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Sunfish rigging question

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Regarding this comment from bhm ......."So for this kind of sailing I only have to come about once on the whole trip, and it's not much of a loss of time to come to a dead stop to do that, and hike the boat around to the other tack with a paddle, to start the return trip. "

By working on fundamentals such as practicing tacking, you should not get stuck in irons. Your rig with the pontoons will make it harder, but hopefully with practice your tacking will improve. If you do get stuck in irons, the advice here should help you get out: WSA How To Series - How to get out of Irons - YouTube You definitely should not be needing a paddle to get out of irons - the technique here is the proven way to get out of irons.
 

bhm

Member
Here is a video of roll tacking in lighter air. It takes practice but much harder to go into irons.

Thanks. This looks like something I might be able to try, depending on how far over I can roll the boat with the outriggers on. Further than you might think; during my capsize drills with the outrigger canoe I could roll an outrigger entirely down under the water to capsize the boat just by standing on the gunwhale, so I might be able to roll the boat far enough to tack this way by standing up in the cockpit, even with the outriggers on. I'll find out next season. It will help that I plan to keep sailing at first with my sail higher up on a taller mast than you are supposed to, for the sake of more comfortable headroom under the boom, so this form of tacking wouldn't require ducking down so far, under my higher boom. (I may not have mentioned that I'm 71 years old, therefore not quite as flexible as I used to be.)

On the question of ratchet versus cleat, I understand the slogan "don't cleat the sheet" in a wide sense, to include any way of securing or tying the sheet, so that a sudden gust of wind could blow you over before you can release whatever form of mechanical attachment was holding the sheet, instead of your hand.
 

bhm

Member
Regarding this comment from bhm ......."So for this kind of sailing I only have to come about once on the whole trip, and it's not much of a loss of time to come to a dead stop to do that, and hike the boat around to the other tack with a paddle, to start the return trip. "

By working on fundamentals such as practicing tacking, you should not get stuck in irons. Your rig with the pontoons will make it harder, but hopefully with practice your tacking will improve. If you do get stuck in irons, the advice here should help you get out: WSA How To Series - How to get out of Irons - YouTube You definitely should not be needing a paddle to get out of irons - the technique here is the proven way to get out of irons.
Thanks for the link. I had read about this "sailing backwards" technique for a sternpost rudder in sailing books, but never actually saw it done. My sailing canoe had steering oars, not a rudder, so this method was not an option. So this is another thing to try next season.

PS: see separate question about replacing daggerboard versus rudder.
 
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bhm

Member
While I have Beldar's attention:

You commented on a recent video, about how someone with something called a "shadow daggerboard" should replace it (VIDEOS!).

Here are two daggerboards that I currently have. The lower wooden one is what came with the 1973 Minifish I just bought, as pictured earlier in this thread. The upper one was just sent to me by mistake from Vela Sailing, when I ordered a replacement fiberglass rudder for the wooden Minifish rudder that had split during my first attempt at a beach launch of this boat, i.e. they accidentally sent me the fiberglass daggerboard (price $299 on their website) instead of the fiberglass rudder (price $265).


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I called them when it arrived and they are sending me a shipping label to return it, but based on what you say in that other post it sounds as if I might be better off just keeping it at the discount price and using that as an upgrade to this wooden board. Especially since my quick-and-dirty repair to the split wooden rudder using lag screws seems to have performed OK on my test cruise, so maybe I didn't need to replace that rudder in a hurry after all. So maybe my $265 is better spent that way, right now?

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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I am not positive what advice to give you about the board. Everyone agrees the new one makes a significant improvement in the performance of a Sunfish, and it will on a Minifish also. However, since you are sailing with a small sail and the pontoons, the improvement may not be as pronounced. However, as you point out, the rudder is in usable shape now, but it isn't optimal given it has screw heads on the leading edge. Just like an airplane wing, the underwater foils on a boat should be smooth and reasonably flawless. What I might do is keep the board, and get a Dremel tool with a grinding bit and grind the screwheads down to approximate the leading edge of the rest of the rudder (and be careful not to gouge the surrounding wood with the Dremel.)

Two more overall comments. If you are racing a Sunfish in major events, then it is important to have class legal parts like your new board. But since you are not sailing a Sunfish, there is no need to pay the extra cost of class legal parts. Intensitysails.com sells top quality rudders and boards that are the same shape as the legal parts but much less expensive.

Next, the ratchet block is not at all equivalent to a cleat. Using a ratchet block is not like cleating at all. All it does is gives your hand a break by reducing the pull on your hand. If you let go of the sheet, the sail goes out! If you watch this video, you will see an example of how it works Ratchet Block Demo - YouTube Note they are bypassing the cleat in the video. I strongly recommend against cleats unless you are a knowledgeable sailor, but I ratchets are great for anyone.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I called them when it arrived and they are sending me a shipping label to return it, but based on what you say in that other post it sounds as if I might be better off just keeping it at the discount price and using that as an upgrade to this wooden board. Especially since my quick-and-dirty repair to the split wooden rudder using lag screws seems to have performed OK on my test cruise, so maybe I didn't need to replace that rudder in a hurry after all. So maybe my $265 is better spent that way, right now?
Nice job of threading lag screws into the rudder. :cool: :cool: (Two rare "cools"). ;)

I use a lot of lags (lag-screws or lag-bolts) around my property's "projects". What I've found is that lag screws are never as tight as the first time they're in place. I'd give them a season of use, dry the wood, and only then grind away to "fair" them to the leading edge. Barring misadventure, you shan't need to touch them a third time.

However, given the unforeseen misadventure :( take the time to epoxy the bare edges—replace the lags—wait another season, then tighten "snug" and fair again.

BTW 1: Harbor Freight has "bumped" their prices (from $9.50), but I think you can still get their 4-inch hand grinder for $12 to make "short work" of fairing steel (or fiberglass).

BTW 2: You're in the online company of many Sunfish sailors who are over the age of 71... :)
 

bhm

Member
Nice job of threading lag screws into the rudder. :cool: :cool: (Two rare "cools"). ;)

I use a lot of lags (lag-screws or lag-bolts) around my property's "projects". What I've found is that lag screws are never as tight as the first time they're in place. I'd give them a season of use, dry the wood, and only then grind away to "fair" them to the leading edge. Barring misadventure, you shan't need to touch them a third time.
Thanks. I have a lot more experience with woodworking than with sailboats.

On re-tightening lag screws, a timber framer once told me that this issue arises because mill lumber always shrinks somewhat as it dries out over the first season, and for that reason it is better to use through-and-through hex bolts if you can, which are easier to tighten up next season. But this 48-year old piece of mahogany is probably as dried out as it is going to get, so if I decide to grind down those bolt heads I will probably go ahead and do it this winter.

But rather than use a hand-held device, I think I would do that with the 5-inch bench grinder that someone gave me recently, visible in the second rudder pic. I think this would make it easier to match the angle of the rudder blade, by resting it on a support and leaning it in to the grinder wheel at a fixed angle, like a lathe only in reverse, i.e. leaning the workpiece into the rotating cutting wheel rather than leaning the chisel into the rotating workpiece.

However, I'm not sure how much of the bolt heads I would want to take off, since that is also what is mainly holding the split part in place, since the shanks of the bolts are smooth where they pass through the split part, and with the heads shaved too far down (i.e. like finish nails) the split part might gradually work lose. I might just leave it as is.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
"However, I'm not sure how much of the bolt heads I would want to take off, since that is also what is mainly holding the split part in place, since the shanks of the bolts are smooth where they pass through the split part, and with the heads shaved too far down (i.e. like finish nails) the split part might gradually work lose. I might just leave it as is."

Good point. What if you take everything apart, fill the threaded holes with epoxy, put epoxy on the joint between the two pieces, and fill the unthreaded holes with epoxy, and then screw it back together before the epoxy kicks. I think you could grind down the boltheads and that will likely NEVER come apart.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
But rather than use a hand-held device, I think I would do that with the 5-inch bench grinder that someone gave me recently, visible in the second rudder pic. I think this would make it easier to match the angle of the rudder blade, by resting it on a support and leaning it in to the grinder wheel at a fixed angle, like a lathe only in reverse, i.e. leaning the workpiece into the rotating cutting wheel rather than leaning the chisel into the rotating workpiece.

However, I'm not sure how much of the bolt heads I would want to take off, since that is also what is mainly holding the split part in place, since the shanks of the bolts are smooth where they pass through the split part, and with the heads shaved too far down (i.e. like finish nails) the split part might gradually work lose. I might just leave it as is.
My first choice, as well... ;)

(That is, a larger bench grinder with a coarse grinding wheel. Why heat the metal unnecessarily?)

BTW: I agree with beldar bolthead. :)
 
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bhm

Member
What if you take everything apart, fill the threaded holes with epoxy, put epoxy on the joint between the two pieces, and fill the unthreaded holes with epoxy, and then screw it back together before the epoxy kicks. I think you could grind down the boltheads and that will likely NEVER come apart.
Epoxy on the joint is no longer an option, since for my original quick fix (as I then viewed it), I already glued and clamped the pieces together with the ordinary water-based wood glue I had on hand, just to hold it while I drilled it for the lags. But re-driving the lags with epoxy in the holes sounds good, and if I do get around to grinding down the hex heads during the winter I'll do that first. But there's a lot of other stuff to work on above the waterline that comes ahead of this on my current to-do list.

Thanks to Beldar for the reference to Intensitysails.com for a cheaper fiberglass rudder. In view of that I will keep this fiberglass daggerboard that Vela Sailing sent me instead of a rudder -- even though actually, that too is the "recreational, non-class-legal" version. Then I can start out with the old wooden board in the Spring, so I can beat it up some more while I learn how to beach the boat without dragging the board, before switching to the new fiberglass one after I know better what I'm doing, and then also may be able to see better how much of a difference it makes to how the boat sails.
 
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