Newbie wondering about buying this 2001 fish

Thread starter #1
Hi all,
I'm new here on the forums, and hoping ye old salts can help me out in determining if this boat (link below) seems fairly priced (the owner seems open to working with me on the price).

I'm a newbie sailor and don't necessarily need a racing boat, though I would like a boat that's in good shape, and this one fits the bill in that respect. I'm even wondering if a racing boat would hinder my initial learning curve.

I don't have a trailer and owner does not have one for sale. The marina that I would launch from is 20-25 miles from home; not a great distance, but for piece of mind, I'd like to have a solid trailer, and would prefer not to roof rack. What can I expect to pay for a good used trailer, and which model(s)?

I have zero experience about boats and negotiating...

Any help, questions, comments, advice, etc. would be much appreciated.



Well-Known Member
Nice boat...OK price. This is the beginning of the new sailing season, so prices are likely to be higher than winter's prices.

Under what conditions would you anticipate launching it? (Beach, dock, rocky shoreline, dealer's ramp, submerged trailer).

The noobie learning curve for Sunfish isn't too bad, so a "racing" model doesn't add much complexity, but Sunfish "racing" advantages are very good to know.

When buying, it would help to have someone with you who is familiar with Sunfish or general fiberglass repair. As far as negotiating, ask why he is selling it, complain about scratches and dents* (if any), make sure all the parts are there, then ask if he can deliver it. If not, you have a price reduction possibility. The seller may want to keep some of the "racing" parts that won't mean anything to you. (Like his new lines). In a pinch, a mattress from a bunk-bed is sufficient to protect car roof and Sunfish: note that two people are best in lowering the Sunfish to its new spot. The ride on top of the car will be the softest ride it will have in its lifetime.

"Harbor Freight" Trailers can be bought for about $400 (new) but will need home-made supports added, called "bunks". Bunks are a science unto themselves, as you can see from a search here.

*I don't complain about the older Sunfish I buy, but I'm not racing, and am experienced in epoxy repairs.
I agree with light & variable. I'd go see it, and if it's good, offer $2000 and see what they say. In a pinch, you could get it home in the bed of a full-size pick-up - particularly easy if the truck is a long bed). Have to tie everything in, though. You might get lucky and find a wave runner trailer that you could modify - take out one of the leaf springs on both sides and make a custom set of bunks.

Good luck!
Thread starter #4
Thanks for the suggestions.

The launch site is a gravel parking lot leading into a narrow sandy beach.

If I get him to deliver to my home, is there a particular way I should store it in the garage to keep it from getting misshapen or anything like that?
Sunfish are designed to be stored vertically on their right (starboard) side. You'll even find a drain on this side which you can open to check for leaks. It's just behind the splash diverter. Just get a piece of carpet or a moving pad to rest on so you won't scratch the side.
A 2001 Vanguard Sunfish is a pretty good boat. I raced a 2003 Sunfish for 10 years and it was light, stiff and fast. First, be sure this boat is a 2001. Check the Hull ID number engraved on the upper right hand side of the transom (just under the lip of the deck) and the number should have '01" in the last few numbers. If not be careful as it may be older. Weight the boat if the seller will let you. Balance the hull on its edge on a good bathroom scale. A new boat weights just under 130 (bare hull, no rudder, daggerboard sail or other gear) and if this boat is under 135, you are good to go. Look for any damage or repairs as they reduce the value.

The Harbor Freight trailer for a 15' boat is a nice rig, odd as most H.F, stuff us cheap Chinese import. I have two friends who have purchased H.F. trailers for a Sunfish and both were very happy with them. You have to order the H.F. trailer on line and it arrives at your home in 3 boxes but easy to assemble - all lights, chains etc included. Look for H.F. coupons - often 20% off.
Trailing is a lot better than car topping. At 130+ lbs, the Sunfish is just a little to heavy for one person to load and unload off a roof rack.

If you store the boat in your garage store it on its edge as the hull will not deform on its side,

Sounds like a good boat. Enjoy the project.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
Thread starter #8
Wow, you guys are just GREAT. Thanks!

I came up with a bunch of questions (that I haven't yet asked)...what do you think?

- what's the age of the sail?
- are you the original owner?
- what's the weight of the hull?
- has the hull been painted? If not, what's the condition of the gelcoat?
- any damage or repairs of note, particularly impact damage?
- any leaks?
- what's the condition of the spars?
- do you trailer the boat deck side up, or down?
- do you mind my asking why you're looking to sell?
- will you have the title?
- seeing I don't have a trailer and it may be a while until I get one, would you you be able to deliver to my home, about 75 miles?

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I just repaired a 2003 Vanguard Sunfish and they are nice boats. The price is right, I wouldn't haggle too long :)

Those are good questions, here are some things to look at:
-Is the sail made by North Sails? That is the expensive class legal sail vs an aftermarket sail
-The deck looks good in the photos, but look close at the hull to see if it has been painted, you will notice rubs or a difference in finish. If they are the original owner they will know if there are repairs that have been regelcoated or painted. Repairs aren't bad, in fact good repairs mean the boat was taken care of after it was damaged. The key is the weight, to make sure water didn't sit inside the boat and soak into the internal foam. 2001s were supposed to come out of the factory at 129 and it should still be close to that. I would ask them to take a little less if it has been repaired/painted.
-There may be tiny leaks in a 14 year old boat from areas like the splashguard or other fittings, just know where they are and the boat shouldn't take on more than a cup or two of water from sailing.
-Boats can be trailered either way, Racers seem to prefer deck down. It's easier to support a boat deck down, but extra step is involved in flipping it.
-Maybe title, maybe registration and/or Bill of Sale, but get whatever you need to register it in your State (if required) and think about needing those items if you decide to resell.

As for trailering check out Harbor Freight Small Boat Trailer, we have sold several, they tow great:

Other options:
Craigslist galvanized jetski trailers for 300-400, they need to be the trailers for the longer skis as a Sunfish is 14 feet long. Your local Sports and Outdoors place probably sells aluminum trailers for 500-700.
8 foot utility trailer from Lowes/Home Depot, throw padded 2x4s across it for supports. It can be used to carry other things like bikes, camping gear, canoe, wicker rocker, lawn mower, shingles, trike, cinder blocks, mulch, dirt, landscape wall, chain link fencing, barbeque grill.........
I agree with the comments above. The weight of the boat will tell you whether it leaks. If you are a little handy you can sand and repair the daggerboard and other parts. An inspection port is also easy to install to keep things dry inside.

Good luck.


Well-Known Member
If your beach is to salt water, check if it's really necessary to dip the axle in the water; otherwise, be prepared for bearing replacement (and more) in a few years. Hose off boat and trailer with fresh water. Trailer tires have an easy life, but "sitting around" ruins their longevity. If you can find a good used light trailer with 14" wheels, you can opt to change them periodically for good used automobile tires. (Like I change-out on my truck!) Eight inch tires have a busy and fast life, but make launching easier.

Swim noodles work well on top of bunks. The Dollar stores carry them for $1 each, but I'd opt for the really fat ones, which will need a bit of "carpentry" to work.

offer $2000 and see what they say.
Make the offer showing cash.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
[quote="Make the offer showing cash."[/quote] I bring an intimidating body guard as well. Increases your negotiating leverage and gives you a feeling of comfort if the deal starts going
south. Finn sailors and Star crews are good bodyguard candidates.
Craigslist is your friend. If you are anywhere near salt water, skip the Harbor Freight trailer and look for a galvanized PWC trailer with a long tongue. Dead PWCs are everywhere around major bodies of water, the trailers tend to outlast them by many years. Likely to be a better deal than the HF when you consider longevity and quality.

Utility trailers tend to have very short tongues and wheels in the middle (vs. farther back on a boat trailer). So make sure you consider that in your plan too. Sunfish aren't heavy, but you don't want an unbalanced load either.
I bring an intimidating body guard as well. .
Back in the late '60s and early '70s when Sunfish were at the height of popularity, there was a kid selling hot Sunfish out of a garage on the bad side of Darien, CT. He always had a heavy with him, and I am pretty sure the heavy packed heat. The Sunfish black market was pretty intense in CT and on Long Island, and a lot of guys back then went to buy these hot 'fish loaded for bear. Unless you had your own bodyguard, you always had to be ready to lam - never knew when someone was gonna drop the gloves and you'd get banked on. So much nicer today when you can get on Craiglist instead of buying used Fish from a sleazy fence. TUM
Thread starter #16
Hi all, thanks for all the great advice. Without it, I would not even be considering getting this boat, worrying about getting in over my head, lack of knowledge, etc., etc..

The seller gave satisfactory answers to my questions, and agreed to deliver if I decided to buy. I'll go kick the tires (or whatever the appropriate lingo is) on Sunday, and we'll see what transpires.

So now on to getting a trailer: any additional info on an appropriately sized galvanized one would be great... should I start a new thread for this???

I'll search the forum and the net to scour out what I can find, put out some feelers in local Craigslist, check my local marinas, etc.. I'm hoping to find a good used galvanized one that's not pricey... I'm already kinda over-budgeted with the boat itself.

BTW, are there any other costs related to this entire venture that hasn't been mentioned?

Thanks again.
Thread starter #17
BTW, here's my Q&A with the seller...

Seeing I don't have a trailer and it may be a while until I get one, would you you be able to deliver? It doesn't have to be this weekend. If you buy it, I can deliver it.

- what's the age of the sail? I am not sure. It is not the original sail. We had it restitched last winter by a professional sailmaker. The sail is slightly discolored/yellowed. The sailmaker told us it got that way from being stored indoors too long. FYI, a new sunfish sail can be purchased on Ebay for $125.

- if not original owner, how long have you owned it? We bought it last year and sailed it this past summer in sunfish races.

- do you have an accurate weight of the hull? I do not. It is fairly light and two people can easily carry it. It is not waterlogged in any way. The weight is likely in the 110-120 pound range. I imagine the seller is guessing on the low side here?

- has the hull been painted? If not, what's the condition of the gelcoat? The hull has not been painted. The condition of the gelcoat on the hull is fair to good.

- any damage or repairs of note, particularly impact damage? The nose of the boat was professional repaired in August. It had some minor damage due to an impact with the dock. It was a cosmetic repair.

- any leaks? None

- what's the condition of the spars? any dents? They are in good shape.

- do you trailer the boat deck side up, or down? We trailer the boat deck side up.
- do you mind my asking why you're looking to sell? My son sailed the boat last summer and really likes sailing. He wants to race a Laser sailboat this summer.

- will you have the title and registration? I have the title, but we did not register the boat as it was not required to be registered in order to race it.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I have been sailing a long time, and have never heard of a Sunfish sail needing to be restitched. You should ask what caused that need, although it looks fine in the picture. That is a 2001 color scheme, and boats of that vintage will be in the mid-upper 120s, so the owner is probably being optimistic. If you want a new official Sunfish sail, it will cost in the low/mid $300s, and a racing sail, which it has now, is in the mid $400s. The $125 dollar sails mentioned are knockoffs, altho some are good quality, they can't be used for racing as it is against the rules. Good luck with this. Bring your bodyguard - Voorhees is a rough town (just kidding!)


Well-Known Member
BTW, are there any other costs related to this entire venture that hasn't been mentioned?
As this delivery may not get the care that is needed, I'd assist in securing the Sunfish for its ride, and get assurance that the Sunfish will be delivered without any damage. (Or pay "upon safe delivery").

So now on to getting a trailer: any additional info on an appropriately sized galvanized one would be great...
My latest Sunfish came with a bare-bones home-made trailer: even the two 2x4 bunks were dry-rotted. However, I saw that the skinny quarter-elliptical springs had given it a great ride. When I got it home, I found my forgotten Vise-Grips hadn't slipped from the deck! The eventual buyer wanted a trailer for his kayak, and I managed to get $75 for its rusty parts.

Here are the tiny springs (and tiny tires) that I believe are best for the relatively light Sunfish load. (Less mass). My point is that "more trailer" doesn't equal the smooth ride that a Sunfish needs to keep its internal foam blocks from breaking free from the hull. (And a small trailer could double as a wheeled dolly).

Thread starter #20
Light & Variable,
I'm very interested in learning more about this trailer option, but I'm not much of a builder, won't be able to find the time, etc.. What are my options if I was leaning in the direction of your suggestion, keeping in mind I can't afford brand new, and want the trailer to be a galvanized one as well?

Thank you, and thanks to all.
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