Media Snark Questions (Beached Snark Skinned Alive!)


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I've figured out that i have an old Super Snark. It's hull is Styrofoam and its sail said "Kool" on it. According to wikipedia, (
i have one of the earlier Snarks, and the previous owner must have purchased it through "Kool" cigarettes, by saving up a lot of proof of purchase coupons. Out of all the Snark pictures i've found, it appears i have the Super Snark.

I've begun restoration work on the hull. The first thing i did was remove all of the wood. I removed the rudder/tiller mount and the horizontal wooden beam mount for the mast. I started cutting out and peeling up the delaminated areas of fiberglass, and before you know it, i stripped off all of the fiberglass. So know i have this nice big styrofoam boat, and i've been putting it out in the sun to shed some moisture.

My questions for you are:

1. What type of fiberglass resin should i use to give this boat a new shell?
It needs to be the right type that will not eat through expanded polystyrene (ordinary styrofoam). Is there a couple brands i could choose from? i feel like West Marine might work, but that stuff is expensive, i would like a cheaper alternative.

2. Is it a good idea to fiberglass directly on the foam, or should i start by coating the foam with something else, then fiberglassing over that?

3. There are some darker unattractive looking areas and some dark dings on the hull. I want to fiberglass the hull, but i do not want to paint it after that. Is this a wise decision to not paint it? I work on surfboards all the time, they are seaworthy and i dont really paint them, although sometimes i may add a couple layers of clear coat spraypaint. Is there a way i could cover up the dark discolored areas of styrofoam before i glass over it? i just want to give it a shot of white spray paint, glass it over, and forget it, but i'm afraid i might hit that Styrofoam with spray paint and watch it melt before my eyes because of some kind of chemical reaction that will ruin everything.

4. How do i restore those nice wooden parts? How do i make them waterproof again? what do you coat that wood with? i figure i'll sand it, then coat it with something clear and that'll be it, but what? can you just epoxy it? maybe i'll even give it a layer of cloth when i epoxy it.. anybody know about marine wood maintenance? Also, my rudder/tiller mount wood is damaged beyond sanding. its coming apart and i need to replace them. What type of wood should i use and how should i repair it?

5. Does anybody know what years the early Snarks range from? i still havent been able to pinpoint the age of this boat.













Nice pictures. I am suprised the foam is in such good shape everywhere.

I bought the 2-1 epoxy mix from US composites. They seem to be slightly cheaper. The dispensing pumps work great and keep things from getting to messy. I bought sail repair tape and some thread from They also sell epoxy kits. They are recommended by this guy who seems to do some quick repairs. You might want to read the article about the Holder 12. It was pretty good.

What material did you strip off of the boat? I thought that epoxy based fiberglass was pretty new. Maybe they they coated the polystyrene with something and put polyester over the top. Sorry I can not help more with this.

Nice pictures, brings back memories. When you get done, don't tow it with anyone on board...our broke right in half. Thankfully our replacement boat was a Sunfish.
YOUR Post Said:
<I've figured out that i have an old Super Snark. It's hull is Styrofoam and its sail said "Kool" on it. According to wikipedia, (
i have one of the earlier Snarks, and the previous owner must have purchased it through "Kool" cigarettes, by saving up a lot of proof of purchase coupons. Out of all the Snark pictures i've found, it appears i have the Super Snark.

I've begun restoration work on the hull. The first thing i did was remove all of the wood. I removed the rudder/tiller mount and the horizontal wooden beam mount for the mast. I started cutting out and peeling up the delaminated areas of fiberglass, and before you know it, i stripped off all of the fiberglass. So know i have this nice big styrofoam boat, and i've been putting it out in the sun to shed some moisture.>

My Reply:

Congratulations, Ranzo, on finding such a neat relic of tobacco history. I am a Snarker myself and know how much fun these little ABS clad polystyrene (Styrofoam(tm) boat can be. I'm also a collector of vintage paraphernalia -- old Singers (sewing machines with that sort of SF/O'Day cachet), tools, "pop culture" and sailboats (anything that floats).

For some reason, perhaps being a fellow Snarky ("poor person's Sunfish," I call it), I've been thinking about your wonderful find and great detailed photos and enthusiam since you posted your beached catch. I've an entire TOP TEN list running through my mind (get out cynical, sardonic protective gear) and have been holding myself in check (if not contempt) for even thinking of unleashing them in a reply to a sweet, enthusiastic post. I've reigned myself in (I'm learning ;-) ) and while patching my own "poor man's Sunfish" or mowing the lawn or sipping lemonade, I've come upon more and more flip (with HEART -- fondly flip) responses. They keep accumulating. My SEND button is only a fractions of an inch away....
But I think of how enthusiastic you are, how desperate you might be to sail and to restore a boat, and I also sense you are young (you remind me of a nephew, perhaps). So, let me respond in the earnestness that fits your eager and industrious query. Then, if you are up for some warp (that's me -- warped) and dark flip humor, I will gently unleash my Top Ten wisecrack comments. I am all heart and all absurdity, so it would not be personal (as I don't know you, although I do see your "deed").

For the solemn and most compassionate response:

1. Save those pieces of ABS. Run out and get them from the trash. Okay, if you don't have them, not to worry.

You saw the Wiki(pedia) site and it's links. As an inveterate collector of Vintage Junk I wonder if you don't have something beyond ABS, Styrofoam and a floating vessel with a sail. You might have something that a collector of advertising (there are such folks), Americana Pop, or Afro-American culture (through the years) might be interested in -- intact though, not skinned alive, Hannible Lecter style. You'd be surprised what folks that aren't buzy sailing collect.

It appears the KOOL Snark (I don't think "Super Snark" was envisioned then) is from the late 1950's and I'll guess you've got one of the earliest SNARK boats (ask the Snark forum -- yeah, there's a forum for everything, even the Snark boats). They were not always made by Castlecraft. Mine is much more of a wet board boat (not scooped out as your, but LATER (?) than your Kool boat. Mine was made by Kransco of San Francisco and (get this) has a Neil Pryde sail. The sail was made by the Hong Kong or Taiwan divison of Neil Pryde. The new sail I just ordered is made in CHINA and is a few square feet short.

I think you Kool :cool: Snark was earlier than my Kransco Snark. Mine is probably from the mid to late 1970's, but yours is from the mid to late 1950's.
(Did you retrieve all the ABS pieces yet??)

** Let me say now that in the event you lose steam and decide not to continue with whatever reconstruction goat you had in mind, might I have "first dibs" on the sail? I'd like the spars, daggerboard and rudder/tiller as well. Don't forget, I asked first :D

What I would have done: (knowing what I know now is to not have cut that KOOL looking green ABS away. Now you're left with just a Styrofoam (EPS) shell. EPS (Expanded Polystyrene Foam) doesn't have any strength by itself. It breaks and crumbles. But if does float. ABS is the perfect and fitting cladding for this sort of boat. Plus you had that great KOOL green that matched the sail logo.
ABS (sheets) are expensive. You don't want to put polyester resin ("fiberglass resin) on the polystyrene because, as you've already noted, it will likely dissolve the EPS (expanded polystyrene). You can get a two part epoxy such as West System, but then what have you really gained? You spend money and get to do a LOT of work (fitting, sanding, fairing....). You'd probably have to use fiberglass cloth or mat to get back the structural integrity that the ABS cladding provided. If you've got a huge oven, maybe you can wet a huge sheet of ABS, drape it over the cockpit, and melt it into place. (I'm not seriously suggesting this).

I've no idea how you might make a sailing board boat from it now. Maybe others have some thoughts. (David) is very resourceful and practical, so he might be able to give you some ideas. Maybe a plastic company can put new ABS on it? In my mind, the best and most appropriate cladding, so it is a shame you so enthusiastically and painstakingly cut it all off. ABS is neat stuff. And (see one of the threads on the Sunfish Talk), it actually CAN be repaired or bossed into fitness again. It may become brittle from age and UV exposure, but it can be mended in a fashion.

If you have any of that green ABS and you're not going to use it, I'd like it for repairing my Snark (forward thinking here). A little acetone and Badda Bing!

IF I HAD THAT skinned alive KOOL boat and the ABS fragments: I might just decide to reglue it/replasticize it together again. FAST REVERSE Video.

I'm sure someone at the Snark forum or here or elsewhere will give you some good tips. First of all, you need to know what it was you wanted -- a fun sailboat/board boat to use? A restoration project? A collectible. Even if you are interested in getting a fun board boat (Sunfish-like), you might consider finding a vintage (advertizing, tobacco paraphernalia, or other category) collector to buy the boat (as is, I guess :) ) then use that money to buy a used SF or similar board boat. I'm new and very inexperienced in epoxy repair (though I've painted and caulked more wooden boats than I want to remember), so I have no idea how you'd set about making your boat solid again (i.e. structurally sound/solid).

I'd like to know how things progress and how you restore it. Let me know if you'd like me to add my TOP TEN list of things that came to mind when and since I saw your post and photos. Neat find, Ranzo. I'd go beachcombing with you anytime.
First let me say that I have no experience yet with laying fiberglass cloth and resin. I have only read a bit to try to prepare to do it. I’m basing this answer only on what I have read – not experience, but I’m pretty sure of this answer.

To understand the problems you are facing you need to understand the fiberglass boat manufacturing process. They start by making a mold that will be forming the outside of the boat. That mold is very smooth. A non-stick coating is applied to the mold followed by resin. Layers of fiberglass cloth, saturated with resin, are then applied to provide strength to the resin. What they end up with (on the outside surface which will be the inside of the boat) is quite rough. When the mold piece is removed from the mold the outside of the boat that was against the surface of the mold is very smooth. Sanding/polishing with fine grits get it to the polished finished fiberglass surface.

You do not have the reverse mold. You would need to layer the resin saturated cloth on your foam and cover that with layers of resin to build up your finish coat. The resins are not like a paint with what is sometimes called a self leveling surface. You will most likely be left with a surface that resembles an orange peel with brush or roller marks. That surface would need to be rough shaped and wet sanded to get it to a finish grade surface.

I think you would have a lot of trouble getting the entire boat from the rough finish to a smooth finish. It might have been possible (if the resin bonded to the existing ABS) for the amount you have shown exposed in your first picture - especially because it was not a wetted surface of the hull that should be very smooth - but may be quite difficult on the entire boat. Most experts say that re gelcoating a Sunfish is not worth the money because of the time necessary to sand it smooth. Your job would be harder than just re gelcoating I think.

Your second problem is that epoxy resin, which you say might be required due to the Styrofoam, is even harder to sand than poly resin. You might be able to get a small fix smooth enough to work for an ugly patch, but shaping the entire boat may not be possible. It is not like sanding and shaping soft pine. It would be more like grinding the shape of the entire boat from stone to a tolerance of a fraction of a millimeter so you did not grind clear through your final coat of epoxy resin to the layers of glass underneath.

If you have lots of time and excess cash to pay for expensive epoxy resins and glass, then you may have a fun and rewarding project ahead of you (if you like that sort of thing). I think it is more likely that you would learn a lot of good lessons about working with epoxy resins and glass cloth that might help you repair other boats in the future but won’t end up with a sailable Snark.

Two books I have found helpful are The Fiberglass Boat Repair Manual by Allan H. Vaitses and Sailboat Hull and Deck Repair by Don Casey. They might help you determine your next step. Good luck.
I have been grinding epoxy only for a short while. It is not like grinding a stone. Also fillers can be added to make the sanding easier for final coats. The tolerance is up to you. If you want to go the ABS route and it seems somewhat reasonable, try it out. Part of the fun is sailing your own boat, is choosing a coarse and finding out where it leads. I am not sure what your goals are for this "collectors item" but feel free to do what you want. This whole hobby tends to be a unreasonable in terms of costs. If you want to spend your time and money making it live again go for it. It is satisfying knowing that you saved something from the boneyard. If you just want to sail then make a deal with the previous collector. At least your project has some value as it sits, even skinned alive.


Collect them all -



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Dan! OMG. Where'd you find those?! So funny. Can you find me a Coca Cola one?

Ranzo: I'm still thinking about your boat and how you could fix it up or convert it. Here are some links you might find interesting.
One of my favorite sites has already been mentioned. site about boat restoration (sailboats back from the dead). This guy is good and he's practical and resourceful.

Shortypen suggests for inexpensive epoxy and fiberglass cloth:
On this site there are also links for other boat repair items such as fiberglass cloth, fillers and fairing fillers, and so on. They sell pigment as well.

Fiberglass cloth: They sell a “4 oz. "surfboard" cloth 30" wide, great for canoes and kayaks” for $3.50 / yard (as well as other weight cloth).

You asked about the wood work/bright work. If you have or can borrow a small finishing sander, you could easily take that old varnish off and smooth out the surface. Or just do so by hand with some fine sandpaper over a flexible, new (dry) kitchen sponge. One easy varnish that a lot of busy boaters like is Sikkens Cetol ® I don’t know the cost of this. Perhaps just some inexpensive spar varnish would work well.

Keep us posted.
Petrel - A friend sent those to me in response to sharing some of this thread with him. I believe it's everything he had saved off EBAY and Craig's List while shopping for a Snark. Keep your eye on EBAY, if Coke ever did a promotional using Snarks it’s bound to show up there. My friend did mention he found Snarks from the 1970's that had no plastic covering.

BTY – Cetol isn’t an oil or a varnish but some formula in-between. IIRC Practical Sailor did a varnish test and Cetol didn’t last as long for the money. Have to keep things in perspective, it's a Snark after all. You wouldn't put a bird's eye maple dash and leather seats in a Yugo.
The Kool Snark, I think, came along in late 1960s, not the 1950s. I remember because it seemed to be an improvement over the one we already had, purchased when the hulls were not plastic-coated but bare foam. Ours arrived in Vermont in a box on top of my uncle's Karmann Ghia, circa 1964. As kids we sailed it for many years on Lake Champlain, but tacking in it was murder. You could not get close to the wind and meanwhile the hull was so light that the waves and southerly wind would keep pushing us out to sea. We'd blow out into Mallett's Bay and spend all day trying to get back to our dock. Which brings me, on the Sunfish forum to Sunfishes; as we struggled, we saw other folks with Sunfishes and Sailfishes zipping about the bay as though they were having fun. We started lobbying to get one, getting our elders to stop by a Windflyte showroom (these were cheaper knock-offs of the Sunfish). We were too poor, so yes, the Snark was the "poor man's Sunfish." The original sail had the stripes but no markings, so the "SS" sail in these photos (that's me as skipper) was a replacement. We always thought the initials stood for Sea Snark, but I see others referring to the Super Snark.) Now and then we got to sail a Sunfish; to borrow a favourite word of today's kids, compared to the Snark the Sunfish was awesome to sail, a real boat. Getting one became, for a period, an obsession, but that came to naught. We all grew up. But one day in 1993 my dad announced he had bought a nice used one for us all to use. It's still awesome. And what of the Styrofoam Snark? It was still extant; we found all the pieces and donated it to a church bazaar, setting it up in full regalia. In that final sale, it zipped right out the door.


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please advise of your progress on this project...i am restoring a similar craft and want to know how you're doing...thanks, john
Does anyone know how this boat turned out? I just got an old Super Snark and it's plastic coating is breaking off on the outside of the boat. The inside is in good shape, but I'm thinking I would like to either fix this boat up or break off the remaining plastic layer and just use it with the styrofoam exposed. My parents have one that is just styrofoam and it has held up pretty well. Soooooo....any advice or updates would be helpful! :)
Dont do it! Keep thinking to yourself (keep it original)!!!. i believe u can repair any chips or layers coming off. i wonder if that new rubber spray in a can would damage the foam or not if u had any leaks......
companion sent those to me according to offering some of this string to him. I accept its beginning and end he had recovered off Ebay and Craig's List while looking for a Snark. Keep your eye on Ebay, if Coke ever did a promotional utilizing Snarks its sure to show up there.
I have a kransco soon to be a project, still in debate, might sell it, might get busy with ABS and heat gun who knows.