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Jenn@Otis

New Member
Hi everyone.
Recently purchased a used Sunfish! A 1968 Alcort
Bought a house on a lake last summer and since I am "house-poor," this is probably going to be the only boat I have for a while.
I am going to be honest: I have no idea what I'm doing...
I've worked at an all-boys residential summer camp in the Berkshires for the past 15 years and I figure if the 11 and 12 year olds can do it I can certainly figure it out. They often ask to take me out on them to show off their new skills. That being said, I have never actually tried to use one myself. The former athlete in me is really determined (and impatient) to "master" this quickly
Looking for advice on the following for now:
- What's a good amount of wind (or too much) to take it out in
- What are common mistakes for beginners
- What repairs/updates are worth making to the boat itself
- Resources that are worth reading/watching (there is SO much out there)
- I hear a tiny bit of sloshing in the hull (a cups worth?) but the boat doesn't feel overly heavy - what's my next move here? Would like to avoid drilling holes in this thing since its in great shape.

I have attached a few photos below showing some of the hardware. Let me know what looks like it might need replacing.
Also, I read up on gel-coat refinishing and when I did a test patch it looks like it should shine up to a nice bright red (great news!)
 

Attachments

Alan S. Glos

Active Member
I fully agree with Beldar's points. A few other comments.

Your hardware looks fine. Take a screw driver and make sure all the screws are tight and hold. They screw into wood back-up boards glued in to the underside of the deck and sometimes the wood rots and the screws don't hold., Is so, you need to remove the screws one at a time, squeeze in a little epoxy glue, gently screw in the screw back in and wait for the epoxy to harden. Be careful not to lose the brass toggle pin with the chain - they are hard to find and expensive!

Common mistakes: Going out in too much wind. Forgetting to pull the daggerboard up when returning to shore. Sailing downwind from shore before you really know how to sail upwind to get home. If at all possible, don't sail solo at first. Go out with an experienced small boat sailor if at all possible. A few lessons will pay off big. Wear a PFD (aka life jacket) all times. Capsize the boat in shallow water and learn how to right it and get underway again -- it's covered in Beldar's tutorial.

Water in the hull. Unscrew the deck drain, turn the hull on its side and drain the hull. A few cups is no big deal; a few gallons and you need to find the leak (see the FAQ here on the Forum for leak test.)

Fix-up ideas. Clean the hull with soap, water, rinse, then bleach with laundry bleach to kill organic matter in the micro cracks of the hull, then rinse with lots of water. Then buy a bottle of 3M Fiberglass Restorer ($$ but worth it.) Use as directed and your hull will shine up nicely. Sand and re-varnish the wood parts if needed. Minwax Helmsman Varnish works well .

Have fun! Post again if you have other questions.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia. NY
 

RyanLee

New Member
I just started sailing about a month ago (bought a used Laser Pico after moving into a house on a lake), so my mistakes are fresh in my mind.

1) I am very risk-averse, and did not realize that the boat requires body weight on the opposite side of the sail to balance the force on the sails. In about 3 hours of sailing, I have capsized once, and been close a few more times, but always to the side opposite me. Don't be afraid about capsizing on your side of the boat due to bodyweight.
2) The second day out was very little wind. This made things much harder, as there was no counterbalance to my bodyweight, and I had to position myself much closer to the middle of the boat. Too much wind is bad at first, but so is too little.
3) I never practiced capsizing, and when I did capsize it was no big deal. I don't regret not practicing righting a capsize (but if you can practice, do so).
4) This might be Pico specific, but I skinned my knees pretty bad moving around the boat the first day. Might not be an issue in a Sunfish, but if you have pants you dont mind getting wet, I would recommend at least on the first day.
5) The weather report was almost useless for wind speed on the lake (direction was usually correct). I tied a light piece of rope to a stick, and noticed the wind is strongest around noon, so that is when I take boat out.
6) The Pico model that I have shares the same rudder as the newer Sunfish. If you have the new Sunfish rudder, make sure there is a ring securing the pintle. The previous owner did not include the ring, and we lost the pintle.
7) My first time out I noticed all sorts of things that were 'wrong' with the rigging (this is especially important if buying used), and I am happy I did not travel far into the lake. Assume you will need to make adjustments your first time out.

Enjoy!
 

Jenn@Otis

New Member
Then buy a bottle of 3M Fiberglass Restorer ($$ but worth it.) Use as directed and your hull will shine up nicely.
I watched the following short video on restoring gel coat:
I thought that it was pretty simple, but I am wondering if the way you are suggesting would eliminate steps and be even easier?
I want to get this out on the water in time for next weekend so I want to try and tackle the gel-coat restoration this weekend. Currently making a list of what I need to go out and buy. Not terribly worried about cost since this is really the only money I anticipate putting into it (fortunately the sail is in GREAT shape and a bright red/white stripe so I want the hull to look halfway decent to match)
 

Jenn@Otis

New Member
Is so, you need to remove the screws one at a time, squeeze in a little epoxy glue, gently screw in the screw back in and wait for the epoxy to harden.
I was hoping to remove some of the hardware to refinish the gel coat. Any strategies regarding that? I am particularly curious about the area around the splash guard because as you might notice in the photo of the serial plate it seems to be pulling away from the hull. Am I am to take that whole thing off to polish the underneath? Or is there wood below similar to what you suggested about the hardware. Is there some kind of seal that needs to be added after once I put it back on. This part eludes me..
 

Alan S. Glos

Active Member
The 3M Fiberglass Restorer product is a liquid that contains a mildly abrasive rubbing compound and wax. You apply it a small area at a time, rub it in then wipe off and buff. The rubbing compound will remove the oxidized outer surface of the gelcoat. You can do the entire deck a about an hour or so. You may or may not want to do the bottom. It comes in a Heavily Oxidized or Lightly Oxidized - based on your photos, use the Heavily Oxidized type. For some reason, red gelcoat seems to oxidize more than other colors.

I recommend not removing the deck hardware. Keep in mind that the wood backer boards may come loose in the process and if the board falls into the bilge, you are in deep trouble. If you do feel compelled to remove any deck hardware forbany reason, always keep one screw attached at all times to keep the backer board in place.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

wjejr

Active Member
Hi Jenn. Your pictures don't show this one way or another, but you want to be sure that the white plastic tube that goes over the carriage bolt is present (see attached). My boat is a 1971, and when I first got it, only small remants of the tube remained. That tube prevents the rudder assembly from moving back and forth. Without the tube, the rudder will be pushed to one side or another so much that it will release, likely throwing you into the water.

I bought my replacement tubing, I think it's nylon, through McMaster Carr, but you may be able to find it locally.

Hope that helps.
 

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Lafayette Mike

Active Member
The 3M Fiberglass Restorer product is a liquid that contains a mildly abrasive rubbing compound and wax. You apply it a small area at a time, rub it in then wipe off and buff. The rubbing compound will remove the oxidized outer surface of the gelcoat. You can do the entire deck a about an hour or so. You may or may not want to do the bottom. It comes in a Heavily Oxidized or Lightly Oxidized - based on your photos, use the Heavily Oxidized type. For some reason, red gelcoat seems to oxidize more than other colors.

I recommend not removing the deck hardware. Keep in mind that the wood backer boards may come loose in the process and if the board falls into the bilge, you are in deep trouble. If you do feel compelled to remove any deck hardware forbany reason, always keep one screw attached at all times to keep the backer board in place.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
I second Alan's suggestion NOT to remove any deck hardware. I have an old 1971 boat (and a newer one now). Every time I took something apart on the older boat to "fix" it, I ended up with another problem. If everything is sound, go sail it! You'll learn a lot, and you won't worry about dinging it up. You have all winter to make it pretty and nice! :) Sail and learn on it now.........

Mike
 

Jenn@Otis

New Member
Hi Jenn. Your pictures don't show this one way or another, but you want to be sure that the white plastic tube that goes over the carriage bolt is present (see attached). My boat is a 1971, and when I first got it, only small remants of the tube remained. That tube prevents the rudder assembly from moving back and forth. Without the tube, the rudder will be pushed to one side or another so much that it will release, likely throwing you into the water.

I bought my replacement tubing, I think it's nylon, through McMaster Carr, but you may be able to find it locally.

Hope that helps.
This is so helpful because its exactly what is missing on mine (like yours - just broken pieces) and I had NO idea what to look for to replace it. Thank you!
 

barnmom

New Member
Hi Jenn. And congrats. Sound like you are in for many life changing hours of joy and peace. I am 69 years old and started learning three years ago. I only sail in 4-8 mph winds and zip along the bay like a pro. I capsized once sailing with my fearless son-in=law in high winds. Couldn't get back in the boat. Had a very long swim back to shore. I highly recommend practicing capsizing and getting back in the boat. Requires a lot of upper body strength. Bottom line: If I can do this anybody can. Have a blast!
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Information on the carriage bolt tube.


I'm thinking that might be real close in size to the black sprinkler tubing sold at Lowes or Home Depot....

Insert random photo here...

Hunter skeg 3.JPG
 

stollie

Member
Jenn - a few tips from someone who hasn't been sailing that long.

1. Watch youtube vids on righting a capsized SF. Tip: always have the bow pointed into the wind BEFORE trying to bring the boat upright, and keep it pointed into the wind as you try to scramble aboard. Otherwise (supposedly) it can take off on its own.

2. Like someone wrote before, a) go out in light winds, b) know/read up and/or watch vids on sailing both downwind and upwind.

3. get to know other sailors on your lake, which will probably help you the most!

4. Get an appropriate PFD and WEAR IT ALL THE TIME.

5. Watch more vids and ask question of everyone you meet, and it doesn't even have to be about sailing.

6. Jibing can be tricky and potentially dangerous so learn about this.

7. Be safe and enjoy life.
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Hi Jenn. Your pictures don't show this one way or another, but you want to be sure that the white plastic tube that goes over the carriage bolt is present (see attached). My boat is a 1971, and when I first got it, only small remants of the tube remained. That tube prevents the rudder assembly from moving back and forth. Without the tube, the rudder will be pushed to one side or another so much that it will release, likely throwing you into the water.

I bought my replacement tubing, I think it's nylon, through McMaster Carr, but you may be able to find it locally.

Hope that helps.
Hi wjejr,
Can you direct me to the link for the nylon tubing you bought from McMaster Carr for your carriage bolt? I’ve got the measurements, (thanks,Signal Charlie) but anything I’ve seen on MC is 3’ long and $50.
Thanks!
 
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