I went to move my Sunfish and the bow handle pulled out. I just bought the boat a few months ago so I didn't know the state of the bow handle. I saw no evidence of a backer block, so it must have been barely held in. I wanted a repair that would give me a functional (strong) handle but not involve cutting a big hole in the deck. I ended up deciding to make backer plates out of two strips of 1/8" thick, 1/2" wide, 6 1/2 " long stainless. 6 inches should work and you can get two out of a 12" bar, plus it would be easier to maneuver. It could also be a bit less wide. The 1/8" thickness is needed to get enough threads. I added 10-32 tapped holes 5" apart, plus two 1/16 holes next to these (towards each end). One of the forward holes was wallowed out a bit, so I used a dremel tool to grind it out a bit wider (towards the other hole) so I could slip in the new backers. I used two backers to minimize the hole I'd have to make. In the picture, I enlarged the starboard, bow hole, so I needed to mount the port strap first. the picture show my setup before inserting this bar. I used a wire entering the stern, port hole and exiting the bow, starboard hole. I tied a thin string from that to the 1/16" stern hole on the strap. I also threaded a string from the bow, port hole and back up the starboard, bow hole and tied that to the front 1/16" hole on the strap. I wrangled the strap down though the widened hole and used the strings to position the backer. Theoretically. The string broke and I lost that backer into the interior... I redid it with wire and that worked well. When the first backer was in position, I used two long 10-32 screws (be sure the head is big enough to not fall through the hole) to hold the backer in place while I did the second one. When the screws are in place you can pull the wires out. It would be great to glue these in place, but that seemed a bit tricky to me. At this point you could repair the enlarged hole. To mount the handle, remove one rear screw and thread it back in through the handle and into the backer. The front screw can be used to position the backer. It's a bit tricky to get all four screws in. I used long screws at first to give me room, then changed them out one at a time for shorter ones. Leave them loose and squirt caulk under the handle ends before tightening the screws. I would think this method would work for cleats as well. It takes patience, but less time than cutting and repairing an access hole.
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