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How many inspection ports?


New Member
I've got an old pre-1972 sunfish in desperate need of refurbishing. I'm planning on: (a) doing a rudder upgrade; (b) adding a hiking strap; (c) adding a ratchet block in place of 'the hook'; and (d) drying out the hull over the winter.

I know I'll need an inspection/access port aft (for the rudder) and forward (for drying it out and installing the block)--but will I need another for installing the hiking strap?


New Member
You actually don't need a port for putting in the block, but you will need one for installing a hiking strap. You can either put one in just forword of the board trunk, or you could even put in vertically in the cockpit. But to do all of that it should only take 2 ports


New Member
Does putting an inspection port on the deck of the "fish" compromise the structural integrity of the hull?

Alan Glos

Active Member
Bill k,

In a word, no. Many Sunfish have inspection ports with no structural problems. The most common location is centered between the forward edge of the dagger board slot and the after edge of the "v" of the splashrail, and I have never seen structural problems as a result.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY


New Member
I've seen inspection ports on the deck and in the cockpit or footwell. Which place gives the most flexibility for servicing or fixing leaks? I'm interested in installing a hiking strap on my 82' fish.


It sounds like two ports will give access for everything you listed.

The central port behind the coaming will provide good air circulation for maintaining a dry hull. It will also provide a way to reach the forward bulkhead of the cockpit tub so you can attach a backing plate and ny-lock nuts for the forward hiking strap securing bolts.

A strategically positioned rear port can give you access for both your rudder upgrade and securing the backing for the rear hiking strap attachment.

You may want to calculate your reach and locate the aft port in a more rearward than centered position. This is because the rudder upgrade will need more attention to detail than the simple installation of a backing plate and two nuts for the hiking strap attachment.

As was pointed out earlier, your ratchet block will be secured through the forward cockpit lip and no access to the inner hull area is required in that case.

Murphy’s Law says future leaks will appear just beyond the reach from any port installed preemptively. Seriously, fixing most of the usual leak points doesn’t benefit from inspection port access unless they turn out to be serious separations at the dagger board slot or mast tube.

If you suspect a problem now, do a leak test before cutting any port holes so you can include the knowledge in your port placement choices.

Leak test info can be seen at this web page: http://www.windline.net/proj4.htm


New Member
Thanks...I really appreciate all the information and help these message boards provide to me and the sailling community!


We found that the "front & rear" port configuration worked best at drying out a boat. The area around the cockpit sides (the floor is bonded to the outer hull) leaves little room of air circulation unless there is a entry/exit in both areas where the air can be "forced" from front to back or vice versa.

And in my case where the boat "lives" during the summer is on a pretty steep sloped beach where any water accumulates in the rear of the boat and the rear port allows me to sponge it out easily.


On a pre '72 SF (ie: without the rear storage compartment) you will need a 4" port in the rear wall of the cockpit. Mine is centered vertically and inline with the bailer. After installing the port and the hiking strap, I have not opened it again.