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Looking at a 1985 Sunfish to buy

I'm a total noob here looking to learn to sail with a Sunfish. There's a local one for sale that I just went and looked at. I did read several posts on here about how to buy a Sunfish. The hull actually looks like it's good condition. I couldn't feel and depth to the scratches when I rubbed my hand across the visible scratches on the bottom. There's only one "ding" show below and it looks superficial. I filled the mast step with water but I was only there for about 20-30 minutes. The water might have gone down 1/8".

The sail is the weak point. I found a couple of small holes. How reparable are these? The fabric seems much thinner than a 1981 Hobie 16 sail that I'm familiar with. Not sure if it was originally that thin or if its weathered thin.

The wood rudder and daggerboard need some TLC but nothing major.

The EZ Load trailer is in good shape. All original paperwork is included (only 2 owners).

She's asking $700. What do y'all think?

Thanks
Dan
 

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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
To me that looks like a good deal. The sail cloth is thinner than a Hobie's, and you can get an inexpensive roll of sail repair tape to fix the hole(s).

I would weigh the boat. Tipping it on edge on a mechanical bathroom scales is the way to do that. A boat of its vintage should be between 130 and maybe 140 (and if it lighter than 130 that is a good thing.)

Plus the boat has good color scheme!
 

CaptainLarry

Active Member
From one noob to another...My $80 boat and trailer will cost me $500 (plus another $100 for the trailer) before she's ready for the water. Yours is 11 years newer. You don't have to be fussy like me. You can probably go sail her now. After my limited experience, your hull weight is most interesting to me. Offer less. She wants it gone. Save some money for sail and/or repairs and new trailer tires. Good Luck! Noob out!
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Fill the mast step again, but to overflowing. The water level shouldn't go down. That's a repair I wouldn't want to tackle; otherwise, that's a fair price. Check that cockpit damage for water intrusion, too.

Subtract $10 for sail repair tape and $22 for Thixo, 10-inch trailer tires frequently need attention. No spare tire?
From one noob to another...You can probably go sail her now. After my limited experience, your hull weight is most interesting to me. Offer less. She wants it gone. Save some money for sail and/or repairs and new trailer tires. Good Luck! Noob out!
In summary--I'd hurry back! :eek:
 
The boat looks clean and in good shape. I agree with L&VW watch the mask step carefully. If it filled with water and then became frozen, you could have major damage to the tube. Its repairable but you would have a least $100.00 in materials to repair. Good luck.
 
Fill the mast step again, but to overflowing. The water level shouldn't go down. That's a repair I wouldn't want to tackle; otherwise, that's a fair price. Check that cockpit damage for water intrusion, too.
Is it that bad of a repair? I've seen posts on this. Some people cut access ports for the repair - that's something that I don't want to do. Can 99% of cracked mast ports be repaired from the inside?
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Honestly if the water dropped 1/8 inch in a half hour, you could sail for 6 hours and you'd have maybe 2 cups of water go into the hull. That is not worth repairing. But you should weigh the boat before you buy it to be sure it is reasonably on-target weight wise.

Leaking mast steps are not that common in Sunfish, so if you are worried test again to see if it really is dropping and if so how much.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I'd get it. Plan on new tires unless you can determine that they are less that 6 years old by looking for a WWYY manufacture date on the sidewall.

If the water level went down that little then there might be a tiny leak. Most leaks we see in mast tubes come from a chip in the resin, and that is easy to fix with a paint stick and some thickened epoxy or epoxy putty. The leaks to be concerned with are the ones where the whole tube empties in a minute.

That boat should weigh around 139 pounds, a few years later they dropped to 129, so if she's lighter than 139 bonus.

As BB said, ding in cockpit no problem.

Sails of those period were soft. We like them, not as noisy as new crisp sail. Clear duct tape will keep them going fo a bit unless they are dry rotted around the grommets, and a new recreational sail can be found priced form $150 after market or used to $350 (Laser Performance). Lots of folks sell sails in here.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Can 99% of cracked mast ports be repaired from the inside?

Yes.

You pointed out some issues. What we see are nice clean spars, they appear straight with no corrosion. Same for the trim and the gelcoat seems relatively damage free. The rudder and daggerboard and hardware are genuine AMF. And the trailer could be the bonus, check the leaf, axle and shackle hardware, it will probably show some rust but look to make sure that significant metal has not flaked away. Judging by the rest of what I see on the trailer I'm guessing it's good, might need new lights, bearing grease and possibly new tires.
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
I think $700 is a great deal, especially with a trailer with papers. She can probably sell it for $1,200 easily with a wash and wax in the spring.
 

shorefun

Active Member
I would try $500 or so and see how close to $600 you can get, I always try to get a lower price. But $700 is not bad with a with documented trailer.

Not a bad deal, but you will end up at least $200 into it. You will want to probe the hole on the bottom to see how soft the fiberglass is as a proper repair would be to sand it out and lay in a small amount of glass then gelcoat. Here where a friend with all the stuff would probably let you just use it cause it only needs a small amount. You will want to sand out the wood and get either varnish or properly poly urethane clear on them.

Make sure you check what your state currently needs to do a paperwork transfer. In NJ they changed rules and required the seller notarize a bill of sale for a trailer.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
. You will want to probe the hole on the bottom to see how soft the fiberglass is as a proper repair would be to sand it out and lay in a small amount of glass then gelcoat.

You will want to sand out the wood and get either varnish or properly poly urethane clear on them.

Make sure you check what your state currently needs to do a paperwork transfer. In NJ they changed rules and required the seller notarize a bill of sale for a trailer.
I respectfully disagree about the chip in the cockpit. It may not even be worth dealing with, but some epoxy ($5 or $6 bucks) or splurge on Marine Tex ($30 - yikes) would do the trick. A gelcoat chip does not require fiberglassing and re-gelcoating.

Clear duct tape or sail repair tape will be $10. The wood could probably stand some sanding and revarnishing but I have seen much worse being successfully used. That might be $30 all in.

The trailer tires are the only that would cost a few bucks. But this boat is a deal. Prices for boats have skyrocketed during the pandemic. New Sunfish are 5 grand if you can find one, and of questionable build quality.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I now see you're in Colorado. :oops:

We've seen other Colorado buyers who've had to travel to other states to buy a used Sunfish. :confused: I'd hurry back to that Sunfish, and make a deal—or at least weigh it first. The small damage inside the cockpit is an easy fix.

Is it that bad of a repair? I've seen posts on this. Some people cut access ports for the repair - that's something that I don't want to do. Can 99% of cracked mast ports be repaired from the inside?
Not handy? Sales of the parts would recover the purchase price. You're highly unlikely to be hurt with this purchase. Too bad it's for sale—and so far from Florida! ;)

We can "walk you through" any needed repairs—or you can leave it "as-is", resell the Sunfish—and make a few bucks come Spring.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I'm so jealous of that hull weight. I can't even say I got a bonus of 56 pounds of extra hull water in trade for a $520 cost savings because my repair costs are close in line with your purchase price. But hey, we love fixing broken stuff and she's nearly ready. But you did well.
I'd like to buy brockenspectre's weight scale. ;)
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
128 seems very reasonable. Boats of that vintage seemed to vary from say 125-135.

LandVW needs to buy some newer (ie from the 80s or newer) boats than his old models! But pls not a Pearson!!
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Wow, she looks great, great buy, and will need a name soon :)

That hull would be one of the last few that AMF built, before Minstar (Loveless and DeGarmo) bought the company. Their build techniques would have been optimized for those style hulls, we had a similar 1987 with the beautiful blue hull that weighed around 130. 129 pounds became the benchmark when Pearson took over in 1988, and they changes the hull deck seam to the current rolled flange.

Is that her new home, curious about the airplane?

As for the sail, they were thin, it is similar in weight to the 1984 Riviera style sail that we have paired with our 1965 Alcort Sunfish WAVE.

Audrey WAVE inbound.jpg

There was a lot of tinkering going on with sail shapes in the 1980s and we feel that those sails have a good shape to them without being an expensive racing cut, just a little extra draft cut into the foot. As for sail repairs, the big killer on a sail is dry rot, especially around the tack. Clean that one up with some water and Dawn dishwashing liquid and see how you like it this season.
 
Is that her new home, curious about the airplane?
It's her home for now - the Toy Box. The plane is a 1955 Cessna 180, "Blue Bird". So we are thinking of naming the boat "Blue Bird 2" or "Blue Gill".



I love the unique sails (Hobie included) of the 1970's and 1980's. I wish they would be more creative today.
 
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L&VW

Well-Known Member
"Blue Gill" is a Sunfish! :)

My Dad was a WWII Navy PBY "Black Cat" pilot. He qualified for piloting just about every aircraft available--including helicopters :confused:.

As a Cadet, he was training PBY pilots in Jacksonville when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Back then, "tricycle-gear" aircraft were scarce.

After the war, he bought and sold several different aircraft. The Grumman Mallard amphibian, which he sold to Henry Ford II. :cool: Then a Cessna 140, a 180, a Republic SeaBee, and finally another 180, which he kept for decades.

I hadn't been paying attention to the landing gear layout, but each plane he'd ever owned had been a "tail-dragger". :oops:
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Beautiful airplane and great paint job. We see more airplanes hidden in there, and being a pilot, I would of course like to see photos. Interesting green tail in the background. The other bird is an RV-?

PS your boat is in great shape, you might have some luck bringing back the gelcoat on the bottom with some wet sanding and/or 3M Fiberglass Restorer and Wax using a variable speed polisher set to 1400-2000 rpm and a wool pad.

Looking forward to Sea Trial photos.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
...which begs the question of the other plane, doesn't it?
Hey, I've got a new canopy that might fit that other plane! :) It was recovered from a T-hanger "tear-down", prior to development.

Waitaminnit... I haven't seen it since Hurricane Irma. :(
 
Beautiful airplane and great paint job. We see more airplanes hidden in there, and being a pilot, I would of course like to see photos. Interesting green tail in the background. The other bird is an RV-?

PS your boat is in great shape, you might have some luck bringing back the gelcoat on the bottom with some wet sanding and/or 3M Fiberglass Restorer and Wax using a variable speed polisher set to 1400-2000 rpm and a wool pad.

Looking forward to Sea Trial photos.
The other plane is an Extra 300S and the green tail is a 1941 Aeronca L-3, disassembled. I have an airplane problem. The Sunfish is therapy for the airplane problem....

I just bought Maguires Marine restorer kit with their own de-oxidizer. A lot of the 3M reviews refered to Maguire's so I gambled with them. Odd that the coaming isn't faded at all. Should I just de-oxidize and polish the top deck? No wax? There are cracks in the gel coat on the top deck.

I replaced all the wiring and lights, and cleaned out the mouse nests in the trailer.

Attached is the Aeronca during happier times.
 

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Nice problem to have! Thanks for sharing the photos. Taildragger qual is on my bucket list.

I would deoxidize and polish, it looks like typical gelcoat cracking due to age and lack of maintenance. Wax would add a sacrificial layer over the gelcoat, but I wouldn't wax too much around the cockpit = slippery. We rarely wax our boats, we just 3M them periodically, like every 10 years and go light around the cockpit. We keep them covered with a boat cover and under cover. Meguiars does indeed get good reviews and is easier/cheaper to find.

Delta takes care of my airplane problem...fun times in Chicago O'Hare a few days back.

541754B5-1308-4602-91E6-0387BAA56EDA.jpeg
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Nice problem to have! Thanks for sharing the photos. Taildragger qual is on my bucket list.

I would deoxidize and polish, it looks like typical gelcoat cracking due to age and lack of maintenance. Wax would add a sacrificial layer over the gelcoat, but I wouldn't wax too much around the cockpit = slippery. We rarely wax our boats, we just 3M them periodically, like every 10 years and go light around the cockpit. We keep them covered with a boat cover and under cover. Meguiars does indeed get good reviews and is easier/cheaper to find.

Delta takes care of my airplane problem...fun times in Chicago O'Hare a few days back.

View attachment 43956
Great pic.
And I agree, give your nice blue hull and deck a good soapy wash, then fine wet sand with clean soapy warm water, rinsing as you go, and finally you could use rubbing compound (maybe overkill after wet sanding), then 3M fiberglass restorer and wax. You’ll be amazed by the difference. It is a rare color and a good looking boat, I wouldn’t paint it. I’d put a little thickened epoxy in any visible chips or voids in the mast step. I like West System Six10 (comparable with Thixo) because it’s easy, premeasured and dispensed with a caulk gun. Tape off the area, mix the two parts. I use a gloved finger to line the mast step and fill any voids. Tape a chip brush to a paint stick for reaching deeper into mast step if you need to.
 
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