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Hole in spine/keel; repair guidance needed!

Aaegoavil

New Member
Hi all,

I recently inherited an AMF 1974 sunfish. I want to repair it and make it water worthy, but it has a huge hole in the spine. I am excited for this DIY project and obviously have time to read up since I need to dry the boat for a while. I have gone through the forum, FAQ and knowledge base but I can't find a thread discussing repairing a hole like mine. I am planning on putting two 5" ports on the bow and stern respectively and a 6" behind the splashguard. The concerning thing about the hole I am dealing with is that it is right below the cockpit, so I am not sure I will be able to fit my hand to fiberglass from the inside.

So I guess, question for the group. What do you all recommend for dealing with such a hole? Try to fiberglass from the inside? Cut a whole section and rebuild? Or some other solution?

Thanks in advance for the help!
 

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wjejr

Active Member
Hi all,

I recently inherited an AMF 1974 sunfish. I want to repair it and make it water worthy, but it has a huge hole in the spine. I am excited for this DIY project and obviously have time to read up since I need to dry the boat for a while. I have gone through the forum, FAQ and knowledge base but I can't find a thread discussing repairing a hole like mine. I am planning on putting two 5" ports on the bow and stern respectively and a 6" behind the splashguard.
Hi Aaegoavil,

Unless there are super compelling reasons to add the bow and stern ports, my advice would be to not do it. IMHO, boats that look like they are related to Swiss cheese are just not attractive. Those ports, at least to me, also just scream, "Problems!"

I had to put an inspection port in the stern of my boat to repair the backing block for the rudder deck-plate, and every time I look at that port I think, "I can't wait until I have the time to get rid of it." I kept the cutout, figuring one day I could put it back the way it was, but putting it back is going to require a ton of work. Sunfish are simple, clean, and attractive boats, and that port just makes my boat look ugly, and even though I keep the boat covered, it has yellowed making it all the worse.

On the other hand, I do have one inspection port behind the coaming, that I find extremely useful for storing my keys, phone, line, etc. as well as being able to dry out the boat. For some reason it doesn't bother me there. I think it's because that one gets used everytime I go sailing while the other is really nothing more than a removable patch.

Looking at the damage on your boat, I think you should be able to get at from the outside. Hard to tell, but I don't even think you could get at it from the inside, and I would never, again IMHO, go through the floor of the cockpit.

If the boat is overweight, the most common reason I read here for installing multiple ports, I would just have that one port behind the coaming. If I was in a hurry, I would use a vacuum hose and periodically blow air into the bow and stern. The humid air will exit the boat past the hose. Just make sure the boat is right side up. Moist air rises.

Just my two cents, ok, maybe ten, of course. Whatever you do, good luck!
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
A winter storm picked up my "most worked-over" Sunfish and threw it against a fixed 4x4 post.
The impact left a postcard-sized hole in the keel. :eek:

I removed about one foot of keel, inserted a two-foot section of fiberglass batten, then wired the batten against the inside of the [missing] keel. I covered the damaged area with two layers of fiberglass tape—brushing on the last epoxy resin coat. After sanding and fairing, the repair didn't look very strong, but decided to paint it and sail. :rolleyes:

After a couple of seasons, the repair seems to have become a bit porous to water. :(

If there is a next time, I will prepare the surface of the keel from daggerboard trunk to transom, and add a third layer of fiberglass tape. My attempt to minimally repair the keel hadn't worked out.

Never mind how it detracted from original-appearance, the added thickness would have meant less trouble in the future, and added some strength to a part of the Sunfish that takes a beating.
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
The Shoreline method is the way to go, for sure. I also agree with wjejr about not putting in ports if you don’t have to. I used the hole in my keel to my advantage, considering it a ‘port’ when I had to dry out the boat. I put a 5” port at the stern because I wanted to add the new style rudder. (*Larger hands might go with a 6” but I prefer 5) The open deck drain also acts as a small port for air circulation.
I was hesitant to cut such a big hole in my keel, but it worked out great and the repair was solid. That boat was an ugly duckling when I bought it and a beauty when I sold it! Here’s a before and after comparison:
D3F6E38E-E75A-4C4D-95CC-EB6A51EDFCD7.jpegAF4723DF-155F-471C-BBF9-481924B33AA6.jpegD9209B44-3852-4052-A27F-CB8105ABA9E3.jpeg
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Hold the presses! :confused:

I forgot to mention, opening up this area of the keel gives an opportunity to bolt-in the anchoring fixture for a hiking strap.

(Or put in a bolt from behind, a locknut on the cockpit side, and have everyone wonder how you did it...:) )
 
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