Repairing Loose Deck Hardware

Thread starter #1
Heres the progress so far on my "new-to-me" Sunny. I've installed one inspection port in front of the cockpit. I plan on putting another aft od the cockpit, but the local marine store only had one in stock. I've installed a drain plug in the transom. It' s worth noting that upon drilling the one inch hole for tghe transom plug, I'd guess 20 gallons or more of water came out of the boat! Mixed in with the water was, I'm assuming was what is left of the wooded blocks that the deck hardware is /was mounted to. All of my deck hardware and the peice of the rudder assemble that monut to the hull is/was loose. I've managed to tighten most of it with larger screws and 5200. But I don't really trust these repairs.

Is there a better way to repair this issue? I've thought of using a "butterfly" type bolt.....but I really don't like the idea of the large holes that these would require, also they can't be found in SS, lol.

I've also thought of replacing the screws with bolts/washers/nuts, but since it appears that the wooden blocks used originally were covered by fiberglass, I think that the nut/bolt system would smash the cavity created by the wood rotting away????

On the bright side, my Sunny is now much lighter!
Go with your gut, those screws will pull out sooner or later. Some have made successful repairs by filling the stripped out holes with thickened epoxy, but if your blocks are as you think, you will have to do it the hard way, replace the blocks with either wood or aluminum plates. Check with Daniel at Wind Line Sails ( and see what he says. Also see Mike Killpatricks page ( On page 3 he has a picture of a rotten block, showing how it was wrapped. He also has pictures on inspection port placement. If your new port is installed just behind the splash rail, you can just reach the mast step and deck pulley/bullseye location if it is a 6" port is not yet pemanetly fixed. A 5" port (get the type for a cat/fat bag and you also have a place for your wallet/keys and a bottle of water) for the rudder area will allow you to reach the traveler eyes, after removing the foam. Try to cut a solid chunk of foam out (sheet rock saw works) and reinstall the chunk with foam in a can. (See the loose traveler post). For the bow handle you will need a port between the mast step and bow, or try the epoxy in the holes first.
Get your dryers out, it is going to take a long time to get your boat dry with that much water. The foam is probably soaked thru. Now would be a good time to do any up grades to the hull while it is in dry dock. I would not have installed a drain plug in the transom myself as a lot of pressure is applied to it from the rudder. Good luck on your repairs.
im going to be installing a bow handle and a bridle loop with molly bolts this week for my YC's jr sailing program. our wood is also rotted out and ill let you know how this works. im also thinking we will have to seal it with some silicon.
ill let you know how it goes as it may be a much easier solution than attempting a wood block transfer.
I am hesitant on molly bolts. They rust with just a little moisture. I would take a drill the same size, maybe a little larger than the existing hole, and waller out the hole inside. It will look like a cone with the small end at the existing hole (the surface). Turn the boat upside down on some saw horses. Squirt some thickened epoxy up into the holes with a syringe or a heavy duty baggy (freezer type) with the corner clipped, like a pastry bag. Once you have the enlarged hole filled with epoxy, place a piece of tape over it to keep the epoxy in. Let set over night and redrill the screw holes. I would hate to drill big enough holes for mollies in my boat. Definately seal the holes with 3M 4200/5200 or silicon. Good Luck.


Member Emeritus

I agree wholeheartedly with you on the molly issue. I think a molly without the distributed support of a backing block will just rip out a big chunk of deck when stress is placed on the hardware.

I think if the blocks have rotted away it would be prudent to make the effort to install new ones in the same manner as the originals.

The original backing blocks were pasted in position with resin and overlaid with cloth and resin to keep them in position in case the resin joint came loose (I suspect). There are photos of the halyard cleat and fairlead backing blocks here: in a file named "Inside the Sunfish".

I like your idea of the inverted wedge of epoxy. I've plugged a few holes in a similar manner by drilling the hole then reaching in the inspection port and taping up the underside.

My approach is to keep the epoxy (or resin and milled fiber mix) thin so it soaks into the woodgrain of the backing block. This also lets air bubbles rise out of the "plug" as it sets up so there isn't a void where you need material.
Thread starter #6
I took my Sunny out last night for the first time since I removed all the water, and made some of the changes I have read about here and in other places.

I went out to the Gulf not too far from my home. There was perhaps a 4 mph wind. I was a bit disappointed as I didnt think it would be enough wind to do the job.

But I had brougfht the kids with me, and they wanted to give it a shot. So we did.

It was more than enough, lol. The differences are amazing, the boat being lighter is a huge one, the sail being tighter and easier to control was also a huge difference. We ended up staying until almost sunset. Then we lost the rudder pin and had to call it a day. But lots of laughs and giggles and smiles were created by that 4 mph wind.

Thank to all who have pointed me in the right direction!!
Thread starter #7
Ok....I decided that I needed to install a second inspection port in the bow as my boat was realy wet inside. I went with the 6 inch port as I also need to replace the mounting block for the screw that holds the rudder base mount to the hull.

I mis-guessed on the location and ended up cutting thru one of the foam blocks. I trimmed out the foam and made a nice hole. Then I went ahead and mounted the port (what else could I do at this point? lol) so the question is what can I use to seal the foam that I had to cut?
You shouldn't have to seal the foam, even if it is a little rough looking. The foam is a closed cell type and should not absorb any more water than any other piece of foam. You may sand it smoother for a better look, but that is your call. Good Luck.