Family daysailer vs 2nd Sunfish

Thread starter #1
I've been wanting to get a daysailer so that my wife and daughter and I can all go out together. (Cramming all 3 of us in the SF is a squeeze, and I wouldn't want to do it in anything but a light breeze). But this weekend I went motorboating with friends on a 16 mile long lake, beautiful day, nice stiff breeze. We saw innumerable motorboats, one antique yawl, and 3 sunfish on the water. Lost track of how many daysailers were sitting docked or moored - none of them were out sailing.

It got me wondering - was that just coincidence, or is it that it is just so much easier to go sailing whenever you want with a boat that can be rigged and launched in less than 5 minutes? Would I be better off getting a second sunfish (my wife can sail) , and taking the family out that way? Do you have a daysailer also, and do you find that you end up using it, or parking it in favor of the SF most of the time?


Very Senior Member
I have a C-15 and a Laser. The Laser is mine, but the grandkids use it more than I. The C-15 is for when I want 2 or 3 out there with me.

I think you'll find the daysailors are only interested in racing, for the most part, and then only if they have a fleet nearby. Otherwise they don't see lots and lots of use. However, if you want a simple to rig boat that all of you can go out on, something in the C-15, Vanguard 15, or like animals would be good. Plan on a capsize or two here and there.

If you can keep the mast up at a club, then a Highlander, Flying Scott, Lightning, Thistle, etc etc etc might be a better choice. I'd hate to think I had to rig the mast every time I wanted to sail one of these boats, however I can rig my C-15 in 20 minutes. And it doesn't blow over on the dock while I am trying to launch it :rolleyes:..
If I were you, I'd get the Daysailer. I always had more luck getting my family out on my Osprey (O'Day's Predecessor to the DaySailer) than on my Sunfish. I even got my 80+ year old grandmother into it a couple of times. I could rig it from mast down on the trailer to under way in about 15 minutes. I found to be easier than rigging a Laser. The family stopped sailing when I sold it. A Daysailer would be the boat that I'd pick for family sling. There's plenty of storage under the bow, and some room at the stern for stretching out. A Scot is bigger and seems more stable, but it takes a little longer to rig, plus the long centerboard trunk, big rear deck and lack of a cuddy at the bow makes it a little bit cramped for pleasure sailing,despite its larger size.
I have a newport 15 also it takes only about 10 min to step mast and hoist sails not bad at all but should u get wet it will take a while to get it back up and dried out enough to get back in ! Oh yea it loves to turttle and then it takes two adults and some @&$" words to get it back over.Making it a fixed keel as we speak. Gota love a fish its worrie free !


Well-Known Member
I sold two of my three catamarans, including a Tornado :cool: and now have three Sunfish. :) The remaining catamaran—the fastest being a "Matrix"—has vines growing up the shrouds. :(

An Illinois friend just bought a perfect O'Day Day-Sailer for $500. I wrote him "Sail it like you stole it". :p


Upside down?
Staff member
This thread is a bit confusing (to me at least) because there are 'generic' daysailers such as the Capri, FS, etc. and there is the 'official' Day Sailer (, which is a one-design class.

Anyway, I think your family will be happy in a more spacious, relatively stable, boat. Suggestions are in the prior posts.
Hi Stricd,

You said what you wanted in your first sentence -- to all go together. You already have a SF and that is wonderful, but a type of "day sailer" -- be it an O'Day Daysailer (LOA = 16'9") or another make of sloop-rigged boat, would, I think, suit your need very well. I have to have different boats, for different needs. I have an O'Day Ospray (talk to me, Geophiz!) that is LOA 15' 8" (or 15' 9") and used that for sailing in a salt water bay with some stiff wind and chop. Sometimes I want a dry boat.

While a lot of people with the O'Day Daysailer do like to race, there are many who use it as a family boat. People with the DS I or II or III (see the forums for more info about O'Day Daysailers) enjoy it's versatility. They've posted that the young ones can snooze in the open cuddy while underway. These and other day sailer type of boats can be found for little money, especially if you're willing to do a bit of TLC or restorative work. Often that includes removing the older crumbled or soggy foam floatation and replacing it with closed cell foam like pool noodles.

Where we live there is only a relatively small (<100 acre) pond and when I want to go with someone sizable and tall (DH), I take a CL 14 -- double chined, sloop rigged sailing dinghy that's just right for small ponds but which I also plan to take in some salt water bays (my preference). The CL 14 (the company in Ontario also makes a CL 16) is well made, responsive and easy to rig. Our Ospray was sort of inexpensive, but needs a lot of TLC to look nice and the mast is about 23-25' tall, so I don't go trying to step it myself. A good many people get the mast tabernacle kit so the mast is hinged and much easier to step.

What sort of waters do you sail in? And remember, your daughter is going to grow like a sprout, so something like a 14' to 17' sailboat would be a good bet. This time of year and in fall you might spot some good buys. Last year I almost jumped on a Newport 20 (Lockley Newport sloop) for cheap.

Feel free to run any boat types past anyone here. I'll be a lot of members have dry sloops in addition to their SFs. In any case, let us know what you decide and show us photos ;)

Now, believe it or not, I am still trying to figure out just how to repair the two (Port and Starboard) cracks in my dear SF. I've read the forum and others, but cannot figure out if I should make the wound bigger and do a layered job, or, since it just seems to be the gel coat that fractured, it I can "V" groove the cracks and remove the fractured gel coat and just address the situation with gel coat. If anyone would take a look at the photos I posted in a post a few weeks ago, and set me on the right track, I'd be very appreciative.

Smooth sailing, everyone!
Petrel, you're the first Ospray owner that I've run into in 30 years! It's a really nice little boat. I had to sell mine to pay for tuition but I wish I never did. I got more use out of the boat than out of the diploma.
i recommend the 2-sunfish deal. i bought my first one in '94 after i sold my tanzer 16 (which i loved! but it took tool long to rig and required assistance to step the mast.) in '08 i bought my second sunfish. most of the time i sail either boat alone or with my wife. when there's three or four people the second boat goes in. its sooo much more fun to rig fast and get going then it is to labor over a larger boat.
So what did you decide? Boats tend to be cheaper in the autumn.

Geophizz -- sorry to take so long to get back here. Sorry to hear you had to sell your Ospray. I'd love to see pics of it.
Over the years I've met a few folks with Osprays; and seen several for sale on Craigslist. And, speak of the devil, there looks to be a good buy on one with trailer and extras. I'll try to send you the link. My Ospray has issues (foredeck cracked in -- but I love the yellow gelcoat deck. What color was yours? I may end up selling mine as I've got too many toys and it needs some work; but I am very attached to her, so, who knows.
Mine was white with a blue and yellow deck, and blue and white stripes down the sides. I've only got a couple of photos stashed in the attic somewhere. I was too busy sailing to take pictures. It's been so long since I sold it that I was trying to explain to my son how it was rigged and I realized that I had forgotten.
Thread starter #12
At this point I've pretty much decided to go with something like an O'Day Daysailer for boat #2. That way everybody can be together when we go out, and it doesn't sound like they are to much of a pain to rig and get in and out of the water. Plus my dog - a big 75 lb. standard poodle - has decided he likes sailing (makes for an interesting day on the sunfish), so he would be able to go too.


New Member
Makes sense! Hope you find something that will be fun for all of you...
Just read all these. I have a SF on a 1400 acre lake and am about to purchase a 15 foot mariner so that my wife can join me on sails. Of course, I'm keeping the SF. The daysailer will be moored at my camp and the rigging will stay all summer. I was worried when someone mentioned turtling as my wife would not go for that. Are daysailers more susceptible to flipping that SF?

Please give me some good stories about having both the SF and the day sailer.
I have a 1976 O'Day Day Sailer II that I have had for several years. It is a very good solid boat. As has been mentioned, there are other boats referred to as daysailers. One of the advantages of the Day Sailer class is that the boats are still in production and so accessability of parts is good. Although O'Day went out of business in the late 80's, the current builder of the Day Sailer is Cape Cod Shipbuilding. D&R Marine also sells parts for Day Sailers. The boats have been in continous production from 1957 to present. Day Sailer I's are a little faster than the Day sailer II's and III's. There are many used boats around. The Day Sailer Association forum is very active and is free to jion the forum.

I use my DS for some light racing, but mostly for daysailing and camp cruising (sail camping). I have sailed my boat on the Texas 200 several times (Texas 200 is a 200 mile 5 day sail up the Texas coast). There is a enough storage space on board for gear and supplies for a few days camp cruising. The cockpit is large enough for 3 or 4 without a problem. A Sunfish sailor friend of mine sailed with me for a race last fall and was suprised at how much room was in the cockpit. A DS won't capsize as easily as a Sunfish, although I have managed to do it. They can be righted fairly easy. The II's and III's are classified as self righting and have self bailing cockpits (same bailer as Sunfish). A DS is more stable than the Sunfish. There is a centerboard instead of a dagger board. Sail area for main and jib is 145 Sq.Ft.

As far as turtling in case of a capsize, I have 2 feet of foam in my mast head which is sufficient to keep the boat from turtling in case of a capsize.

Jeadstx - good to see you over here too. Great advice.

To the OP: I was in your shoes. I had sailed a Sunfish on vacation for years and finally picked one up cheap for myself. My first time out in it, just once before putting it away for the winter, I distinctly recall looking back at shore to see my wife holding our infant son and my then 4 year old son beside her. At that moment I decided I should keep my eyes out for something suitable for the family. As luck would have it, a month later, I rescued a 1976 O'Day Daysailer II from a back yard. It hadn't sailed in 6-7 years and was listed as part of an estate sale. I need my now 2 year old son to get a bit older before I'll have my wife as a useful skipper on the boat and to have a relaxing family sail - for now she manages the young one and I handle the sheets and tiller. My 6 year old loves it. It doesn't get out as much as I'd like, but I hope to improve on that next summer. I actually sail my Sunfish more, as I'm sailing it in a handful of our club's races this summer. But I get the DS out too, including this coming Saturday for a moonlight cruise with my wife.

As for which family "daysailer", I like the affordability, performance, safety and looks of the O'Day Daysailer. But there are others out there of course. I've sailed our club's Scots too. Fine boats too. Perhaps a bit more comfortable (they are bigger and the benches are higher off of the hull floor). They are definitely a more expensive buy-in to go sailing than the DS.

I just realized the original post was from 2011, so I guess the question is - what did you get? :)


New Member
The boat I just purchased (or will in the spring) is a 1980s 15 foot Mariner. I don't know much more except that it has been moored about 1/4 away from my camp where I said my SF. I've always used watched the daysailer as a wind indicator and now its about to be mine. I helped get it out of the water and it looked like its in good shape. I got the boat, sails, trailer and mooring for $500. Plus he is storing it in his garage for the winter. The actual sale will take place in the spring when we take our boats back out of storage. I've seen him sail it but it usually just sits alone in the water.

I've tried to research Mariner but don't have much luck. This has seating for about 6 and a small cockpit plus a spot to attach an outboard motor if I'm so inclined.

I check in here from time to time as I purchased a Sunfish hull last year to restore and get sailing again. Finally got the hull dried out. Besides my 1976 Day Sailer II, I have a 1973 O'Day Mariner, A 1963 O'Day Rhodes 19, and a 1952 Beetle Boat Swan catboat. The R19 and the BB Swan are both restoration projects and the Sunfish will get restored along with those as time and money allow. The BB Swan has a deck stepped free standing mast, so rigging time will be minimal.


Are you sure the 15-foot boat you are looking at is called a "Mariner". The Mariner class boats are 19-footers. Is there a symbol on the sail denoting it's class identification. Someone might be able to identify it from pictures.