.

Gather up her rigging and go sailing!
Thanks for the information.
Everything I was finding said the weight of the 1987 model was 129lbs indicating about 10 lbs heavy. Where is the information you posted above come from? I am not doubting, just curious about he discrepancy in information.

As for Rivets...
I have a 1992 Airstream so am very versed in rivets. I actually have a plate on the front of my truck " Riveted" which often gets questions. I am thinking that you are correct that the closed end rivets are the way to go. I do have on hand some Olympic rivets that would work also. They just take longer to install and must be shaved after installation. These are used on the exterior of the Airstream and are waterproof. Unfortunately they are also very expensive so I will price out the closed end options first.

I am listening to all those who are suggesting that I my gut feeling that I don't want any new holes in my boat is correct. I have decided to hold off a bit. Since I removed the Coaming which opens several small holes in the deck while I decide what rivets to install, I am trying a method I hope will dry out any moisture that may be in there be that 1 imperial gal. or only a few drops.

I carefully removed the drain plug along with the retaining clip to allow full air flow through that small hole. I had a 12v blower from a neighbors inflatable yard ornament that had gotten destroyed. This fan motor is designed for continuous run and develops a small amount of pressure to inflate the silly cloth what ever it was. I have taped this over the drain plug opening allowing the airflow out of the multiple coaming screw/rivet holes. I will let it run in the garage today due to lots of heavy rain, but will put it outside in the sun the first chance I get. Hopefully this will increase the airflow enough to dry out any remaining water.

I am still looking for any information about storing the fish on its side long term. I am designing (in my head) ways to do that. It at least keeps my mind busy.

Thanks again for any and all suggestions or thoughts.
 

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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I hate to disagree with SC, but I believe by the late 70s Sunfish were down to 129 or so. The chart he shows is from the 60s as it includes several wooden boats. Boats in the early 80s were in the mid 120s, roughly where they are today.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I need to check if my take-down Folbot kayak paddle will clear the daggerboard trunk inside. (Through both types of those ports). Borrowed recently, I discovered a kayak paddle can drive the Sunfish harder than any other manual method.
The nicely-constructed wooden Folbot kayak paddle won't fit either the 6" port, nor clear the daggerboard trunk through the UIP. So, I guess it's for sale. :(
 
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