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New (to me) Sunfish. Need repairs?

BroKen

New Member
So, a friend gave me his old sunfish that had been sitting outside for quite awhile. The sail, rudder and dagger board were in a shed. As I was cleaning off the grime and lichen at the bow, I heard some cracking noises. Then I saw some lines in the paint that weren't there before. So, how serious are those cracks? Here's a photo. Also, while cleaning the sail, I noticed some small tears. Will tape fix them? Is it likely there will be more tears soon? Time for a new sail? Here is a sail photo, too. Thanks for any input.
 

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Charles Howard

Active Member
The hull is gelcoat not paint and is durable. Sail tape should do it. Can to take some more pictures of the bow and stern so the expects can determine the year. Doe it have a number on upper right on the stern?
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
So, a friend gave me his old sunfish that had been sitting outside for quite awhile. The sail, rudder and dagger board were in a shed. As I was cleaning off the grime and lichen at the bow, I heard some cracking noises. Then I saw some lines in the paint that weren't there before. So, how serious are those cracks? Here's a photo. Also, while cleaning the sail, I noticed some small tears. Will tape fix them? Is it likely there will be more tears soon? Time for a new sail? Here is a sail photo, too. Thanks for any input.
The cracks are called "spider cracks", and are not uncommon in older Sunfish gelcoat.

While gelcoat is strong, it is also brittle. 'Best to ignore them. ;)

Sail tape is so strong, you don't get a second chance to get the tape flat and even. :(

Small tears I fix with circles snipped out of the tape. Larger tears get trimmed to have Band-Aid-like ends.

Upon the occasion of my broken mast, my racing sail also got shredded. :eek: I managed to tape the entire foot and luff, and it was "presentable" upon its sale—going away with my old Porpoise II.

P1010002-002.JPG
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
The cracks have most likely been there a long time. They don't just happen instantly. Further, I think they show up well in the pic as there are years of dirt (or moss or lichen) rubbed into them.
 

BroKen

New Member
The hull is gelcoat not paint and is durable. Sail tape should do it. Can to take some more pictures of the bow and stern so the expects can determine the year. Doe it have a number on upper right on the stern?
Thank you all for the input. I am sure the cracks in the picture are new and that I caused them as I was pushing pretty hard to try and get the grime off. They weren't there before and I heard the crackling as I scrubbed. Glad they are not so serious. I'll get some sail tape soon to repair the sail. Here is a pic of the serial number: AMF 10826M74B. What does that tell you guys?
 

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Congratulations on your new yacht!

The tiny cracks are there because the gelcoat shrinks over time, 47 years in this case. You just finished up early what would have happened the first time you took it out. Keep an eye on them, if more bits flake away you have to make sure that the fiberglass underneath stays protected. Shouldn't be an issue with what we all see so far.

More pics please when you get a chance.
 

BroKen

New Member
Thank you guys. Took her out on the water yesterday. Had a good time. I was wondering if the river (three blocks away) would be wide enough for sailing but that didn't seem to be an issue. As I went west under the bridge the wind stopped. Another quarter mile or so is a lock and dam. The current was maybe a mile or two an hour and I could see myself going over the dam as there wasn't enough wind to get upstream. There was wind above me. I could see it stir the trees. But leaves knocked from the trees fell straight down to the water. I was surprised as how well she moved just from whipping the rudder back and forth. Not enough to go upstream, but I could get to the bank if I had to. What little wind there was seemed turbulent. It would lightly fill the sail on one side, then fill it on the other side a minute later. After ten or fifteen minutes of floundering, the wind picked up and I had no trouble getting back up to the boat ramp where I had put in. I did detect quite a bit of water inside. There is can inspection port forward and right now she is upside down under a tarp with the port open to try and dry her out. There is a repair on the bottom as well that might need redone. Probably won't have her in the water for the rest of the year. It's turned a little chilly. Looking forward to taking her out in the spring. Thanks again for all your help.
 
Sounds like you will want to do a leak test in Spring! There are some threads that review how to do this. There are also some great YouTube videos if you’re a visual learner
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
That is a beautiful spot. As you found out, narrow rivers like that can be tough to sail on. Trees tend to cause wind to go up, so even on a windy day, if the wind is across the river, it will often still be fluky with big velocity and direction changes down at water level. When the wind is blowing up or down river, it'll still be shifty with velocity changes, but you are much less likely to have the big lulls.
 

BroKen

New Member
So, I think I've found where some, most, all the water was leaking in. Here are some pics of the hull.IMG_20211106_131950.jpgIMG_20211106_131910.jpgIMG_20211106_131910.jpgIMG_20211106_131859.jpgIMG_20211106_131849.jpg
 

BroKen

New Member
My first question to you guys is, on a scale of one to ten, how much a fool was I to take this out on the water without even looking at the hull? And then, would I be a bigger fool if I took it out next week like this. It is supposed to be 70 Wednesday! I mean, I did it once and it didn't sink. Right?
 

BroKen

New Member
What about flex tape? That guy taped a boat together! I've got some more Gorilla tape I used on the sail. Whatcha think? Bigger fool all the time, huh?
 

danpal

Active Member
I'd say, go for it! You've got all winter to repair it. The boat isn't going to sink because of the foam blocks. It just might get more sluggish as water seeps into the hull. The Gorilla tape will probably help.
 

BroKen

New Member
Well, I went for it. Did the tape thing but then I scraped through much of it putting her on the trailer. The weather was warm, the water cold, and the wind was worse than before. The current pulled me downstream for a couple a hundred yards, then a breeze would come and I might get back upstream half of that. Kept that up for a couple of hours. Finally, I headed to the bank where the current was weak and paddled back upstream. The hull cracks let in a lot of water. Of course she didn't sink but she was pretty hard getting back on the trailer. The tape seemed more effective at keeping the water in than keeping it out! The weather is nice today..... but I am going to wait 'til spring after I get this fixed. That brings me to my question.

A boat hull repair video suggests 12/1 slope in the taper on each side (when you have access to both sides) and 24/1 taper when you only have outside access. I don't think I will take this thing apart to get access inside, so that means 24 to 1. How thick is the hull? 1/4 in? 24/1 slope would go out at least 6 inches from each side of the cracks to get the taper right. Since both cracks are right in the middle of the ridge in the centerline, how can I get the taper right with those curves round the ridge and down to the hull proper? I am not too concerned with how the repair will look. It will be below the waterline after all. Would it work to just forget about the taper and cover each crack with another quarter inch of fiberglass, going out 6-8 inches on either side of the ridge and tapering down to the original hull from there?

Are cracks in the center ridge common? Is there a simple fix or does it really require taking the boat apart and getting access to both sides to fix cracks like these?

Thank you all again. Your input has been most helpful.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The hill is barely 1/6th inch, except for the keel, which is a little thicker. 12/1 is way too much. 1 inch taper is usually plenty for a beach boat repair..

You need to assess the extent of the damage on the keel. Poke gently with an awl to see if the fiberglass under the gelcoat gelcoat (thick paint) layer is damaged. If it feels crunchy, soft or the awl goes right through then it needs to be replaced.

The number 1 thing you should do is an air leak test to find where all of the leaks are. No point in fixing one area when it appears you need to fix multiple areas, such as the daggerboard trunk.

Pictures help a lot, thanks for posting them.
 

shorefun

Active Member
Get a random orbit electric sander and the Gator sanding disks from Lowes hold up well. Sand off the gelcoat and see what it looks like. If it is 'whiter' then the layers are separated and you need to go deeper. If you probe it and a pointy thing goes through then you need to taper down more.

The taper is important for giving more area for the resin to stick to and seeing what is or is not wrong.

Watch some videos on how experienced people do glass. I have now seen a bunch of repairs where people put one layer of glass and a lot of resin. That is not a good repair. There needs to be just enough to wet it out and get rid of the air bubbles.

Its a sunfish. It is not hard to do repairs that will get the job done. At this point I have seen so many horrible repairs that have lasted years if not decades that I dont question anything I do. So long as the surface is cleaned and sanded with 80 grit and there is not too much resin you are likely good to go.

I will say the repairs at each end of the dagger board opening might be worth removing the previous repair and doing your own. Poke and prod it and see how well the stuff that is there is actually sticking to the glass. Ya, I have seen what looks to be a good repair that did not stick.

If you are not sure of what you are doing with glass work youtube is your friend.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I'm in the middle of replacing an aftermarket bow handle :oops: with a proper Sunfish bow handle. (But bolted-in to ease a future replacement).

As previously suggested, I used a polypropylene cutting board as a backing plate. (But stainless-steel in the 2018 replacement in my other Sunfish). The following describes a modified "Shoreline Method", as in the above video.

Just like the previous 2018 replacement, I cut an access hole in the side. I used a saber saw and a metal-cutting blade so there would be a smaller space to fill. Thin metal blades don't allow rounded turns, so there are "awkward" points where the saw had to be turned.

Since the wood block was missing, and the factory's "mat" strapping was in the way, I pulled out the pieces and used them as tabs to support the repair from behind. The hole is larger than the 2018 repair, as there is not much room to navigate inside the bow, and it allowed an overnight place to store my tools!

More to follow...

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