Drying out a Sunfish

if soaked, I'd probably cut 2 of them to help with air flowing through the boat. I like to put one right up near the back of the splashguard. will the Sunfish need a rudder upgrade? if so, place the second port back on the deck near the transom. if not, I like to put the 2nd port in the wall of the cockpit.

if you haven't already, read the .pdf files from the Sunfish Knowledge Base - lots of good information there!
Inspection Ports
How to dry out a wet hull

I then rigged up an old computer fan for some airflow. some like a heat source as well, like a low wattage light bulb.

Thread starter #4
well I do appreciate your input and I do have a 12v fan. That said, how long on average should it take to dry a soaked interior. I realize there are variables, but I really have no perspective on this. THANKS
well I do appreciate your input and I do have a 12v fan. That said, how long on average should it take to dry a soaked interior. I realize there are variables, but I really have no perspective on this. THANKS
The first 50% of weight reduction and drying can take 1-2 months. The other 50% can take 6 months or more; all depending on how wet it actually is and how aggressive the drying method is.

H Lie

New Member
Here is a picture of what I do to help dry my hull. The black plastic helps to retain heat and the chimney stack helps draw air/moisture up and out. Notice the small fan on the rear inspection port - I don't always use this, but have notice it does aid in faster drying times. I hope people find this helpful! Sunfish Drying.jpg
I picked up an 86 sunfish last winter very cheap. It was on a working trailer where it had sat for 10 years. Found out it was full of water and after draining it still was a good 200 lbs. I installed two 4" ports and let it bake in the sun for 6 weeks with no results. I've been using a hair dryer for a week for around 3 hrs a day when I'm around and she's drying out very fast! I haven't weight it yet but I can pick it up now. I'll go another week and try weighing it again. I think this is the best way to dry one fast.


Active Member
If using black plastic to heat the hull (or deck) up to help dry it, try this experiment. Tape a section of the black plastic flat and flush to the surface, and another with some space as in the picture above. After a while in the sun, put your hand on the deck and check the tempurature of each, as well as an uncovered section.

You will probably find that the deck or hull area where the plastic is flush is quite a bit hotter than where there is air between. When using this method to heat the hull side, even avoiding the small gap caused by the raised center and keeping the plastic flush everywhere makes a big difference.

Also as L&V noted the cutout will always come in useful. Whenever I install a hiking strap or similar I use maybe half the cutout as a backing plate to reinforce inside behind the fitting and spread the stress area. Just glue it in place inside with some 3M 5500 or similar.
I have used the following method with good results. Install a 6" dia. inspection port on the deck halfway between the inner "V" of the splashrail and the forward end of the daggerboard trunk. This location also give you access to the daggerboard trunk, the
mast tube and the forward wall of the cockpit tub if you ever need to make repairs or modifications there. Then install a second 4" port centered on the after deck about 2" forward of the aluminum hull/deck trim. Next, go to Lowes or Home Depot and spring $17 for a 6" duct fan (intended purpose to improve heating or AC flow at the end of a long duct work run.) The fan runs on regular household current and fits snugly in the 6" dia, plastic port. Turn the hull upside down on saw horses, insert a 40 watt lightbulb inside the hull, cover the 4" port with 1/4" wire mesh (to keep critters out if the hull), turn on the fan, and let it run....for a few months. If you life in Flagstaff, AZ (read: hot and dry) it will not take long to see good results. But if you live in a colder, more humid climate, it will take longer. I had one mid-1970s hull go from about 200 lbs to about 145 after a Thanksgiving to Easter dry-out.

Added: Make sure the boat does not leak or you will need to do this all over again in a year or so. See "leak test" on this site's FAQ.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
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As noted above, drying out a Sunfish can be a first-class pain in the neck. I live on the Gulf Coast where it's humid and raining most of the time. Oddly, I somehow managed to get as much water in my boat while it was sitting on it's trailer as I did while sailing. The only thing I can think of is that water left in the cockpit leaked into the hull around the edges of the bailer..... but that's a guess only. All I know for sure is that it was dry in April, and in July it had 30 lbs of water in it.

BUT, I just spent a few days (ok.... more like a few weeks) drying it out through a port the previous owner installed between the Daggerboard Trunk and Coaming. I can say from experience that is not the best place for an opening. While great for access to the DB trunk and mast step, it is useless for drying out the aft half of the boat. I really wish that I had put a small port somewhere aft to get a good circulation going. Oh well.... maybe next time.

Now that I've got mine dry, I got smart and put a nice deck-cover on my boat to keep the deck / cockpit dry while it's resting on its trailer. If it gets wet inside again, I'm going to paint the entire boat (inside and out) with that Flex-Seal stuff they sell on infomercials! (not really)
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what's the best place to cut a hole for an inspection port to dry out a soaked hull. THANKS
what's the best place to cut a hole for an inspection port to dry out a soaked hull. THANKS
I have dried out 2 hulls with following technique, Cut inspection holes at bow and stern, cover deck with black plastic, set in sun for several days with one end of hull several feet higher than the other to encourage air flow up and out as it heats. Deck under plastic gets too hot to touch. One hull dried from 190 to 120 (my scales) within a week. ( Scrap piece of deck from cutouts was soaked and water squeezed out like a sponge)

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
There are almost 40 holes and seams in a Sunfish. Seam may be split and water can seep in there, under the trim. Next candidates are mast step, bailer hole seam, coaming rivets and drain added drain plugs.

Also keep in mind there is a vent hole in the forward cockpit wall. If it rains, bailer is plugged and cockpit fills up, water will drain into the hull.