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New Guy


New Member
Howdy everyone. Got my new project home Thursday -- a 1973 Sunfish. She appears to be sound and fairly well kept, judging by the appearance of her hull, fittings, etc. She's missing her bow handle, but not much else. Dagger board and rudder need some TLC and a refinish. Sail appears serviceable. She even came with a dolly. From reading on here, I'm assuming I will need to install a bow port to access the underside of the foredeck to remount a new bow handle because, upon removal of the old one, the backer block was lost? Who knows why the old one was removed, but it appears to have been deliberately removed, rather than being ripped out, as the screw holes are neat and not ragged. Probably be asking lots of questions, so thanks in advance. Can't wait to get her shipshape and in Bristol fashion! I plan on using it to teach the grandchildren how to sail and, hopefully, pass on to them my love of sailing. She will look great out on the water with our other vintage watercraft -- a similar vintage (1970) Boston Whaler Sakonnet.

As for me, I started sailing young enough that I can't remember what I learned in ... probably an Optimist, but the first boat that was all mine was a Sailfish. Loved that boat and have very happy memories of spending all day on her out in a very large northern lake. I forgot what ever happened to that boat, and in the years since, moved on to offshore racing and cruising (crewing OPB's ;) ). But I have never lost my love for the joy of sailing in its purest form -- tiller in one hand, mainsheet in the other, wet feet and saltwater in your face.




Active Member
Could the bow handle block still be there? It's not a given that they fall out, I think. Nice boat, reminds me of my old Sunfish in Wisconsin. Looking forward to seeing it again this summer...

Alan S. Glos

Active Member
Before you install a deck port to re-install a bow handle, get a piece of wire and gently probe one of the four bow handle holes ane see if the backer board is still there. If so, use two screws to snug the board up tight under the deck. Then reinstall the handle but not in the same holes as the old backer board holes/threads have probably stripped or rotted out. Offset the new holes about 1/4" away from the old holes. When you get one of the new screws started, remove the temporary screws ant install the other three new screws. It's a longshot but it might work.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY


New Member
Alan’s advice sounds good to me. If the backing board is missing and it is not possible to re-attach the handle in that way — you might explore going without a bow handle. I find myself often using the bow handle and I think that I would want to install one quickly.
You, however may not need one if your situation is different.
Your boat is the same as the boat I sailed on the Chesapeake Bay. Cubby hole in the back of the foot well?
Best of luck, let us know how it goes.


New Member
Thanks for the input -- very helpful! I'll check on the backing board. I think the bow handle will need to be in place as I am not sure how I will be able to launch and recover the boat without it. We have a rather high pier -- about 4 feet above the water level at low tide, and about three or so at high. We don't have any beach, just a rock-lined seawall/retaining wall. I do have space on the lift next to the Whaler, but not sure how to launch the Whaler without launching the sunfish also ... First things first ...