New to the forum...

Thread starter #1
Hello. My first post, I'm sure it won't be the my last, I'll have lots of questions and this forum looks like a gold mine of information and help. I've sailed on and off for about fifty years and I retired a couple of years ago to a lake and recently acquired a pair of early 70's vintage Sunfish. They're complete, but haven't been in the water for at least ten years. One is a 72 and had a keel fracture amateurishly repaired. That one's a project and I'm still deciding how I'm going to address it. The other one is a 73 and seems in pretty reasonable shape. I've scrubbed her down and hadn't seen a major issue until I decided that the main sheet bridle looked a little rotted and probably need replacing. Seemed to be a pretty minor job until I took the first screw out. (One at a time, didn't want to loose the backing plate.) To my surprise, they weren't the machine screws I was expecting, but wood screws. I'm guessing one of the PO's lost the backing plates and substituted the wood screws for the machine screws. No inspection port (yet?) so I can't see inside. What's the consensus, use the wood screws and don't worry about it, put in an inspection port and proper nuts and bolts, or .....pop rivets? Thanks in advance for the advice and hope to be able to lend some in the future.


Active Member
If you're like me and don't want inspection ports on deck I cut thru the bottom and installed alum backing plates glued in with epoxy. Then all hardware is screwed in with machine screws into tapped holes. The bottom cut aways were then easily repaired. I beach my boat quite often so it gets regular "refreshing" on the bottom.
Welcome too btw.


Active Member
Mine were wood screws, a bit corroded, I replaced them stainless wood screws, about 3/4 longer then what came out.
It was tested in 36knt winds, held fine.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
You are fine. Those boats have wooden backer blocks under the deck. As long as the screw is snug, just put it back in and go have fun. You could also put a drop of Titebond 3 on it, waterproof glue. There is also wood under the halyard cleat, halyard fairlead and bow handle.

The block in this photo is dry and split. The other extreme is wet and rotten.

Hoops dry backer block.jpg
Thread starter #8
Thanks to all for the replies. I should have mentioned that on the port side the screws didn't have any purchase at all. I probed with a hooked awl and didn't feel anything at all, so I guess the wood is gone completely not just wet and rotten (LOL). mixmkr's solution is intriguing, but I went ahead and ordered the inspection port. Thanks to all for the advise.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The wood may be gone just around the hole. You could try drilling a very small hole next to the old hole and see if wood shavings come out, if so then there is still wood there, just move the eyestrap over a bit and attach there. Fill in the original hole with thickened epoxy/toothpicks.

My Father In Law used a straightened paper clip as a probe to see if a block was still there. They do fall off, or sometimes there is enough excess foam to hold them in place. If you roll the boat you may hear them rattling around. Through multiple restorations we have got to where we can identify which block is loose based on the sound it makes....bow handle, halyard block, halyard cleat, bridle eyestraps...

It's scary to think about, but there are a lot of boats out there where the screws are only held by the deck, the block is long gone.
Thread starter #10
UPDATE: Finally, all the parts and the time to do it. Cut the hole for the inspection port installation about 6" from the transom. Much more foam, and lots less room than I expected, and the bad news, it was wet foam. (No, I haven't weighted it.) This hull hadn't been in the water for about 10 years. UGH. Foam succumbed to a drywall saw, and I left the big chunks in the hull, they're still floatation. Got to the bridle attachment points on the starboard side after much sweat and a little blood. (That 5" inspection port sounded plenty big when I ordered it.) Had to tape the washers and nuts to a paint stirring stick to reach out to the screws, couldn't get my hand quite out far enough. Never found any wood at all, dry, wet, rotten, split or otherwise. The port side bridle seemed pretty secure, decided to leave that for another day. Enough project for today. Thanks again to all for your replies and advise.

P.S. Now for the drying out project, glad I ordered two inspection ports, this boat is wet inside, no doubt.
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Well-Known Member
1) If one's Sunfish has a single port, consider buying a curved and hefty piece of electrical-type (gray) PVC pipe. With a muffin fan fastened to the outside, the pipe can be directed rearwards--to port or starboard--to swirl outside air throughout the damp hull--to exhaust out the same port. Muffin fans are also inexpensive, move a lot of air, cheap to run, and long-lived.

2) Since I prefer member mixmkr's suggestion about cutting through the bottom, I wouldn't cut through the center of the aft deck. (There's a block of Styrofoam supporting it there, and it's a long reach to the bridle ends).

3) Interestingly, if you want two ports near the bridle, tiny brass ports are sold as "canal-boat ports". Just big enough to get the job done, they're less than $8 each.

More questions: why not remove the factory's excess yellow expanding foam beyond 2 inches from the white Styrofoam blocks?

Can you tell it's cold, dark, windy, and rainy outside? :D