Sunfish telltale support clamp


There is another post on this forum by wjejr titled: Making a Sunfish Wind Indicator.

I made and used several of the wind direction telltales outlined in that post. They were easy to make, install on the spar, and to use. Recently I have made some more telltales that are a little different and I like these too.

My recent telltales also have stainless steel battens from a retired set of windshield wipers and a short piece of yarn. Instead of Velcro the telltales are held in place by a plastic spring-clamp.

Also used were a few wine-corks, hot glue, tape, and some light line. I think that the clamp is a little easier to fix onto and remove from the spar than the velcro straps of my earlier versions. A tether or float can be used as a safeguard.

In the next few posts I will show how I put this together.

One photo shows a completed rig with float and tether. The rubber duck will prevent the rig from sinking and the tether feeds around the Sunfish spar to prevent it from sinking should it fall into the water. Either would work alone.

The other photo shows another rig mounted on a Sunfish spar.


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When I changed my windshield wiper blades I pulled the stainless steel battens out of each of the old blades. Some wiper blades have two battens and are long enough to cut in half, this gave me four pairs so that I could make four telltales. Another pair of wiper blades only had one batten. I used a pair of diagonal-cut pliers to cut them in half.

The clamps are the Hyper Tough 4” and 6” plastic spring-clamps sold by Wal-Mart. The 4pack of 4” clamps retail for about $5, I bought a 16-pack of assorted sizes for $8.44.

The battens are shown cut and bended to shape. The synthetic wine corks were cut length-wise.


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I used a small drill to put a second hole at the end of the clamp’s handle, a split ring will go through that hole and a light line is attached to that to ring to prevent losing the telltale in case it was accidentally knocked from the spar.

I bent the battens at a 30˚ to 45˚ angle at the point where the batten fits neatly inside the handle of the clamp, about 1.5 inches from the end. This bend-angle will be adjusted later when the telltale is finished.

Slide the straight part of the clamp’s spring to one side or the other to allow the batten to fit next to it inside the clamp’s handle. then carefully glue it in place with a little hot glue.

The synthetic wine corks were cut with a knife to hold the batten firmly in place, I could make three of the pieces of wine cork from each cork. With just one batten glued in place I set a wine cork in place and drew a line on the side of the cork to guide the knife while cutting the cork to size. After cutting the cork to size I hot glued the cork in place. After glueing the first cork I went on to attach the second batten and then hot glue the other piece of cork.

The cork is also held in place with a wrapping of tape. I made five telltales (4 with the 4” clamps and one with the 6” clamps) and used Gorilla tape, electrical, and another plastic tape on them. Time will tell which is the best.


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The yarn was attached to the battens with heat-shrink tubing on some, with Gorilla tape on others, a knot may work too. Both the tape and heat-shrink seem to work equally well. Extending about 6-inches of yarn seems to work well.

Attach a short piece to line to the ring on the clamp’s handle to act as a leash. Tie or clip that line to the spar when sailing. On some rigs a small float was attached, on some both the float and tether.

Here are some things to consider when you make your own telltales:
1. Bend the end of the batten down from where the yarn is attached to keep it clear of the batten when it streams in the wind. Adjust the length of the telltale to your liking. Attach the rig where you can see it easily and where it stays clear of bow spray.
2. Instead of clamping directly to the spar, put a grippy layer between the clamp and the spar to resist twisting. Or some tape.
3. Consider using something else besides yarn, such as cassette tape or string.
4. Try bending the batten different ways. Bend it down to help the telltale stay clear of the batten or clamp. Bend it in or out to make it easy for you to see while sailing.
5. Try using other materials, except for the clamps I use what I had available.


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Given the supplies "at hand", I'll heat the tip of the stainless steel, drive it into the clamp--then add a dab of Shoe-Goo to secure it.
Thanks. That brings up something that I did not consider. The clamps that I used already had holes in a convenient place for entry of the battens, others may not. I did have to add an additional hole to attach a tether.