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Is this really a Sunfish

klandingham

New Member
Hello, I am a complete newbie, and I could use some opinions.

I just bought a used boat, which I was told was a Sunfish, but I'm beginning to get a little skeptical because what I have doesn't seem to visually match anything I've seen here.

I'll post pictures soon, but let me describe the boat: white bottom, pale green deck. The bow handle looks like a simple piece of square metal stock screwed in at its ends into a recess in the deck. The coaming is molded into the deck. There is no block (nor hardware to attach one) near the mast step, nor is there any cleat aft of it. There is only a very small cleat to the right of the mast step. This cleat seems tiny given the diameter of the halyard. The cockpit is quite a bit longer than anything I've seen in pictures here. There is no drain at all in the cockpit. On either side of the cockpit, the deck has a crisscross foot grip pattern molded into it, which seems really weird to me in that I haven't seen anything like that on any Sunfish picture I have found so far.

The first time I stepped the mast into the boat, the mast didn't seem to go very deep into the hull, and I noticed that it had some circular wear marks a few inches above deck level (as if it was used in a different boat at some point in the past). I suppose those marks could have been made by the gooseneck.

I can't find a serial number anywhere on the boat. It has an old style rudder bracket with a simple bolt-wingnut arrangement. The rudder matches a picture of an "old style" rudder I've found here (no pivot at all and does not run very deep in the water.) The seller showed me that he had installed a little rubber drain plug in the lower left of the stern for "drainage". I haven't weighed it yet (don't know what to compare it to) but the boat seems awfully heavy for a Sunfish.

When I picked the boat up it appeared to have been sitting in the seller's back yard for quite some time. I strapped it deck-down to my roof racks to bring it home. That was about an hour drive and I didn't notice anything coming from the boat.

After sailing it for a few hours on a small lake and returning it to my roof rack, I noticed water dribbling out (I think from the mast step hole) whenever I would turn or brake.

I've only ever sailed once before (rented a Sunfish on a lake during vacation - that's when I got hooked), so this is probably not a fair judgement, but this boat doesn't feel as light and lively as the rental did (too heavy? waterlogged?)

I'm wondering if:

  1. This is really a Sunfish or some kind of copy.
  2. If I have a serious leak/waterlogged boat.
  3. If I should install fore and aft inspection ports (to begin drying out the inside of the hull) and a drain on one side of the beam.
Thanks for any info/advice!
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Well, it's not a Sunfish, but we will need to see pix to figure out what it is.

You will have to be more scientific to check on the leaking/waterlogged situation. Sunfish should weigh around 130. I suspect their clone relatives could weigh more, but you should balance it on its edge on a bathroom scales to get a reading, then we can discuss when you report the weight. Also, after sailing it, try draining before it goes on the roof and see what comes out.

Finally, if you were able to get it On the roof with two people it is probably not waterloggd. If it took 5 or 6 people, then the boat is clearly overweight!! BB
 

klandingham

New Member
I've attached pictures of the boat...hopefully someone can give me an idea as to what I've got. Thanks. (PS hard to see in the picture but the decking on either side of the cockpit has a tread-grip pattern.)

Bow Handle and Mast Step.jpg

Coaming.jpg

Cockpit.jpg

Deck Stern.jpg

Stern.jpg

Rudder.jpg
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
I just bought a used boat, which I was told was a Sunfish, but I'm beginning to get a little skeptical . . .
  • The bow handle looks like a simple piece of square metal stock screwed in at its ends into a recess in the deck.
  • The coaming is molded into the deck.
  • There is no block (nor hardware to attach one) near the mast step, nor is there any cleat aft of it.
  • There is only a very small cleat to the right of the mast step. This cleat seems tiny given the diameter of the halyard.
  • The cockpit is quite a bit longer than anything I've seen in pictures here.
  • There is no drain at all in the cockpit.
  • On either side of the cockpit, the deck has a crisscross foot grip pattern molded into it, which seems really weird to me in that I haven't seen anything like that on any Sunfish picture I have found so far.
  • The first time I stepped the mast into the boat, the mast didn't seem to go very deep into the hull, and I noticed that it had some circular wear marks a few inches above deck level (as if it was used in a different boat at some point in the past). I suppose those marks could have been made by the gooseneck.
  • I can't find a serial number anywhere on the boat.
  • It has an old style rudder bracket with a simple bolt-wingnut arrangement.
  • The rudder matches a picture of an "old style" rudder I've found here (no pivot at all and does not run very deep in the water.)
  • The seller showed me that he had installed a little rubber drain plug in the lower left of the stern for "drainage".
  • I haven't weighed it yet (don't know what to compare it to) but the boat seems awfully heavy for a Sunfish.
  • I'm wondering if:
    1. This is really a Sunfish or some kind of copy.
    2. If I have a serious leak/waterlogged boat.
    3. If I should install fore and aft inspection ports (to begin drying out the inside of the hull) and a drain on one side of the beam.
Great photos ... helps a bunch.

[ A, B ] As BB surmised before your pictures were up, it's not a brand name Sunfish, rather it's designed in the Sunfish style. The original Sunfish was emulated so much its name became synonymous for nearly all beach boats with that general appearance..., the Kleenex / Band-aid syndrome, formally called a genericized trade mark. I will speculate the little differences you see were the builder's way of staying out of a law suit.

[ C, D ] More individual variation. The block, or now fairlead, arrangement has some convenient facets, but is not necessary, just a cleat will suffice. The original halyard may have been replaced over the years with something larger. Put on a line of more suitable diameter if the current one is a mis-fit.

[ E, F, G ] Most of the design details speak to production efficiency for a cut-throat market. I wonder if each new boat came with a bail bucket or a sponge? With no hand rails or hiking strap, integral cockpits such as this one make reboarding after a capsize quite an exercise. New-er Sunfish now have anti-skid patterns molded into their deck too.

[ H ] A couple of pictures of the mast and mast tube in the hull might be enlightening. It sounds as though there's a mis-match here.

[ I ] If the boat were built prior to Nov. 1972, ID would depend on a builder's tag still attached somewhere. After that date the ID was required to be etched into the hull at the upper right of the transom. This hull appears in the photos to have received a heavy coat of paint on the bottom. That may have filled in the ID number.

[ J, K ] The rudder and bracket do not appear to be a good match. The rudder you are showing is from a Snark (pictured). No way of knowing what the original looked like, but it probably more resembled one found on a Howmar Phantom.


[ L ] Someone probably added this drain or replaced an existing one with something bigger. It would be a way to compensate for a leak instead of fixing it.

[ M, N ] BB summed this up nicely.

.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Is it a Mystery Fish?

Some features on Mystery Fish look rather distinct; such as:
the recessed areas where the bridle attaches
the recessed circular area at the daggerboard slot
the shape of the splashrail and the cockpit
the raised area around the mast tube
the recessed area for the bow handle


The drain in the stern looks like it was added later.
The rudder bracket may also be an add-on

Wayne already commented on some other oddities.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
Is it a Mystery Fish?
These websites list some of the Sunfish-like mystery boats, however, there are many more unknowns than knowns.


ShortyPen.com – Board Boat Sailboat Guide

Sailing Texas - Sailboat Photo Gallery

Sunfish_Sailor Owners Support Group – Clonefish List
(free to join, post, and download information)

Sail Insignia Guide (incomplete) a pdf file

FiberGlassics
(many motorboat companies briefly put out a beach boat – search the catalogs from ‘60 – ‘80)

Jibslist - database of 15,000 sailboats


. . . or just clean up what you’ve found, name it after yourself, and enjoy sailing. Most any of the support groups like this one can help since even if not exact, most of the boats are very similar.

.
 

klandingham

New Member
Thank you all for the interesting information and insights. Great stuff, and fascinating.

One other question if I may:

While moving the boat around the other day I noticed that I could hear some material clunking around inside the hull when I stand the boat on one beam end then the other.

Now I would imagine that determining exactly what sort of material something is merely by hearing the noise it makes inside a hull would be quite the art form --- one which I'm sure I do not have. However, I think I can state with some certainty that it isn't rocks. Rather, it sounds like some sort of heavy padding, possibly wet.

I know I'm the paranoid new boat owner, but could this be delaminated fiberglass?

My plan is to go ahead and install inspection ports at the bow and stern...if there is any
reason why I shouldn't do that, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

Thanks again for the helpful information and advice.
 

Geophizz

Member
Your picture look almost identical to a boat that I can across a few years ago, that I've never seen another reference for. It was called A "Marburg 14", made in somewhere in Florida. The name tag was up near the mast step. If I can dig out my pictures of it, I'll post them here.

Wayne, you're a genius. I've looked on the net for a while without success to find out about the boat, and you provide the proper link! I found a link that will help identify if the boat actually is a Marburg 14: http://www.jibslist.com/Specifications.aspx?boatid=17040&boatname=MARBURG+14&frompage=BoatList
 
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Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Thank you all for the interesting information and insights. Great stuff, and fascinating.

One other question if I may:

While moving the boat around the other day I noticed that I could hear some material clunking around inside the hull when I stand the boat on one beam end then the other.

I think I can state with some certainty that it isn't rocks. Rather, it sounds like some sort of heavy padding, possibly wet.

I know I'm the paranoid new boat owner, but could this be delaminated fiberglass?

My plan is to go ahead and install inspection ports at the bow and stern...if there is any
reason why I shouldn't do that, I'd appreciate hearing about it.
I doubt it's delaminated fiberglass. More likely some part of the internal (foam?) structure. The inspection ports that you are planning to install might lead you to resolve your dilemma.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
It was called A "Marburg 14", made in somewhere in Florida. The name tag was up near the mast step. If I can dig out my pictures of it, I'll post them here.
Cool... I checked the USCG database, no listing. So they pre-dated the government Hull ID program started back in Nov of 1972.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Geophizz wins the prize!

Excellent detective work; thanks from all of us.
And the picture even has the factory ID :)

PS: I would hate to have to climb back in after a capsize on a windy day; it all looks slippery to me; only a strap to grab, but you need (fairly) long arms to reach it...
 

klandingham

New Member
Whoa that is my boat alright! Awesome.

Re: the last comment. Sorry to say, that I did take boat out today and capsized it - not a good experience: the spars sank and lodged into the muddy bottom (marsh waters), and when I tried to right the boat by applying pressure to the daggerboard...it snapped in two :(.

This all happened about 1000 feet from the landing I was heading for...so I had a nice large audience watching me fumble around. Finally a nice fellow with a powerboat offered to tow my "wreck" in.

In my defense: it was a gusty day!

I guess what the fellow says is correct: "It's better to be standing on the dock wishing you were on your boat, than on your boat wishing you were standing on the dock."

Now off to shop for a decent daggerboard!

Thanks friends...
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
Sorry to say, that I did take boat out today and capsized it - not a good experience: the spars sank and lodged into the muddy bottom (marsh waters), and when I tried to right the boat by applying pressure to the daggerboard...it snapped in two :(
Ugh..., sorry to hear that.

An empty plastic jug or swim noodle attached to the upper spar can help prevent this

:eek: (now they tell me)

I started a new thread on the topic of getting un-stuck... http://www.sunfishforum.com/showthread.php?t=34033

.
 

Harbor

New Member
A full Google, Craigslist and EBay search and this is the ONLY thread on the internet I have been able to find on this boat!
I just traded for one 2 weeks ago. Traded a 17' Wilderness Systems kayak for a Marburg 14 with 2 sails (Original Marburg with logo and a newer one he had bought) and a dolly. I feel like I did very well in the trade.

The only thing wrong with the boat, that I am aware of, is it was missing the dagger board (he lost it when he capsized it). He did supply a Sunfish board that was a bit too thick, but my father-in-law has since shaved it down to fit and is refinishing it (nice to have a former boat builder in the family!)

I have not sailed it yet - nor even spent much time with it. The boat went home with my father-in-law and we plan to spend the week with him the week of July 4th (he is water front). So looking forward to that.

This will be my first Sunfish type boat. I have always wanted one. I owned a 14' Hobie for a little while but not living on the water, it was just too much of a PITA for me to tow and rig for a days sailing alone.

If anyone else knows anymore about these boats, please let me know. Where the serial number normally would be is just the manufacturers name so he had guessed it was a prototype. Based on maybe only 2 being in existence - maybe that is true?
 

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klandingham

New Member
Hey, that's a nice looking boat! Makes mine look more like a POJ. Yours looks like it was much better taken care of. Interesting to see what I assume are the original sails, too. That rudder is shaped very much like the one supplied with mine - I would recommend replacing it with a Sunfish pivoting type. Cheers.
 

photocastle

New Member
I've attached pictures of the boat...hopefully someone can give me an idea as to what I've got. Thanks. (PS hard to see in the picture but the decking on either side of the cockpit has a tread-grip pattern.)

View attachment 5832

View attachment 5833

View attachment 5834

View attachment 5835

View attachment 5836

View attachment 5837
Yes! I have one. My father purchased ours new in the early mid 70's from the builder, we lived in Potomac, MD. I still have the boat and sail it. There is a little plate on the rear transom to the left of the rudder fixture with "SAILBOATS UNLIMITED" embedded in the fiberglass. But I remember my father mentioning Marburg 14. It is really well built. The Castle worked well for us too, as that is our family name.P5261212.jpegPA090257.jpegPA090266.jpegPA090288.jpegPA090290.jpeg
 
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