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Sunfish leaking foam pieces on beach

ComputerMaven

New Member
Hi, I am a newbie here :p I have recently bought my first sailboat so that I can learn how to sail.She is an older sunfish, an Alcort 1976 model.
In any case I have just started taking sailing lessons, and now I am afraid. Here is whats going on. There are really 2 problems,
First problem is when I drain her from water taken on in the hull, little bits of what looks like stryofoam cup come out in the sand. I clean it up afterwards, we are on Lake Michigan.Does anyone know what this this, and can I do anything about it, and is it dangerous?
And the other thing is just when I was feeling somewhat confident in sailing at least close to shore, I had something happen! One day during a lesson, I was on my own, and it was a very very windy day, this is Chicago, and my sailboat just started sailing backwards. I had no control, and if I hadnt been in a class,I really dont know what I would have done. Actually it was so windy, if I hadnt been in a class, I ~never~ would have been out alone.What happened here, and what should I have done?They sent a boat out to rescue me,and they were so upset, they never explained.Thank you in advance. I want to go out again this summer, and I am reading and trying to learn what to do next time.
 

supercub

Member
Lisa,

I am going to take a guess and say you were making a turn when you started moving backwards, the sail just flapping. This is call being "in irons". What happened is that you started the turn and did not have the momentum to carry you though the turn to change tack and simply just got "stuck". Don't be embarrassed, everyone has had it happen. About the only way out, in my experience is by putting your rudder hard over (doesn't matter which way) and hold it there. You can also push the sail out to catch the wind. The bow should soon fall off, the sails fill and you are back on your way.

The leak in another matter. It needs to be taken care of and fixed. Check out Wind Lines Sails (in Libertyville, Ill)- (http://www.windline.net/index.html) "How-To" section on finding that leak, installing a port and drying out your SF, Yahoo Groups Sunfish Sailor - (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sunfish_sailor/), Files, drying out a SF (you may have to join but it is free) and Mike Kilpatrick - (http://mikekilpatrick.homestead.com/dollies.html) installing a port. Getting your SF dry inside will take time, lots of it (we are talking months, not minutes), but don't worry, you can still sail in between drying sessions. Find the leak, install the ports, fix the leak, re-check for leaks, start the drying proccess, go sailing.

The foam you are seeing should only be a few little foam "pebbles" and not anything to worry about. If you are getting chunks, lots of pebbles, then you have a problem and by installing the ports, you will be able to determine the problem. Sunfish Sailor has pictures of the inside of a SF and there are instructions for reattaching any lose blocks in Wind Line's site. Check previous posts here in this forum also.

Take a trip to the library and check out some books on sailing. You could also get a copy of the SF Bible (see the class home page). Much of it has to do with racing and some tips are out of date, but there are some good tips, history and other stuff. The book "Sailing for Dummies" does cover the basics of sailing and may also be of help. Good luck.
 

schnikes78

New Member
Lisa,
Here is the deal. Foam pieces is not a good thing, though not the worst thing that could be happening. Your problem is that you should not be getting so much water ( or any) inside of your hull, this is not good. I work with Dan at Windline and leak testing your boat and then repairing the leaks should be a priority. This will solve the problem of foam coming apart inside your hull, and then your only issue will be evaluating what damage your blocks have sustained and how it is affecting your boat. I think the website, windline.net, has information on leak testing- it isn't very difficult. I race a 1976 fish and have repaired it and have no water coming in- it sails quite well.
On the issue of going backwards. I can't tell you what you were doing wrong but here is my advice. Where were you taking your classes/lessons? I sail predominantly at North Shore Yacht Club in Highland Park and we offer a class for beginners using sunfish. The instructors are quite nice and many people at the club are willing to help sailors learn. My wife took the class last year and sails well. You may want to consider sailing at NSYC and taking the class. We also race on Thursday evenings in the summer and while racing they usually have a couple of races where the better sailors coach the newer ones, this helps tremendously. Whether you ever thought about racing or not , this is a good opportunity because you tend to learn to sail better faster by racing. The club and class are also pretty affordable.
I don't have the web address handy for NSYC, but let me know if you need it or have any other questions. Good Luck.
 

Al Court

Al Court
Lisa,

As far as sailing backwards, John is basically correct, saying to hold the sail out to catch the wind. I've refined a technique here. Look at your rudder. Notice how the boat will follow the rudder. Just position it so the boat ends up where you want it. This works EVERY time. The method described by John works most of the time. Often it takes some time to work. Then, while waiting for it to work, a wrong rudder move will negate your previous efforts.

Al Courtines
 

ComputerMaven

New Member
Wow!! I am so glad to have my questions answered, thank you. The time I got left out in the lake by myself (sailing backwards as I said) was ~the~ very last ever class offered by Winnetka Park District. They let me sail by myself only because the others in the class absolutely wouldnt go out without an instructor, and so there I was alone :eek: When they came to rescue me, they did have me hold the tiller all the way to the left or something until the wind caught the sail. It was a good experience in one way, and that is that its proof that I need a lot more lessons to be safe.

So I am learning, I have the book "The Sunfish Book" from Will White that I got from the library, and I like it, and I am trying. I have some really cheesy videos of sailing, and cant find anything that is a real quality video. If anyone knows any let me know.
I have been to the Highland Park boating area many times, when we are dredging or something in Winnetka, Highland Park allows us to use there docks. I also have a 18 1/2 foot Sea Ray, which is the boat I trailor up there.

BUT I must learn to sail the fish, I love her, she has pretty sails, and I just really think if I can get over the thing of sailing backwards, and fix the bits of styrofoam leaking, that there is hope. Thanks to all, I will read the links on fixing her, and may take one of the classes. I really want to feel more confident in our big pond, with Kiwi(thats her name). I will lurk for awhile here, and hopefully learn something.
 

Fred P

Member
Get a basic sailing book from the library. It will give you the sailing basics (which you should have gotten from your class). "The Sunfish Book" is more about the boat than basic sailing lessons. After you read and understand a basic book, you will never be in trouble if you practice what you learn. Always have someone around when you sail until you are confident you will not get in trouble. If you do get in trouble STAY WITH THE BOAT!

Fred
 
Sometimes when I am sailing by myself and bored out of my gourd, I like to sail backwards on purpose just for fun. Sailing backwards is really a good exercise to learn as it helps you understand how the boat is balanced, how much momentum you have, how to stop quick, and it can be fun. Try it sometime for fun on a light air day! It will help build your confidence. :)
 

supercub

Member
Lisa,
The "Sunfish Book" is one of the three books in the Sunfish Bible, with the other two being "Successful Sunfish Racing" by Derrick Fries (1984) and "Sail It Flat" by Larry Lewis (1971). Most of the SF Bible is about racing, but there are also some other articles included that may be of interest. Some equipment items are out of date, so check the ISCA Rules (link on Class home page) for the most current if you want to race.

The "Sunfish Book" has a section called "Repairs" (pg 53) that explains how to do a "leak test" (Wind Line does also). Find the leak(s), make repairs and make sure that the vent hole on the front cockpit wall is not plugged, it is there to equilize the pressure inside as the temperature changes.

The advice given by Jakob, Al, Tim and Fred is all good. When the weather warms up a bit, find an instructor that will show you how to get a Sunfish back upright when you do capsize (it will happen, sooner or later). Start learning the righting procedure in calmer, protected waters and then in progressively rougher conditions. Next to wearing a life jacket, this is one of the most important things to learn towards self rescue. And like Fred says, stay with the boat, don't let go, the boat can and will drift faster than you can swim. See the section in the "Sunfish Book" - Safety on the water (pg 40). Practice, Practice, Practice both sailing and self rescue. Good Luck.
 

wesgardner

New Member
Hi Lisa,

The sailing backwards thing - it's one of the concepts I've taught my daughters who sail a '70's 'fish. They get alot of odd looks from passing folks as they sail backwards across the river - you just have to kind of think in reverse...like others have posted , we've all found ourselves in irons from time to time and if you can just sail backwards for a few feet, you'll have enough "way on" in otherwards, you'll be moving enough, albeit backwards, to allow you to steer - this is where the "thinking backwards" concept comes into play...go out on a calm day with a light breeze and practice the backwards thing - purposely head the boat right into the wind, then hold the boom out and soon you'll be moving backwards....

Oh yeah, find an instructor who's patient - no one should have yelled at you for not being able to manuever your boat in high wind, they sould have SHOWN you what to do...

Have fun...
Wes
 
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