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Minifish questions

kayakka

New Member
hi. i'm looking at a minfish for sale. met the seller today to check it out.
he said his daughter sits on the front of the boat and that causes water to leak in around the mast but you could just tip it to empty it out.
i was looking at a youtube video on how to rig a sunfish and the guy stepped the mast and some water came out - he said it was a common thing when the boat had been unused and sitting. (i'm assuming it was just the amount of water in the column space where the mast would go)
i read on this forum about the donut at the base of the mast. is it possible this is no longer intact and that is why water is leaking in?
it sounds like that might be the problem. if i look down through the mast "hole" (sorry, don't know technical term...) will i be able to tell anything? what would i look for? could i just pour some water into the mast area and then see if it goes right through the boat to the drain plug?
is that something i can fix myself fairly easily? do i want to get involved with this? i've never worked with any kind of fiberglass materials...
i couldn't see any visible cracks or leaks in the hull. everything else seems to be in fair condition.
he's selling for $650. (deal?)
i love the idea of a minfish as i can transport and sail by myself without a trailer. been a kayaker for years, have sailed a bit, thought it would be a fun change.
thanks for your time.
 

Lafayette Mike

Active Member
The mast step (the technical name for the hole the mast goes into) is shaped like a waterproof cup. He is right that if the boat is sitting outside, or while sailing, water tends to get into the mast step. That is normal. What you hope for is that the water doesn't then seep into the interior of the hull from a leaking mast step. The way to check for that is to sit the boat outside, (off the water) with the mast OUT of the mast step. Fill up the mast step with water, wait 30 minutes to an hour, and see if the water level has dropped. If it drops significantly, you have a mast step leak that should get fixed. It might be an easy fix or not, depends on what kind of leak you have.

As far as the donut thing goes....... if you were to look inside the boat, the bottom of the mast step is fastened to the bottom of the hull. It's done at the factory by placing a donut shape piece of fiberglass/foam directly under the mast step. When the top and bottom of the hull were put together, they squirted some foam/adhesive onto the donut. The bottom of the mast step then squishes into that adhesive and holds it firmly. If the donut itself has come apart, or if the adhesive has failed, the whole mast step can flex and rock, which is not good. Eventually you'll get leaks and possibly a catastrophic failure of the top hull. You can test for this by putting the mast into the mast step and rocking it slowly back and forth while watching and listening. There is some room in the mast step for the mast to rock freely, but if it looks (or sounds like) the actual cup of the mast step is moving when you rock the mast, that is an indicator that the donut has failed. The only real fix for that is to cut an inspection hole into the hull and do some fiberglass work. Theoretically not that hard to do, but only if you like and are good with working with glass.

Here is a link to a thread about Sunfish mast steps.......the Minifish is similar. We've owned both for years and had a leak problem once, but have never had a donut type issue, though I hear it happens. The price seems fair......depends on the condition of the boat. Prices vary widely around the country and have gotten a lot more variable this summer. We paid $550 for ours in the dead of winter with a lousy sail on it. My wife sailed the boat for years, but now prefers a Sunfish. The mini is a little shorter and narrower and has a much smaller cockpit than a Sunfish....important as we old people get older! :)


Mike
 

kayakka

New Member
mike, thank you so much. i think i will try filling up the mast step (thanks for clarifying terminology) and see what happens.
i also thought i might take my bike pump over and try a leak test using soap as well to see if there are any other leaks.
definitely will see if the mast rocks a bit too much - very good point.
i want a boat to sail, not a project - and i'm not even going to remotely entertain any serious restoration work.
of course a little bit of water doesn't scare me but a lot would, especially if capsizing and the hull has a good amount of water in it.
a friend of mine had a hobie cat and his hull leaked, we flipped and couldn't right it because there was too much water in the hull that it kept see sawing bow to stern and with the two of us we couldn't right it.
as for the price point, boat isn't exactly pristine or anything but no huge problems that i could see. sail was actually in good condition.
the seller only bought it a couple of months ago, he said he capsized once and said he couldn't right it. i'm not sure if he didn't know how or possibly the hull might have had too much water (that's my real concern). i saw him handle it and he really wasn't sailing as much as just floating around catching a bit of breeze. could be gun shy after capsizing. $650 is good if it's watertight and i can take out and sail every couple of weeks. if it's got any problems i can't fix with duct tape, i think the price is high and i'll pass.
now i'm completely sold on the minifish, if this isn't the right one i'll wait for the right one to come along...
i'm not a youngster but i know i can handle a minifish (on land) by myself, the extra weight of the sunfish makes it too much for me.
i'm a water girl - with two kayaks (56# and 34#) and a paddle board the last thing i need is a minifish but why not? i'm only 15 minutes from multiple gorgeous launch spots.
thanks again for your help.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
hi. i'm looking at a minfish for sale. met the seller today to check it out.
he said his daughter sits on the front of the boat and that causes water to leak in around the mast but you could just tip it to empty it out.
Yes, that's a valid explanation; if someone sits upfront, the bow is likely to dip into the water from time to time, and some of that water will end up in the mast tube.
 

kayakka

New Member
yeah i'm not worried about a bit of water in the tube but it was getting into the hull (per seller). i'm going to meet the seller later this week to do a couple of watertight tests i found about through this forum - thank you... if it's an easy fix then okay i'll try to tackle it, if not i'll move on and wait for another one to pop up for sale. thank you.
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
If I was selling I wouldn’t allow the buyer to do a leak test on my boat. If you don’t know what you’re doing you could do damage. If the seller has shown you the boat in the water that’s a bonus. Ask him/her to put water in the mast step before you come by. It should stay there. Lift the boat and turn it over on the lawn by yourself. It should be easy to do. The Mini weighs about 90 lbs. Listen for any water in the hull or rattling around of blocks or flotation. Check top and bottom of the daggerboard trunk for cracks. Otherwise, you said the sail and rigging are nice. The price is about the going rate in my area- buy it! Or make an offer and see where it goes. Waiting for another one might mean no sailing this summer- there aren’t a lot of Minifish out there. It’s a great boat- easy as can be. While it’s important to check it over don’t get ‘analysis paralysis’ or someone else will scoop it up.
Just my two cents! (and no, I’m not the seller but I am the owner of four Minis ;)
 

kayakka

New Member
hi breeze bender. you're right about "analysis paralysis". funny how in my area this is the second minifish for sale in the last three weeks! while i was researching it and reading about it the first one for sale was snapped up. as for the leak test i was just thinking about using a hand held bike pump and see if i could just give it some light "puffs" to see if anything showed. i would be way too scared to try any kind of compressed air. the only thing i'm nervous about is the mast step but i will check the daggerboard trunk as well. the seller has only had it a couple of months, bought it on a whim, said he used a dremel tool to clean up some cracks and then filled in. he doesn't seem to be a boat person at all, changed out bow handle because the other one didn't look nice (now i've been reading reasons why not to change things out like that and how to do it correctly if necessary). just want to make sure it hasn't been messed with too much, i know sometimes improving things can actually make things worse. really want to sail this summer but don't want to be too excited and buy someone else's mess. yes, will check the bottom too. thank you for your advice. you must love the minis! i can't wait!!!!
 

kayakka

New Member
now i have some photos to add. when i met the seller i didn't get a great look at everything... now i realize (after much more reading) the sail isn't a minifish sail at all.
any idea what this is? does the rigging look right? more obvious i don't know what the hell i'm doing... (ask me about kayaks and i can go on forever - this is new territory)
 

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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Well, the Minifish has not been made in a long time, so original sails will be well-worn by now. The issue is this sail is also well-worn! Given it looks like a seam is repaired by tape, it probably isn't a good sail to plan on using. SailcraftRI, a member on this board, did have a batch of Mini sails made, and a different seller has a batch for sale on eBay. Neil Pryde, a major sailmaker, has Mini sails too - there are some on this page, mixed in with Sunfish sails product category - Neil Pryde Sails International Perhaps Sailcraft RI will see this and let you know if he has any sails left. If not , he may know something about the ones for sale on eBay. Every once in a while an original Mini sail comes up for sale, but that is infrequent. BB
 

tag

my2fish
yeah, Neil Pryde is likely the simplest option if SailcraftRI doesn't have any extras.
$120+$25 window+$17 shipping = $162 for a brand new sail is a pretty amazing deal, tbh.
 

kayakka

New Member
thanks.
yep guess i'll be buying a new sail if this boat is to be the "one".
saw the link from shoreline for new lines. will have to get new clips too...
since with a new sail now i'll want new lines etc.
so enjoying all the blogs, info and conversations!
 
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Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
You could also do a better job taping up that sail... if you're near a sail loft (or sailmaker), walk in and ask for wider scraps or adhesive panels to use as patching material. I used to walk into Ullman Sails in San Diego and bag what I needed, on the cheap or even for free if they had scraps on the cutting floor. You could stitch up the seam first too, or have it stitched by someone with the appropriate machine. :rolleyes:

That boat doesn't look bad in the photos, though the fact that the seller is trying to unload it after two months COULD be construed as a red flag. Inspect the boat and look for obvious signs of damage in the usual locations: daggerboard well or trunk, mast step, joint where hull & deck meet, stern end where rudder is shipped, etc. Better yet, take some close-up pics and post 'em, so we can all take a good look at those areas. :confused:

Even if you find a leak (or leaks) in a test, I wouldn't write off the boat for that reason... the Minifish is about as simple as it gets when it comes to construction & repair, and there are many tutorial videos on the web nowadays, so even a person with zero fiberglass experience can carefully follow each step and effect a decent repair. As adults we all make choices, and if you choose to wait for another boat to hit the market, well, that's your choice. :D

Don't be put off by simple fiberglass repairs... think of such repairs as a medical procedure, with the 'boat doctor' carefully prepping everything (including the patient), and having the necessary tools & materials at hand to tackle each step in turn. The only real difference is the curing time between certain steps in the procedure, if ya catch my drift. And of course you're working with fiberglass, not human tissue, LOL. :eek:

That's my $.02, as a lifelong small craft sailor born with a resin pot in his hand, kinda like the Night Rider in the opening scenes of the original 'MAD MAX'---"BORN WITH A STEERING WHEEL IN HIS HAND!!!" What a classic film segment that was, until the Night Rider lost it, started sniveling and ultimately died in a fatality wreck, LOL. Oh, well, he had it going on for a while, and that was a sweet ride too... until the crash. ;)

GOOD LUCK WITH THE PURCHASE... IF YA DON'T BUY THIS MINIFISH, ANOTHER WILL BE ALONG IN DUE TIME. CHEERS!!! :cool:
 
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kayakka

New Member
thanks cactus cowboy!
yes i'll try to take photos of it myself. now i know what to specifically look for. you guys are great - i appreciate it!
i get what you're saying about fiberglass etc. - hull leaks on the outside don't really scare me too much - i understand that process - replacing a line or a small part ok, but if it's more structural like the mast step i think that's too much for me. i read everyone's advice and steps on what to do but i just don't have any kind of tools or anything or an area to do that kind of work. putting effort into cleaning, sanding, polishing i can do but drilling into the hull - i'm not comfortable with.
i love the simplicity of the minifish and i'm a smart gal and used to coming up with ways to fix things (after all i do live in a 56 year old house) so have lots of practical experience (some good some not so good)
if i had a garage i might feel differently - if it was november in florida - i might feel differently as well, but summer in southwest florida (with 97% humidity) is meant for air conditioning, tiki bars, and water sports.
i don't want it to end up stored on the side of the house under a tarp.
i'll keep ya posted. hopefully have some photos this weekend.
hmmm. MAD MAX you say (i could picture your scenario perfectly)... i guess if we're coming up with movie characters i'm more the MOANA variety, a water gal with a paddle in one hand and a tropical drink in another, big smile on my face while slicing through crystal clear turquoise water. (assuming we don't get red tide anytime soon - and actually when i paddle i hold it with both hands, but you get the idea).
thanks again.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Pretty sure that sail is sized for a Mini. The proportions of the stripes look different to me than a 5 panel Sunfish sail. Could know for sure by measuring the booms. But the mast looks too long - it may be a Sunfish mast - but that is an easy fix.

1592267718716.jpeg
 
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Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Funny thing, I noticed the height of that mast... sure seemed taller than my Minifish mast, but I didn't wanna delve further into the mystery at the time. I think you're right though, it seems abnormally tall compared to my old mast, which was definitely a Minifish mast. I even thought it might be a similar mast from a different class altogether, neither Minifish nor Sunfish? Looks kinda skinny where it's stepped, almost as if it's slightly narrower in diameter. Meh, I chalked it up to vagaries with the camera & camera angle, but now I'm not so sure... wouldn't be the first time someone mistakenly "mixed & matched" spars prior to selling a boat. :confused:

Kudos to ya for your sharp eye, anyway... I thought maybe I was imagining things, LOL. :rolleyes:

P.S. To the OP, I copy the Tiki Bar, though I already have a perfectly good bar in my home. At least it has nautical decor, which is important to this hand. :cool:
 

Lafayette Mike

Active Member
At one time we sailed the minifish (wife) and sunfish (me) at the same time. Accidentally switched masts once (but used the correct sail set for each boat). The sunfish mast worked OK in the mini.......is was just taller. But when I tried to use the minis mast in the sunfish, it was MUCH lower. By that time however, my wife had sailed off and I had to go catch her! Rerigged the halyard so that I could get the boom off the deck, and tried to catch her. Never did. Switched masts (and prominently marked them) when we got back from sailing. :)

Mike
 

kayakka

New Member
hello all.
hmmm. well i contacted the seller to have another look at it... (on dry land).
he responded that he's "concerned it might be too much work for you and i don't want you to be upset with me for selling it to you. i see no way you can prevent it from getting water inside. it's an old boat. there are a million places water can come in from where the center board goes through and where the mast sits. neither of those spots are easily accessible for repair. i'm happy to have you come look at it, but want to make sure you are thinking it through. it's an old boat and that's why the price is so cheap.
thanks to all your advice i now know that there really aren't a "million" places water can come in from and if i was wanting a winter project this would probably be a good start as the minifish is a simple design and i would have this wonderful forum to help me.
as for the cheap price - for $650 i think i'd expect a watertight boat that might have seen better days, need a new sail, lines and/or some cosmetic work. am i right? (feel free to set me straight).
i think i'll pass on this one and put some good vibes out in the universe for another minifish to come my way. i know mine is out there.
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
"A million places..." PFFFFFFT. An exaggeration, to be sure, but if the boat is really leaking that badly, it should be one-third of the price. Meh, if you're not comfortable tackling the repairs, best to move on and seek another boat. No worries, another will be along... in these modern times, many folks are unloading unnecessary items or 'luxury items' (makes the Minifish sound like a megayacht, LOL). Yours will appear on the market as ordained by the cosmos, and you'll know when she's the right one... of course, don't hesitate to ask advice from all the helpful site members here, and don't forget boat pics! Cheers! :cool:

P.S. If the previous boat was really in such bad shape, think of all the headache & expense you avoided, LOL... ;)
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Looking back at those Minifish photos, I notice there’s a mainsheet cleat added but no inspection port. I wonder how that was done?
 

kayakka

New Member
oy. might have dodged a bullet on that one!
some gorgeous minifish (minifishes?) for sale up in the northeast U.S., someone needs to come down to florida for vacation. now that i've seen what you can get for the money i consider myself "schooled".
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Don't give up the search, I stumbled across my Minifish on C/L, and I only paid $200 for her because she needed a little work. But ya never know when a suitable boat will appear on the market, and some sellers just want to get rid of a boat... they inherited her, they don't know how to sail and aren't interested in learning, they need the storage space, whatever reason. Their loss will be your gain, aye? And even though I'll always be a diehard Laser man, I don't regret buying that Minifish in the least, I had some primo voyages & excellent adventures aboard that little boat. Hell, that investment paid in spades with Salton Expeditions I & II, grand adventures for this old school small craft sailor & explorer. :cool:
 

Seaotter5

New Member
I bought my Minifish for $375 last year. It's in good shape. I was able to get a new original Sail off of EBay for $120. She could use some new lines, but other than that she's good to go!
Don't give up looking for a Minifish. They are much easier to load and unload by yourself than a Sunfish.,. And, unlike my old Sunfish, it is extremely easy to get her "out of irons". She's not as fast as a Sunfish, but a lot more maneuverable. I kayak, too, and the Minifish moves really well when using a kayak paddle.
There have been an unusually large number of Minifish (and Sailfish) for sale on Marketplace here in PA lately. The $650 price sounds typical.
 
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