In over my head?

Thread starter #1
HI, all
I was hoping to introduce my daughters (13 and 15) to sailing with a Sunfish because I keep hearing it's a great starter boat. However, as I research more and more, I'm thinking maybe the sailing won't be the problem for me, but the upkeep will. Years ago I owned something called a Katyak, and all I remember is throwing it on top of the car and running to the lake. Now it looks like there's nothing out there like that, or is there? How handy does someone have to be to work one of these things?
Thanks for your input,

Hi Betsy,

The Sunfish is a great starter boat and enjoyment can last a life time. How handy you need to be depends on how old your Sunfish is and how well it was maintained. A new SF will need minimal maitainence, while an older SF will need more, depends on how much you are willing to do. Most repairs and maintainence are done with hand tools - screwdriver, drill, maybe a jig saw (for ports), mayby a pop-rivet gun, but nothing special in the way of tools. If you can use these tools and follow instructions, you can keep your SF up and running. Knowelge (ie-reading / studying) about a repair, the use of materials (epoxy, fiberglass, Marine-Tex, paint (I try not to) and other items) is probably the biggest item you will need. This Forum, The SF Class Home page (Tip and Tricks, FAQs), Yahoo Sunfish Sailor, Wind-Line Sails, Layline and others are sources of this knowelge. Don't be afraid to ask (post) questions, someone has done what ever repair you will encounter. Most repairs are pretty easy, taken a step at a time.

Cartopping is ok in the begining, but a trailer is easier on your back. Consider the age and strength of your daughters and yourself on getting a 130 lb SF on and off your vehicle. I have a trailer to carry, launch, retrive, store and as a platform to work on my SF.

For minimal maintenence, get a new or newer SF. Remember, a boat is a hole in the water, surrounded by fiberglass, into which you throw money. Good Luck
Greetings Betsy,,,

The field has thinned over the past years. Other sports have gained in popularity and the new boat cost has risen. Some sailing kayaks and canoes exist though a far cry today from what you remember. There are even lightweight play boats such as (bite my tongue) the Snark. Sunfish are in a segment of quality boats that stand up to much in the way of sailing conditions. Lighter cheaper boats don't hold up to the same riggors.

I am going to guess what you are speaking of is all the talk about fixing boats. Sunfish that are well kept rarely become the topic of conversation. You are probably seeing some of the worst cases mentioned here. Lots of these dialogues center on thirty and forty year old boats resurrected from a life of neglect. Some are reaching a time in their existance for a little refurbishment. Both instances speak well for the Sunfish enduring as long as they do.

If you select a well kept boat you will be able to avoid the repair scenario. Basic maintenance consists of keeping the boat clean and storing it dry. There are some particular care steps. These are simple and mostly just good sense. You don't need to be a fiberglass technician unless you intentionally choose a fixer-upper. I encourage you to choose something in the quality range of the Sunfish.
Hi Betsy,

I have owned numerous Sunfishes over a 40-year period and agree with Dan that they require very little care and maintenance. Unless you damage your boat, all you need is a hose and a sponge. I usually hose mine off in the Spring and again in the fall when I store it.

I stored one Sunfish in the crawl space under my house for 5 years in very damp and dirty conditions and it cleaned up in 20 minutes with some soapy water and a sponge.

Of course you have to protect the sail when you store it. The two big enemies of sails are mildew and mice.

It might be a little cosy for three people.

I strongly advise you to purchase a trailer. I have tried all sorts of Rube Goldberg contraptions to easily load a Sunfish on top of a vehicle and none of them was very satisfactory except brute strength. The trailer also gives you a place to store the boat (if you have the room). In the winter, I leave my boat on the trailer and cover it with a cheap tarp.

They also hold their resale value. If you decide you don't like it or want to move up to a larger boat you can probably sell your Sunfish for what you paid for it.

Reno, NV
Hey Betsy...

The Sunfish is what I used to teach my kids how to sail. There are not too many boats that are simpler to rig (I can have mine in the water and rigged in 5 minutes...) and they are very easy to sail. You can't go wrong with a sunfish.:)