Fall Mess Abouts

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Who is boating in the fall? All makes all models. In some spots, boats are already put away for the season, others are still waiting for heat index to drop below 100F. In VIrginia we had 100F heat index a few days ago with 52F the following morning. But we had a weather window to get out with our new Nutshell Pram EXCUSE me on the Autumnal equinox and she is a capable little sail, oar and scull boat.


Skipper is still in rehab for he back injury so she stayed ashore and Skippervised, but we are hoping that Summer is gone and the cool Fall temps will offer several opportunities to get the Sunfish into the Lower James River.



The small beach we found is quiet, and a good spot to trailer to and then dolly launch.


What's coming up in your neck of the woods?


I’d Rather Be Sailing My Tornado
We are four days into a five day continuous rain and 55 degrees or less. Winds 15-25 N-NW. Fresh water lake near Traverse City, Michigan. November came early.

All the toys are covered in the woods or in the garage.

Tornado, Rebel, Jon, Sunfish, Sea Doo

In October we return to Trinidad and launch Roxy, 1984 Camper & Nicholson58 ketch for the Caribbean season. Sort of like “Endless Summer”.


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joe c

was out end of last week. 70 air temp cloudy and 70 water. storm tide was waaaay out. 2 people couldnt launch off the ramp. i just went out to get out. 50 today yesterday and tomorrow with ian remnants around. ill be back out as soon as the sun is and the wild comes up. the bouy the morning i went out said gusting to 30! eek! then said 17 when i went out in the afternoon. and when i finally got ont he water it might have been gusting 10-12 around the point. i had to kink to get the boat back on the trailer. the beach pic is the swimming beach. its usually mid thigh deep there.


Well-Known Member
That is a great question, Signal Charlie. Looking at my sailing diary, I noticed that I get my best sailing in during the early fall. The lake is less crowded, winds are better, and the water is warmer than in late Spring. The temp hit 74 F here in the lower peninsula of Michigan today and the winds were 17 with gusts to 27 SSW so I saw this as my last chance at a perfect day of sailing before the temps drop. I took out my '76 Super Sunfish ("Super") but with the standard Sunfish lateen sail and AeroSouth rudder and had a blast. GPS-X tracked a top speed of 12.2 mph with sustained runs of 10mph. (Yes, I know the experts will tell me to adjust my halyard so the sail is closer to the deck, but my back won't let me duck that easily when the sail is any lower.)

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Joe C nice tilt trailer, certainly helpful to launch and retrieve. Makes getting on the water even easier than it already is.


Active Member
Our home-built wooden runabout traveled on a "tilt trailer" in 1955. A heavy spring latch assured safe travels.

I've relocated to my Sunfish "yard", and contemplating new wooden backup blocks for two of my three Sunfish here.


Well, my MFG Copperhead, Vagabond 14 and Mistral16 are all tucked away as is my Sunfish, but I'm keeping this new to me "66" Sunfish in ready to go condition for the few good days left. Also have the Catfish on the trailer to do a bit of work on her before it gets too cold, currently waiting for new standing rigging to show up.


I’d Rather Be Sailing My Tornado
Back in Trinidad now. All teak and holly sole cabin interior was completed before we arrive as was the deck with new Awlgrip And nonskid. The bottom is ready for anti fouling if the rain stops. I’ve reinstalled the VHF and RAM back from repairs. New TV in, works. Emptied 280 gallons of water to clean the tanks. Done, but the bilge pump failed. Once again it was bad/old crimp connectors. Rewired with ABYC wire and soldered all joints. Better to find here than at sea! Varnish team is doing the hatches, toe rail, hand grips, cockpit. I will be shocked if they make it. The new dinghy needs the fuel system, filters, tank installed. Parts on hand. The Frigaboat and the cold plates failed to work. Really smart pro came and fixed them. We are still waiting for the 650 Amp-hours X 24 volts lithium batteries stuck somewhere in Port of Spain. 9 days till splash and dash to Antigua, 48 hours sail north. Timing is a nail biter. If we make it with time to spare we may stop in Martinique for fois gras, rhum and wine.


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Well-Known Member
I haven't been sailing here in California since last March when I bought my Banshee and took it to Tomales Bay. Both it and my Sunfish are sitting in the backyard, covered up and waiting to go. We can sail year round here and I've had some of the best days in fall and winter. When I'm in Wisconsin and stay in the boathouse, everything is right in front of me, which spoils me. Here's me in my Banshee last March. I need to get my boats in the water out here!


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Well-Known Member
Loaded Skipper's 1965 ALCORT named WAVE, weather is looking favorable tomorrow and Skipper feels recovered enough from her back injury to try a few tacks.

View attachment 54071

Well, I hope the Skipper gets out on WAVE a few more times this year. That is a beautiful restoration, Signal Charlie.

I thought we were done with the season here in Michigan, but I was pleasantly surprised by a series of 74 degree-weather days (after having snow earlier in the week!!) So, I thought I'd try the NOS Super Sunfish sail I recently bought from a Marina that was closing shop. You may notice that I removed the bulky Super Sunfish traveler and mounted a hockey puck stand on the lip of the cubby so that I could switch between a ratchet block (when using the Sunfish rig) and the fiddle block w becket (when using the Super Sunfish rig). The Super Sunfish rig also includes a cam cleat on the fiddle block (which you can see I also removed), as I find that the mainsheet gets locked in far too easily and I really want to avoid capsizing the Super with the extra long mast. I believe the two-piece Super mast will fill with water much quicker than the semi-sealed standard Sunfish mast which may be extra challenging to right if capsized.

Winds were 16-25 today.

I've noticed some differences in the experience sailing with the Super Sunfish cat rig vs. the standard Sunfish lateen rig:
  1. The Super points better (which was to be expected)
  2. The Super-rigged boat is slightly slower than the same boat with a std Sunfish rig (race sail). The Super rig is only 65 sq ft., so that's to be expected.
  3. Weather helm is less pronounced in the Super. I believe the center of force is further forward on the Super's cat rig vs. on the standard Sunfish lateen.
  4. The Super seems to tack more quickly. In high winds and waves, I am more easily 'in irons' with the std. Sunfish. That rarely seems to happen with the Super. I'm not sure I can explain why.

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Well-Known Member
Weston, nice conversion on your Super. And we like the sponge.
Ahh. That yellow thing that looks like a sponge is actually a swim paddle. I have a collapsible paddle lake to the inside of the cubby, but I’ve found for most situations the strap-on swim paddle works great to maneuver the Sunfish near the dock or navigating through the canal to the boat launch.

here’s a close up of the paddles on amazon


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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Yahoo! Skipper got back out sailing the Sunfish today, 1965 ALCORT WAVE was her choice, powered by a 1984 Riviera sail. She is very happy because after her back injury in March she wasn't sure if she'd be able to sail again. Nice day on Burwell Bay, James River. High 60s and water temp not too bad in the shoal, I waded out to be the photo buoy. Winds 6-8 knots


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In case you're confused about WAVE, she is a 1965 ALCORT, originally solid blue deck. Audrey's Aunt had the boat in Hawaii, and we acquired WAVE in 1994. Audrey's Dad Capn Jack painted the deck with Interlux Brightside Medium Blue, added wide double stripes to the bow and stern and found the 1984 Riviera style sail. He also added the blood stripe down the side as tribute to my Marine Corps service.

Jack WAVE back yard  2012.jpg

We've sailed WAVE in Corpus Christi Bay, East Bay in NW Florida and now she has a sniff of the Chesapeake and Atlantic waters. Well traveled. We converted the rudder when we were in Florida, gave her a Barrington board, sheet hangers and swivel cam cleat. Skipper eschews any cleat, even the original open fairlead. I am lazy and like the swivel cam that AMF used.



WAVE was the first Sunfish to ride on the 6x12 Carry On trailer. While the trailer is overkill, WAVE road smooth. And the trailer/dolly combo is not overkill on my back, not once did I have to lift WAVE, from her spot in the Sunfish Shack to the water and all the way back.


For short hauls here is how we like to tied down the hull and spars, using the halyard, sheet and bowline to our advantage. The bow line helps keep the boat/dolly from sliding forward. And the short blue line is useful to keep the bow nestled in the V Brace when bumping around the yard, we keep the line tied to the Dynamic Dolly,


Old towel to pad the spars and sail. Marlin hitch for the halyard, sometimes we run the halyard through the halyard block as we hitch our way back. The first boat strap is positioned behind the cleat to keep the boat from sliding aft.


The next strap keeps the boat from sliding forward. We're picking up the marlin hitch with the mainsheet now.


Another old towel and strap aft. A spar bag is on order from SLO Sail and Canvas, that will be good for long hauls. We could also lay the spars on the trailer deck, they fit diagonally on the ride to the beach.


Our Marine Traffic Control Board, kind of like the strip board that air traffic controllers use, is updated. The top boat was out for the the most recent mess about. SMEDLEY needs repair, and the wooden ALCORTs TRACKER, ZIP and WINNIE are scheduled up next.


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