purchased a wet fish

Thread starter #1
I recently purchased a sunfish off ebay. When I put her in the water I noticed she was really heavy. She was very slow and sluggish on the water. When I got home and weighed her she topped out at 225 lbs(just the hull on the scale). Also the sail kleat is popping off. I paid $1200 for the boat and trailer. I emailed the seller and he asked what would make me happy. Now the question, Should I return the boat, dry her out, Ask for some money back, not even bother the seller. I don't believe the seller knew she was heavy and he kept the rest of the boat in nice condition.
B. Matt
PS i believe its a 1968 sunfish
Thats a lot of money for a heavy, leaky, '68 boat. My dad got his that was in nice condition and compleatly dry for about $500 (old non-race sail and old rudder and centerboard). Is there water inside the hull right now?? You might want to try to empty it out if there is any and put a lightbulb or something in it if you want to try to dry it out. If that weight is water logged foam then it will be really hard to get some of the weight down (at least from my experence).
I have a certain amount of experience selling vehicles on ebay. I would venture to say that what happened here is a bid-up on a no-reserve item. Good for the seller, and in some cases very bad for the buyer. Unless there was some intentional misrepresentation by the listing seller, I don't think you have a lot of recourse. This is an auction, and the seller cannot predict what the selling price for an item will be when they list it. It is a good thing that the seller is talking to you and wants to make you happy. If he will refund a few hundred bucks to you, take it. I can easily understand how someone who is not really knowledgeable about the boat can be totally unaware of the weight variations due to water intrusion. Sometimes parents sell a boat their kids sailed, and so on. Well meaning but unaware, they list it on ebay or in the classifieds, and only later does the buyer realize (after finding this board) that the boat is very heavy.
That said, take what you can get, then install some ports, dry the boat as best you can, and enjoy it. Chalk it up to experience. Post negative feedback if you must, but look to the intent of the seller before you decide. I know there are others on the board who have ebay experience as well. Perhaps they can give more advice than I. I wish you the best.
Thread starter #4
Thanks for the advice, I do believe the seller was unaware of the weight. I did empty as much water as possible from the drain hole, before I put her on the scale. I believe it's saturated foam. What are the chances of getting her down to proper weight?.
If you follow the procedure, which can be outlined here by some very knowledgeable people, you can get a lot of water out. Wind Line sails has instructions online. Sounds like you will need 3 inspection ports installed. I'm sure some experienced hands will be along shortly to offer you good advice. I have not personally tried it (yet) but I expect to soon, as I am getting back into the class and am looking for a low-end boat.

Your results probably will not be perfect, but can really improve the boat. There are lots of folks on the board who have done it by any one of a few different methods, but all involve cutting the ports. And sealing the leak where all that water came in from in the first place.
Why go through the hassle of trying to dry out the boat when you can purchase a very nice Sunfish and trailer for $1,200 or less. It will take a year to dry it out and the foam may be damaged. Also, keep in mind the boat probably has a major leak that you will have to find and repair. I would ask the seller for a full refund unless you enjoy repairing boats. If the seller is interested in protecting his eBay "rating" he will probably give you the refund. Or maybe you could ask for a $1,000 refund and return the boat to him - so you will be out $200.

A 1968 boat and trailer should not cost more than $1,000 and often times can be purchased for $500. You can find a good (and dry) Sunfish on eBay, Craigslist.com, and sailingtexas.com.

There may have been different types of foam insulation put in over the years—some better at soaking up water than others.

In my Sunfish look-alike (alike from 100 feet, anyway), the foam was just like a natural sponge: You wrung out the formerly-firm foam, soak up fresh water, and you could wring it out again. :eek: Perhaps the passing decades made it that way. Some foam appeared OK—like what was in the hull's front half.

Anyway, I removed just the rear foam through an inspection plate I installed and it made all the difference. I think water will condense inside any "closed" vessel. Some flotation types may be better than others at resisting water soak-up.

With two inspection ports, you could place a muffin fan over one during the winter and it should be thoroughly dry in a couple of weeks; however, if the foam is anything like mine was, it won't be long before it's heavy again.

I'm happy with the ports, and sponge out any water before each use.

It'll take an hour, plus $16 for two ports. Select the non-slip covers, and maybe not white as a color selection.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I don't see how it could hurt to ask for a refund - I like that "I will give you $200, you give me back $1,000" suggestion. You have bought yourself a big project. Whether the seller knew or not, he has sold you a lemon. BB

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Ijust checked ebay. Did you buy the boat with the red and white sail and white deck with red stripes? If so, I would consider asking for a full refund, as the description says the hull weights 130 lbs and the boat sails "good." It sounds as if neither of these statements is correct. BB
FWIW, I've noticed that many of the Sunfish on eBay "weigh 130 pounds." My guess is that sellers check the Vanguard site for the boat's (official) weight, without knowing that this number can vary.

Lets see if we have this right,,, you bought a boat off of Ebay. You didn't do your due diligence and go in with knowledge about what the boat should weigh or what a reasonable price should be. You got caught up in an Ebay bidding frenzy, You finally smartened up post purchase. Now you want your money back.

P.T. Barnum has a new poster child and you need a lawyer.
Soggy, I tried to say something similar, but I was a little more gentle. I can't argue with your assessment one bit. When you spell it out that way, it's pretty blunt. Of course, there is no way to chase this thing down with an attorney. I don't think the seller intentionally violated ebay policy, and if they did, you could never prove it. Like I said in a previous post, he should chalk it up to experience, dry it out, and enjoy it. There is nothing about a bidding frenzy that comes close to illegal. It's just plain old "auction fever". There is an ebay lesson here for everyone, expensive though it may be. I once sold a car on ebay, and the buyer called back three weeks later and said the paint was not shiny enough. Too bad, so sad. I hung up.
Sorry about being so blunt. Ebay is designed around promoting such dealings and only offers up their wimpy feedback as recourse. The unfortunate thing is when you participate you enter into a contract and unless the loopholes are large it's not worth pursuing when you get fleeced.
Thread starter #15
I guess I should of had a scale with me when I picked up the boat( I'm sure S.B. would have). I didn't think that was a bad price for a boat and trailer. The rest of the boat seems to be in good shape. I really hate to have to cut holes in her though. Thanks for all the advice.
TMartoonis said:
Sail and be of good cheer.

With an inspection port, when replacing the inspection plate cover, you can make it "the top" of a plastic bag holding a camera or Oreo cookies. It'll stay water-resistant, even in a capsize. (Or netting, to hold other items—like apples, tools, cable-ties, solid-copper wire, mirror).

Hobie sells some really-expensive inspection ports with the same features.


Good swimmer

The only way you will be able to dry out a Sunfish that weighs 225 pounds is by installing at least two six-inch inspection ports and blowing air through the hull. Your boat is almost 100 pounds too heavy. The foam in the hull has absorbed lots of water and warm, moving air, is the way to dry it out. It will take a while to dry it out.

With the inspection ports you can also reattach the cleat; what has probably happened is the wood block that the cleat screws attach to has rotted away. That is a result of the water, too. If one block is rotten, others probably are rotten, as well.

I have two 1976 Sunfish that I dried out by blowing warm air through the hulls with box fans. The heat comes from a hair dryer that I put in the hull on the low setting. It took two weeks to dry one out (it started out at 140 pounds) and a month for the other (it started out at 160 pounds), and that was while running the fans continuously this last winter.

I still run air through the hulls periodically. Both hulls now weigh about 125 to 130 pounds. We sail in salt water and even when the hull is dry the residual salt in the hull will absorb water from the humidity in the air.

I didn’t want to cut holes in the hulls, either, but it was worth it. Use six-inch ports so you can get you hand and arm inside for repairs. You can use these for storage, also, while you are sailing. There is another thread about installing ports in this forum. Also read up on finding the leaks. Mine were in the daggerboard trunk and the splash guard screws.

Good luck.
Thread starter #19
I tried applying a vaccum to the boat no help. I really thought that would do something. I guess it's time for the inspection ports. Any advice on wich ports are the best?
Thanks for all the help


Good swimmer
b. matt

You definitely need inspection ports. Vacuum won't help because you need lots of air flow to evaporate the water. Get six-inch ports to faciliate future repairs and to allow more air to flow through the hull. You'll also be able to determine if you have any loose foam and to fix the wood blocks.

I have Beckson from West Marine with screw-on covers. Don't get the cheap West Marine brand or any other type of cover (snap-on, etc.). You can get them with white or clear screw-on covers. With the clear ones you can see if there is any water in your hull while or after sailing without having to remove them.