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TippyTurtle

New Member
We were given a Sunfish! Friends knew that we lived nearish a lake and that our kids took some sailing lessons this summer, so they gave us an old Sunfish that had been lying in an old bard for years. I know NOTHING about Sunfish...or sailing or boats at all for that matter. The boat itself cleaned up nicely enough once we removed the accumulated leaves, dirt, and general grime that coated it. Our happiness at seeing a much cleaner boat gave way to worry as we now noticed some cracks in the fiberglass and even a few chips. The daggerboard and tiller are made of wood and seem to have some rot. The bag that the mast and sail were in was dry-rotted to such an extent that I feared the sail itself would be unusable. The sail has a very small tear in it and the black "Sunfish" emblem has bled somewhat onto another part of the sail that was resting up against it and despite washing the shadow sunfish cannot be removed. Don't let know their real name, but a few of the rings that hold the sail to the mast are missing. We have the winter to learn and work and try our best to get her into sailing shape. Our hope is that all the work will pay off and come spring, we can take her out and enjoy with the kids!

Best place to buy a new sail/mast storage bag? Daggerboard and tiller? Those ring thingies? Can a sail with a small tear be repaired? Thanks!!!!
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Cracks and chips can be expected, and are normal. The most common crack is a "spider-crack". This is caused by some trauma to the hull, which cracks the thin coat of "gel-coat"—which suffices for a paint job in Sunfish when they were new.

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One spring, my Sunfish showed an awful meandering crack halfway across the hull bottom. :eek: Looking closer, it was actually a strand of real spider web!

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You can expect some damage to the front and rear edges of the daggerboard, but among my five+ (Well, lifetime ownership of 9 or 10 :confused: ) Sunfish, have never seen any rotten areas. But they've all been mahogany—substitute wood species may have rot issues.

For the sail rip, an adhesive "sail tape" is available—starting at about $10. (Not quite 2-inches wide). The sail rings are glorified shower-curtain rings—available from advertisers here, Amazon and elsewhere.

Tillers turn up at eBay, but we have some skilled folks here who will make you one, or who have rescued what you need from a Sunfish "basket-case"—or a wreck. Check here: Sunfish For Sale ...or here: Sunfish Wanted Ads

Some Sunfish emblems will bleed. (I've had just one). You could cut out a slightly larger Sunfish emblem from cardboard and spray-paint your bigger emblem over it. (Even make it a "Fun Color"). ;)
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Congrats on your new boat. Check Intensity for those items. The rings are sail rings. And yes small tears can be repaired with adhesive backed sailcloth from Sailrite.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
Have the kids help fix it up, the memories and time spent together
will last long after the boat is gone. Well, that and kids don't know
how to fix things anymore in our throwaway society. Kids in the 30's
could fix anything on the farm mostly by necessity. Like, how many kids
today will raise their hands if you ask then if they can repack a wheel bearing.
 

TippyTurtle

New Member
All three kids have already been informed that they need to put in their sweat-equity in order to sail. Work on the fiberglass repairs started last night and while there wasn't much of that they could do, they had their masks on and were watching how it is done. Soon enough they will be put to work!
 

TippyTurtle

New Member
You can expect some damage to the front and rear edges of the daggerboard, but among my five+ (Well, lifetime ownership of 9 or 10 :confused: ) Sunfish, have never seen any rotten areas. But they've all been mahogany—substitute wood species may have rot issues.
I think you are right on the daggerboard. After cleaning (it was so gross!), it seems there wasn't rot after all. There is some damage around the edges though.
 

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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I think you are right on the daggerboard. After cleaning (it was so gross!), it seems there wasn't rot after all. There is some damage around the edges though.
While you can sail with that even in its current condition, it isn't the best board. Sunfish have some with a few different boards over the years, and that is the smallest. The boat doesn't point well with it and you will have more leeway than you want. If you can pick up a used "Barrington" or "Old Style" (that has a rounded bottom) board your boat will sail better. By far the best of all are the new composite ones with a foil shape to them. They have been around since the early 90s, but cost more than the wood Barrington or Old Styles.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Are folks 3D printing their own? Are their set plans out there for a 3D printed daggerboard? I haven't been able to find any. Seems like the best of all worlds?
While in theory that would be a good idea, it unfortunately would not turn out to be the best of all worlds. The wood boards are strong because they are wood, and the composite boards have steel reinforcement in them (the latest all-fiberglass composite boards may or may not, but I strongly suspect they do.) 3 D printed plastic would bend while being sailed, and when you flip and need to climb on the board to get the boat back upright, it would unfortunate quickly snap. I also imagine printing something of that size would be really expensive. The UPS store charges about $60 to print an iphone case, so a daggerboard would probably be well over $1,000 and would not have the required strength or durability. You could print one from stainless steel but it would cost a fortune and weigh a ton.
 
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LaLi

Well-Known Member
the composite boards have steel reinforcement in them (the latest all-fiberglass composite boards may or may not, but I strongly suspect they do.)
I have never even seen a "new" Sunfish centreboard, but I assume the construction is similar to the Laser foils, as the two have shared the same (North American or English) builder for the last 30 years. If that is correct, then...
  • the 1993 -2010 boards are made of foam over a steel grid; they're not really "composite" as they don't have any fibre, and
  • the boards from 2010 on are made of a fibreglass/epoxy composite skin with a foam core, with no metal whatsoever.
But yes, foils made out of any single homogenous material end up either weak, heavy, or both.

_
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
You could build a foil out of hot wired foam and fiberglass and make it much
more durable that what you can buy. Give it a oak spar and leading edge, make
a bottom cap from oak then fiberglass. Should be pretty resistant to dings compared
to the racing foil. The only good thing about the factory wooden boards is putting
them in forwards or backwards makes not any difference for recreational sailing. They
are plenty durable and very indestructible for learning to sail. As they say, 'pound for
pound wood is stronger than steel'"
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
You could fold one from sheet metal, and weld the edges. :cool: I made a longish catamaran rudder from aluminum (plywood center), and an instructor heli-arced the edges. Though nicely foil-shaped, it turned out too fat for the speeds I was going. :oops:

If you're near a big city high school with an adult-education program, you could make one from a sheet of Styrofoam and cast one in their foundry from aluminum. :cool:

It would be lighter than steel, very strong for its purpose, be steadier on all points of sail, reduce hiking, eliminate rot and scuffing, reduce the occurrence of capsize, right the Sunfish more readily, and make lowering of the board very easy.

However, it'll take a lot of football games to save the requisite empty beer cans needed! :confused:
 

Charles Howard

Active Member
It is a good board to learn on and can take some hits and is easy to repair. I would fill and paint the centerboard.The wood boards were great get a chip fill with Marine tex and go.

How old is your boat? I would leak test the boat fix what is needed make sure the lines are good and be ready to sail. I would not put a lot of money into it until you enjoy sailing.

Once you are ripping across the water or doing some pickup races one of the easiest upgrades is the centerboard but they are more fragile. If you upgrade to a new boat take the centerboard with you...


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Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
That daggerboard looks fine to me, but I’m not racing, just patching up old boats in my back yard. I’d sand it down, fill any cracks and build up the tip with thickened epoxy- I like West Systems Six10, about $22.00 (assuming you already have a caulk gun) then a coat of epoxy or a few coats of varnish over the whole board and you’re good to go, depending on that leak test, of course. I just repaired and refinished a broken tiller (not a Sunfish) with Six10. A high stress area, but I have no doubt it will hold.
 

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L&VW

Well-Known Member
Six10 is a speedy and excellent bonding material; however, I used the last of it when the caulking gun had stopped about halfway through. :oops:

Deciding there was nothing to be gained with more pressure, I cut the end off, which disclosed a 3.5-inch internal empty spacer! :mad:

Now that I need more of this, has anyone used up the entire Thixo material (which is a similar product) in their caulking gun?
 
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