Sunfish camping?

Thread starter #1
New member, first post. I've been lurking this board for awhile and I've learned a lot. Anyway....

I take my 77 Sunfish camping quite often, and I was wondering if anyone else had any loading techniques they wanted to share. I strap a large duffel bag between the bow handle and mast, and strap the tent and sleeping bag behind the splash guard. A small soft cooler gets wedged into the storage compartment. I currently don't have any inspection ports because I've never had any hull problems. Planning on installing at least one sometime in the near future, with a cat bag.

Anyone have any success towing a small kayak as a cargo barge? Any other sail camping techniques/tips/tricks/hot locations you'd like to share?
Duckfat, you might consider a full-blown conversion for your Sunfish like this guy did:

In all seriousness, I like your method that you are using. I haven't tried the tow-behind yet, but have thought about putting one or two of my boys in a kayak and seeing if I could tow them around. As long as you figure out a good way to attach the tow rope, I think it should work out fine!

Cheers, and welcome to the Forum!
Thread starter #3
Thanks Tag! I really dig that mod, but I don't trust myself to hack up this lovely specimen I have right now. Maybe if I find a cheap beater hull I can experiment with i'll try it out someday.
Thread starter #5
This is true LVW, I'm just hoping it doesn't reduce the efficiency to an unacceptable level. I'm guessing that if I have a decent breeze, pulling an 8 foot kayak with 50lbs of gear on it won't be TOO much of a hassle. But I'll let everyone know in a couple weeks.....
As long as you have some decent breeze, it'll slow you down but won't hinder you too much.

When I was a young teenager, my mom turtled our laser across the creek where I grew up. I hopped in my grandfather's 7 foot inflatable dinghy and began rowing about 200 yards to recue her. After righting the laser, my mom hopped in the inflatable and I towed her back to my grandparent's house, under sail. It was about 7-10 kts of breeze. I'd say i was travelling at about half the speed i would've without towing my mom in an old inflatable. your kayak probably weighs less and is a lot more streamline than a rubber dinghy, so i think you could make it work for your needs.
Thread starter #7
Took the 'fish on a two day outing this week on Lake Murray near Columbia SC, and camped out on one of its many islands. Didn't bring the kayak this time- since it was just one night I didn't need the extra cargo space. The boat has no trouble handling the extra weight at the bow, although I did have to sit a further back in the cockpit than normal. I really don't have enough nice things to say about this lake. Easy boat ramp with ample parking by the dam. Plenty of open water with lots of nooks and crannies to explore too. The island I was on had quite a bit of litter from previous occupants. It was obviously an often-used campsite but the island was large enough that I had no trouble finding wood for a respectable sized campfire. I could go on and on, but i'll stop before I start to ramble. Long story short, I highly recommend Lake Murray.

Does anyone have a locale you recommend in your area for some sail camping?


Golden God
Thread starter #8
So, a few weeks ago I did end up dragging the kayak across Lake Murray on a short 2 night camping trip. There was indeed noticeable drag going upwind in light air, and much more side-slippage than i'm used to. I'm thinking a larger sized daggerboard would help this. Thoughts?

The big orange dry bag at the bow is my sleeping bag and clothes. There's a black gym bag filled with food and general camping gear packed into watertight boxes and bags. Followed up by an army surplus sleeping pad with a tarp rolled inside, a nice folding camp chair, and the cooler bringing up the rear. All strapped and bungeed down tight. Paid close attention to weight distribution.

Heading home, the breeze had picked up and I was heading nearly straight down wind, surfing some decent sized (for a lake) whitecaps. Much improved performance, although the kayak tended to surf the swells also, which led to us kind of bouncing along as the slack on the line came and went.

My overall assessment is that the kayak is more trouble than it's worth. I brought way more than I needed, since I had all this room, and I feel that weighted me down too much. I would rather bring less gear and leave the yak at home. sunfish&kayak.jpg
I love that you tried it though! I've wanted to pull one of my boys in an inner tube - wasn't sure where to tie off a tow line, though.
If your into camp cruising there are several events you might want to check into. I just finished the Texas 200 a few weeks ago (not in a Sunfish), which takes place the 2nd week of June. We haven't had any Sunfish attempt the event yet, but in the past we have had 8' PDR's, small kayaks, and several other small boats both home built and production. This last time a 10'-10" Mirror dinghy sailed the event. Boats range in size from 8' to 30' range with most in the 12' to 18' range. Other events are the Florida 120 in May, OBX130 coming in September and the weekend events of the West Coast Trailer Sailing Squadron (WCTSS, west coast of Florida).

I'm rebuilding an older Sunfish (late 60's) and will try to incorporate some storage for camp cruising.


Kevin Mc

Active Member
That brings back some fond memories! I learned how to sail on Lake Murray back in the 70's, first in a borrowed Sea Snark (aka styrofoam ice chest), then a Sunflower (aka ice chest with a vinyl cover) my Dad bought for us (a very good boat to learn on), then a family friend's Sunfish, which led to me buying my (first) Sunfish and two of my brothers buying a Flying Fish. My family would day camp on one of the lake's islands; most preferred water-skiing, but I spent my time sailing (or bobbing when the wind was too light).
Thread starter #12
Jeadstx, thanks for the info. I just read up on the Texas 200, events like that sound like something I'd really be interested in.

Kevin, I also learned how to sail on a Super Snark back in the 80s, on the NJ coast and the lakes of NH. Then I got a Sailfish, then a Sunfish.

Anyway, here's a few more various Lake Murray photos, from recent expeditions.


Wow that looks like a great little adventure. I wish there was a place buy me where I could sail the fish to and camp. Any othr pics of the the full boat with the gear tied down?
Thread starter #14
Satch, I feel very lucky to have such a huge playground so close to my home. I don't actually have any good shots of the fully laden boat- since I didn't really have the forum in mind when I was taking them, most of my photos are scenic postcard shots. Next time I go I'll get a couple that show how I keep it all secured.


Well-Known Member
"...My overall assessment is that the kayak is more trouble than it's worth..."
Having many miles on a sailing kayak, any additional drag--adding length to a daggerboard or adding leeboards--isn't likely to solve the drag-problem with towing much at all. Just the little bit of "cup" in my mahogany daggerboard is likely affecting performance in every direction. :confused:

• For all that gear, I'd fabricate a plywood "poop-deck", and extend it--angled slightly upwards--as far over the bow handle as you'd require. Heavy, waterproof, items should be carried below the plywood to maintain balance of the hull. (A good place to hang a mushroom anchor through the plywood, with a line to the cockpit, if you require an anchor).

• Those items that absolutely must not get wet could be carried in an attached PVC tube with a cap that unscrews.

• Carry your canned goods and other heavy stuff low inside the hull, jammed in place below the inspection port. Use a zippered bag and swim noodles to keep that gear from moving--maybe an inflatable tube-ring as consumables "go-missing".

• For bulky "dry" stuff, a small RV (mesh) storage hammock could be suspended on each side of the cockpit. Attach a vinyl flap to keep spray off, and use velcro straps to keep the lighter contents from spilling.

I presently have one--shortened--across the front of the Sunfish cockpit, but plan to move it to one side, and have added a "drawer" to the cubby.

:cool: I hereby testify, that RV storage hammocks will not lose items even when a Sunfish is inverted! :rolleyes:

• The tack of the sail--where the spars meet--doesn't do much "work", so less-bulky bags could be sandwiched across the tack without excessive compromise of sail efficiency.

(End of brainstorming session--need more coffee). :)


Well-Known Member
This is "Sunfish Cubby Drawer 1.0".

I think I can eventually find a better "drawer" for the cubby, but this one saved my camera and cell phone during a capsize (and subsequent turtling).

The garden cushion is optional for us recumbent sailors, especially if you wear a PFD all the time.

(Recumbent sailing: seated in the cockpit, effectively adapting your Sunfish to become a mobile chaise lounge, with the scenery constantly changing). :)