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Sunfish as heavy weather boat?

dpiper

New Member
Hi Folks,

I've been a dinghy sailor most of my life, sailing boats in the 15-16' range. But I'm looking for something I can sail on Lake Erie when the wind gets up to 25-30 knots and the waves are 5-6 feet and steep. Some people claim the Sunfish can handle these conditions. Are they correct?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
 

PMagnani

36474
Sunfish are definatley not built for air heavy as 30+ knots. The only small craft that is built for that is probably a windsurfer...but then the question is, are you built for that!

The Sunfish hull itself is very sturdy, however the mast and spars and even the rudder assembly will suffer some untimely breakdowns in sustained winds of 30mph.
 

Fred P

Member
I have seen Sunfish masts bent in heavy wind/waves. Not a boat to use in the conditions you describe. 6' waves will flip you like pancake!

Fred
 

sailorf2

New Member
Fred P said:
I have seen Sunfish masts bent in heavy wind/waves. Not a boat to use in the conditions you describe. 6' waves will flip you like pancake!

Fred
You can take the sunfish out in 6 foot waves. Ive always wanted to try playing in them. My dad did it but he said that going down wind was the hard part, but he still had a blast
 

pwbuell

Member
I've sailed Sunfish for years in those conditions on Lake Michigan, and it is as fun as it gets. I can't say that the boat will always handle the conditions, only that mine have.
 

vazure

New Member
I've been sailing a 1976 sunfish on Lake Erie out of Catawba Island for years as well. The biggest I have been in with the sunfish was 8-10ft waves with winds out of the north. Running to the south in those conditions can be lots of fun. I've sailed many times out to Put-n-bay and back with no issues other than making sure other boats can see you. It is the roughest of the Great Lakes and can be a challenge. For bigger wave conditions I break out the Hobie 18.
 

DanB

Crabber
some responses from the site where I found the link -


Yachtsea.... hmmmmm, guess it was his roll.

Surfing your boat on a bet - $100

Trashing your sails, mast, electronics, and ripping out all the chainplates $8,000

Receiving a pocket full of citations and salvage costs - $10,000

Getting away with your life - Priceless
 

ssmeulders

Member
dpiper:

I am one of those people and side with sailorf2 and pwbuell
If all you want is to bash around in the surf, then
set the gooseneck at 30" from the clew with the
boom rigged as flush to the deck as possible and you
are guaranteed to have a positive experience.
 
Our fleet is in Erie at EYC. There are about a dozen owners, but getting more than 5 to show up on a given race night is difficult. About 4 or 5 are making our way to Pymatuning next weekend for the Sam Meyers regatta.
 

Old Geezer

Member
Tim Polaski said:
E as in ERIE Yacht Club. In Erie, PA.

Geezer, is this too easy for you?
Is what too easy?
a) Being able to guess that EYC in Erie, PA sailing on Lake Erie might possibly stand for Erie Yacht Club.
b) Being able to resist the temptation to pour scorn on a newbie who doesn't guess that.
c) Being able to remember what this thread is really about.
d) Being able to sail a Sunfish in 30 knots.
 
Old Geezer said:
Is what too easy?
a) Being able to guess that EYC in Erie, PA sailing on Lake Erie might possibly stand for Erie Yacht Club.
b) Being able to resist the temptation to pour scorn on a newbie who doesn't guess that.
c) Being able to remember what this thread is really about.
d) Being able to sail a Sunfish in 30 knots.
Strictly referring to answer b as a by product of a and c.

Oh well, it's blowing 30 here, gotta go sailing....or trolling for tuna.
 

Gail

24186
Sailing a Sunfish in steady 25-30 is a GAS! SSmuelders had it right! Drop that gooseneck WAY back, consider putting on an old recreational sail (smaller and flatter than the racing sail), make sure your daggerboard retainer is in good shape, and head on out! Laser sailors in these conditions spend their time swimming. Sunfish sailors in these conditions spend their time FLYING! Your major challenge will be tacking. You need to develop the skill to be going full speed, jam the tiller over, jump across, sheet in rapidly, jerk the tiller to fall off and start moving forward (or preferably keep moving forward) so you don't lose way.

If you lose way you will likely end up in irons, and you will never have gone backwards as quickly as you will in this situation. It's a little frightening the first time, but don't fret. After some practice you will develop the skill of putting the tiller over to the side to which you want the boat to turn. After it turns fairly far, you need to jerk on the tiller a number of times the other way as you sheet in quickly, and get the boat moving forward with steerage before it starts to back up again. Once you've done it enough times you'll develop the skill and will develop the confidence to know it's just a learning situation.

If you can, launch, depart and land from a protected site. IT'S FUN!!

Good luck!
 

RidetheWave

New Member
As Gail said its wicked fun! I was out on Canandaigua Lake in upstate Ny in heavy winds and had a blast... never went as fast on a sunfish as i did that day! After i got in my brother took the boat out... fliped it way off shore and proceeded to get himself in irons for a good 5 minutes until my parents decided that they were going to tow him back in. Once i got out there i decided to save my brothers humiliation of being towed in by a motor boat and jumped in with him. It was really funny when i got on 'cuse he was really happy and the only reason he didnt get out of irons was because he didnt know what to do. So once i got him out of irons we surfed back! Never had so much fun before
 
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