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First time on the water

Mashmaster

Active Member
My son took his Sunfish out on the water yesterday. My son had a great time. There is a link here of a save he had:
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And of course there was damage on the first day.....
  • The metal loop for the traveler ripped out of the deck of the boat. So I will have to put in an access port that I wasn't planning to put in.
  • The main sheet was missing so we had to make due with a random line I had.
  • The hitch that connects the halyard to the upper spar came undone twice, what is the proper hitch for connecting the halyard?
  • The current setup on a pulley to a standing cleat on the cockpit lip was non-optimal. So we will be swapping out the pulley for a swivel cam on the deck.
  • backing up the trailer, I can't see it at all and I jack knifed it on the ramp and damaged my bumber.....booo. Is the a good way to add something the trailer so I can see it while backing?
 

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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
How old is the boat? Those bridle straps very rarely fail!

Use a clove hitch on the upper spar. It is super simple to tie

A ratchet block (aka pulley in non-nautical terms) is vastly superior to a rotating swivel cam. Less friction and using a cleat isn’t necessary and invites capsizes and poor sail trim.

Maybe put a flag on a stick and stick it in the rudder fitting for backing up? Or have someone watch you and tell you what is going on back there?
 

Charles Howard

Active Member
Can you post pictures? Did the bridle strsp pull all the way out or is one screw still holding. If one screw is still holding the wood block is still attached. I have filled and redrilled. Do you have s pulley or a rachet for the sheet?
 

Mashmaster

Active Member
OK with pictures. I have a backup camera, it doesn't work well when backing the boat from the angle it is at.

I also added a picture of the original location for the drain plug that the previous owner moved. I am hoping it is just covered and I can uncover it and put a new plug in it.

It looks like the bridle attachment was moved in the past, I see no backing wood under the hole.
 

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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
That is a good ratchet block. The switch on the side should be set so it only turns when you pull in. It should not then when you are sheeting out. If you must have cleats look at the boat with red trim and the red/aqua/purple sail here Sunfish mainsheet cleat question. That lets you easily cleat and unclear while hiked out.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
I have a van so I keep the back hatch flipped up. You really need to see the back of
of trailer at all times backing up. If you vehicle sucks if in visibility department take
a couple PVC Pipes and attach vertically to each rear corner of the trailer. You'll see
that a lot for small fishing boat trailers with lights on the top of each post for night
fishing.

If the bridle attachments pulled out of the deck the other attachments will probably
follow soon. Time for stainless steel bolts and fender washers all around.

Something like a Rolling Hitch Knot works. Lots of variations in the Clove Hitch
family. Use electrical tape wrapped around the spar on each side of the knot
to keep the knot from slipping up or down the spar. Anyway, nothing better than
memorizing a few more knots to add to you skills. It separates the true mariners
for the 'Credit Card Sailors.'
 

Mashmaster

Active Member
My son is a Sea Scout, so he really knows his knots. His skipper did the rolling hitch the first time and it gave way under sail, and his later on did as well. It might be because the line was wet when he tied his up.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Be sure the hitch has the line going around the boom clockwise when looking from the top to the bottom. Wet line should not matter if the knot is good, which makes me think they may have put the line around the boom the wrong way.
 

tag

my2fish

I made this a while back - 3/8" rod with a tennis ball. I wouldn't drive highway speeds with it, but put it on to help with backing up.
a couple drilled holes with cotter pins keep it in place on the Sunfish's rudder bracket.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Also, have them leave a bit of a tail when they tie the hitch, then tie a stopper knot in the tail to prevent the hitch from untying itself.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
Aluminum spar does not provide much friction to keep the wraps
from turning. Try a few extra wraps around to increase friction area.
I think the knot was created assuming you're tying around a wooden
post.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
In just a few seconds, my big-boat sailor/engineer buddy ( :cool: ) came up with this simple solution: tie a bowline, leaving a one-foot loop. Lay it over the upper spar three times, then run the bitter end through the loose end of the loop.
Fullscreen capture 7302018 82250 AM.bmp.jpg
Not only does it grip tightly under tension, but slides easily (when relaxed) to adjust the sail's height off the deck.

Have I mentioned my big-boat sailor/engineer buddy is a know-it-all, and is very annoying? :confused:

.
 

Sailflow

Active Member
If you do put a port in you might want to position it so if you want to upgrade the rudder later so it would work for that also. That looks like a pre 71 boat if the stripes are original. If you uncover the drain and the mounting is still there the plug was attached by a chain. There are several people on the forums who can supply parts. Looks like it was nice sailing. When a puff comes like that ease the sail, hike hard and trim the sail back in. The ratchet block is great for doing that.
 

Mashmaster

Active Member
If you do put a port in you might want to position it so if you want to upgrade the rudder later so it would work for that also. That looks like a pre 71 boat if the stripes are original. If you uncover the drain and the mounting is still there the plug was attached by a chain. There are several people on the forums who can supply parts. Looks like it was nice sailing. When a puff comes like that ease the sail, hike hard and trim the sail back in. The ratchet block is great for doing that.
That is my plan. I will put the port in the center aft just forward of the rudder attachment bracket so I can swap the rudder in the future. Although this rudder seemed to work well in his opinion. He has sailed a bunch of Sunfish with his ship but mostly ones from the 80's. This boat is a 1970 I think.

The problem with hiking currently is that he is only 14 and not tall yet and we haven't figured a way to mount a hiking strap on the boat yet. So he can only hike out so far before falling in the water. I think I will have to put inspection ports on the fore and aft walls of the cockpit to mount the attachment hardware. Unless there is a better way.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
That's awesome, congratulations on the sail!

STOP! Be very careful with that bridle eyestrap. Leave the one screw in and probe around the other hole with a paper clip to see if there are any remnants of a wooden backer block in there. If there is you may be able to go one screw size bigger, and put toothpicks in the hole with waterproof glue. Or fill the reamed out hole with thickened epoxy and set the screw into that when it dries. If the backer block is gone then you'll need to put in the inspection port or split the seam to replace the blocks. If you put in a port you'll need to chisel away part of the internal foam blocks to get to the wooden blocks, the little bit you take out will not be enough to cause concern.

For the halyard we simply wrap the spar 3 times and tie 2 half hitches. Hasn't come loose yet, easy to tie. Recommended hitch is the clove hitch, which I can't remember how to tie :)

We enjoy swivel cam cleats on all of our boats but we do not race.

Use you mirrors to help out while backing. If you can see your trailer in either mirror, it is starting to get crooked.
 

Mashmaster

Active Member
That's awesome, congratulations on the sail!

STOP! Be very careful with that bridle eyestrap. Leave the one screw in and probe around the other hole with a paper clip to see if there are any remnants of a wooden backer block in there. If there is you may be able to go one screw size bigger, and put toothpicks in the hole with waterproof glue. Or fill the reamed out hole with thickened epoxy and set the screw into that when it dries. If the backer block is gone then you'll need to put in the inspection port or split the seam to replace the blocks. If you put in a port you'll need to chisel away part of the internal foam blocks to get to the wooden blocks, the little bit you take out will not be enough to cause concern.

For the halyard we simply wrap the spar 3 times and tie 2 half hitches. Hasn't come loose yet, easy to tie. Recommended hitch is the clove hitch, which I can't remember how to tie :)

We enjoy swivel cam cleats on all of our boats but we do not race.

Use you mirrors to help out while backing. If you can see your trailer in either mirror, it is starting to get crooked.
Thanks, I will try to find it. I have my doubts I can find it.

I'll give the knot a try, actually my son will.

Swivel cleat is in now.

BTW, I bought your book and my son and I enjoyed the pictures and commentary.
 

leob1

Member
These things will change you life: trailer balls
Before I had the backup camera, I used these to back up to the trailer.
And I put the on the trailer before I backed the empty trailer down the ramp.
 
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Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
He should be able to put his toes under the opposite side of the cockpit. I would wear sneakers or boots. Works well, old sunfish have really strong cockpit lips, we all did this before hiking straps were legal.
Only works if you have long legs. I was never able to hike comfortably by doing that.
 

Mashmaster

Active Member
That's awesome, congratulations on the sail!

STOP! Be very careful with that bridle eyestrap. Leave the one screw in and probe around the other hole with a paper clip to see if there are any remnants of a wooden backer block in there. If there is you may be able to go one screw size bigger, and put toothpicks in the hole with waterproof glue. Or fill the reamed out hole with thickened epoxy and set the screw into that when it dries. If the backer block is gone then you'll need to put in the inspection port or split the seam to replace the blocks. If you put in a port you'll need to chisel away part of the internal foam blocks to get to the wooden blocks, the little bit you take out will not be enough to cause concern.
No luck on having the wood backer block. So I guess I will be putting in the inspection port right in front of the rudder attachment and working my way to the hole. What kind and size wood should I use?
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
If you can reach it, maybe thru bolt it with some larger fender washers. I epoxied an aluminum plate and tapped a screw into that.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Make sure to leave room for the outer ring of the port when cutting that hole. Most likely you will trim off some of the backer block for the horizontal hinge plate when you go in there. And maybe hit a blob of excessive expanding foam. Check out our blog post if you don't have our Manual.

For wood backer blocks we have used mahogany, oak or cypress. The challenge with the oak or mahogany is predrilling to make sure they do not split. We prefer cypress or even pine and put a coat of epoxy on the block, and glue the block in place with epoxy.

There is a slim chance you will find the old block and it will be good enough to reuse, with hole drilled in a different spot or filled with epoxy. The block remnants might be captured in the expanding foam or rattling around inside the hull. We have been able to lift the bow of a boat and get the blocks to slide aft, where we could remove them, but pad the rudder fittings on the transom before lifting the boat.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I don't know if Signal Charlie likes this idea, but member Light and Variable Winds has recommended using sections of a reasonably thick polyethylene cutting board as a backer. Instead of driving a wood screw into it, you through bolt it with a nut and washer inside the hull. I think that sounds like a good idea - it will never rot!!
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
There are some PVC materials at Lowes and Home Depot that might make good backer plates, with marine grade stainless hardware. I haven't tried them with wood screws.
 

Sailflow

Active Member
While you have the bridle apart you could switch to the two loop which spreads the load between both straps. If you do switch only undo one screw on the strap and other screw holds the block.
 

Dennis Connor

New Member
Swivel cleat is in now.
Have your son be careful with the swivel cleat the first few times out. Even on a little boat like the Sunfish, once the boat starts tipping, if the sheet is cleated it can be hard to uncleat.

Back when I was designing the Stars and Stripes catamaran, I had the idea of using a swivel cleat. Before installing it on S and S, I tried it out on a Hobie Cat. Here is a shot from a helicopter of me unable to get the sheet uncleated! I had the remaining negatives destroyed, but suffice it to say the end result wasn’t pretty. Then and there I decided no swivel cleat for Stars and Stripes!973D6924-447C-492F-8CCB-EAD58F4940D7.jpeg
 

Mashmaster

Active Member
Have your son be careful with the swivel cleat the first few times out. Even on a little boat like the Sunfish, once the boat starts tipping, if the sheet is cleated it can be hard to uncleat.

Back when I was designing the Stars and Stripes catamaran, I had the idea of using a swivel cleat. Before installing it on S and S, I tried it out on a Hobie Cat. Here is a shot from a helicopter of me unable to get the sheet uncleated! I had the remaining negatives destroyed, but suffice it to say the end result wasn’t pretty. Then and there I decided no swivel cleat for Stars and Stripes!View attachment 30330
Will do, all the sunfishes he learned on had a swivel cleat so it feels natural for him now.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
On a heavy wind day when you don't plan to use the cam cleat, you can run the sheet the opposite way through the fairlead, so it comes in on the cleat side. That leaves yo free to use the swivel and fairlead.
 
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