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Sunfish vs Minifish?

Weston

Active Member
Reading about how much Seaotter, Cactus and Tag love their minifishes, I’m pondering getting one myself. Before I do, I would like to better understand how the Minifish behaves differently than the Sunfish. I understand that the Minifish is really a one person boat and, due to the reduced sail area, can be taken out in winds that it might not e possible to take a Sunfish out. I’ve also heard that the Mini is a wetter ride. Beyond those basics, I’m curious how the two types of fish compare in various conditions: low wind, moderate wind, and high wind. Are there times when it makes more sense to be in the larger Sunfish vs. the Mini?

thanks in advance for sharing your experiences
 

Seaotter5

Active Member
first of all, I don’t think that a Minifish does better in high winds than a Sunfish, as it has a narrower beam. And while it has a hiking strap it is (imho) too hard to use, and the cockpit rim has no place to lock your feet while hiking out. The Mini can be hard to keep upright in strong winds.
Is she wetter? I don’t know how one quantifies that, I have never really noticed any difference. I get wet on both of them.
Performance: I weigh around 180. With low winds I am really too heavy for the Mini. I suspect that with a lighter person a Mini might out perform a Sunfish. Because of her length and the difficulty of hiking out, the Mini would be at a significant disadvantage in high or medium winds.
TBH, a Mini really doesn’t sail as well as a Sunfish in almost every way.
So why do I like my Mini? First of all she is lighter. In general the lighter the boat, the more often it will be used. I sail my Mini almost every week, far more than I used my Sunfish.
Second, she turns more quickly due to her lower mass and shorter length. I sail on small narrow lakes, so being able to tack and gybe quickly is important.
Third, the Mini is much easier to use a kayak paddle with. That’s probably not relevant for most people, but I like to go exploring up creeks and shallow coves. And it’s amusing to be able to tow other boats back to the dock when the wind dies.
Finally, in my thankfully limited experience, the Mini is easier to right after a capsize.
But in the end it comes down to weight. The Sunfish is better in the water, but the Mini is easier to get there!
Understand, tho, that I am not a very experienced or skillful sailer. Better sailers would undoubtably have more informed responses.
Those are the attributes that are quantifiable. The real reason I like my Minifish is not easy to measure. She suits me, and she makes me smile.
And so does the Sunfish. I plan on getting one soon. With a trailer. But that’s mainly because my wife has decided that she wants to sail in the Bay and see dolphins. She is not going to enjoy doing that on my Mini or my Sailfish!
But when it’s just me, I’ll still be out on my Mini. With a big smile on my face.
 

tag

my2fish
I bought the Minifish for my sons - but at 245 lbs, I'm probably too big and not nearly athletic and limber enough to sail the Mini.
My oldest son is now 19, probably 200 lbs, and while he *can* sail the Minifish, he prefers the Sunfish.
 

Seaotter5

Active Member
Breeze Bender speaks...everyone should listen...

And it sounds like someone is quietly building an Alcort/AMF collection :)
lol, my collection will soon be complete. I had planned on buying a few small sailboats to use with family and friends, but I wasn’t thinking specifically of Alcort designs. TBH, the interchangeable parts (and parts availability) had a lot to do with my choices. but I was able to find all three boats and a trailer for less than 1/4 of a new boat. That’s a pretty good deal.
BTW, My wife is a first grade teacher. My four sailboats are named One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, and Blue fish. Anyone with grandkids will get it. Joni is going to paint their names and suitable art work on them next Spring. The Grumman sailing canoe doesn’t fit the whole “Fish” theme, but that’s ok.
 

Dsoc

New Member
There is a Minifish in Easton Maryland with dolly.
 

Weston

Active Member
My four sailboats are named One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, and Blue fish. Anyone with grandkids will get it. Joni is going to paint their names and suitable art work on them next Spring. The Grumman sailing canoe doesn’t fit the whole “Fish” theme, but that’s ok.
Love it. You can continue the theme in a different way for your canoe with one of these names:
  • Green eggs and ham
  • How about the Boogle house
  • Hop on pop


  • or how about, Dr. Seuss!
Green eggs and ham
How about the bugle house
Hop on pop
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
The Minifish is definitely easier to cartop, and I routinely took passengers aboard her too, but that was in good breeze... and the Mini kind of chose me while I was perusing the C/L boat ads, had it been a Sunfish for $200 I would've bought her instead. I was just looking for something inexpensive to fix up so I could get back out on the water... and the cosmos sent the Mini my way. :rolleyes:

After watching AIR's Isle Royale videos, I have more respect for the Sunfish, though I've always been a diehard Laser man. Again, the Laser chose me since she was already in the family, so to speak... had to fix her up too, a royal PITA, but she was worth every bit of effort. IMHO, all these craft are fun & seaworthy, while getting out on the water is the greatest priority. :cool:
 

Weston

Active Member
Weston, Get the Mini!
Seaotter, Get the Sunfish!
I’ve got both and love both.
More smiles all around.
Ha you are getting me closer, but I'm still a bit on the fence, BreezeBender.

What are the situations where you enjoy your mini more than your sunfish?

I'm able to singlehandedly launch the Sunfish from a trailer, so the car-top-ability of the Minifish isn't a factor for me. The justification for me would be if there were situations where I wouldn't enjoy going out in the sunfish, but the mini would be the right choice. I was originally thinking that in higher winds the smaller sailplan of the mini would let me go out when I would be afraid of losing control in the sunfish.... or conversely, if the lightness the mini would give me opportunities to plane in lighter wind conditions that wouldn't let my sunfish plane. But now that Beldar Boathead has educated me on how to reef a Sunfish, maybe I don't need a separate boat to get a smaller sailplan when winds are high...

Another thought... my wife might find it easier to manage the Minifish than my Sunfish....hmm, getting closer..
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
As I get a little older (and today’s my birthday) I find the Mini to be the go-to for a spontaneous sail because it’s so light and easy for me to pull down the dirt road to the boat launch. I still take the Sunfish out about as often, but I like having the choice. And with 4 brothers it’s nice to have another boat or two to offer up when they visit, so I have 2 Minis! I guess I’m a big fan.
If your wife has an interest in sailing that’s all the more reason- a Mini makes a great gift!
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
'Guess I'm lucky.

I have a carpet of thick grass on which to pull my Sunfish down to the water. ;)

...and you've posted after Midnight, so today I can wish you a Happy Birthday! :)
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Thanks, my Sunfish pals! L&VW you are very observant- today is my birthday. I’m very lucky, too- spending this beautiful day doing my favorite things: sailing, swimming, playing with my pup and hangin’ with good friends. Then my favorite pizza spot for dinner on the porch (dog friendly, of course!)
 

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Seaotter5

Active Member
'Guess I'm lucky.

I have a carpet of thick grass on which to pull my Sunfish down to the water. ;)

...and you've posted after Midnight, so today I can wish you a Happy Birthday! :)
I was pondering the Minifish/Sunfish question as I packed up my kayaks for a camping trip this weekend (yes, I am taking my Minifish as well) I have a 16 foot Old Town tandem/solo kayak. It is fast, comfortable, and can carry a huge load of camping gear. It can handle almost any kind of weather, wind, and waves that I am likely to encounter. It was originally quite expensive, and Old Town is a quality brand.
My wife’s kayak is a cheap 9 foot pelican brand kayak. It is at best a mediocre kayak in many ways.It’s best feature is that it has a kind of dry storage area where you can put your wallet. It is the type of kayak that paddlers laugh at. My wife wanted it because it was purple, and we bought it because she wasn’t sure that, after 30 years of paddling together in one boat, she really wanted her own.
Ok, this is my point: in many ways her boat is more fun.
It is so small and light that it is a joy to paddle. It is maneuverable almost to a fault. It is easy to launch and recover. It is just a lot less hassle to deal with. It has been a great boat for her to learn on.
That’s kind of what the Sunfish/Minifish comparison is like (although the Minifish is just as well built as the Sunfish. I think it is Actually more rigid). The Minifish is more maneuverable and easier to control. Especially if you don’t weigh a lot. It is a great boat to learn on because it gives one immediate feed back. It is a case where less is more in some ways.
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Well said, Seaotter5, sometimes less is more... I remember trying a Sunfish a long time ago, after I had my Laser for a while, and I recall thinking, "This boat sucks compared to my Laser." Maybe it was just the wrong day, with mediocre winds and unfavorable tides or whatever, but the Sunfish seemed to lack the 'energy' & pizazz of the Laser. Plus I didn't think much of the cockpit, as I was already used to the Laser cockpit. :confused:

Fast forward a few decades, with a gap between Laser ownership and Minifish purchase... as soon as I had restored the Mini and made her seaworthy, I went sailing and I was favorably impressed by how 'light' and nimble the boat was, aye? My Laser used to turn on a dime, but the Mini turned on a dime and gave me nine cents change, LOL. Took some getting used to the funky stern end, but unlike the Sunfish, the deck plan of the Mini was more similar to the Laser. :D

The cockpit too, it's quite similar, though the hiking strap is different... dunno why the Mini designers wanted it that way, but no big deal, I just got used to it. I almost reoriented it on several occasions but ultimately couldn't be bothered, as I was having too much fun sailing the Mini every chance I got. I could break it down further and point out different handling characteristics, but the Mini always seemed closer in performance to the Laser than the Sunfish, despite the lateen rig. :rolleyes:

If I had to choose one adjective to describe the Mini, I guess it would be "nimble"---like riding a rice rocket instead of a heavy Harley, if that makes any sense to you who've never ridden bikes. I still recall sliding off the boat as if shot from a cannon on one wet spray-filled day, when I tacked too sharply with the Mini and the wet deck (combined with my wet shorts) led to an immediate slide. No nonskid on deck, I always liked the deck smooth so I could shift position more easily. ;)

Meh, the unexpected swim off Point Loma felt refreshing, and I only had to swim a short distance to retrieve the Mini... damned boat had briefly sailed away on her own before rounding up into irons. Nobody around either, except perhaps some tourists visiting Cabrillo National Monument atop the Point, but they were far enough away that nobody could possibly recognize me... just some fool taking a "sharp tack swim" on a sunny but breezy day. No harm, no foul... :cool:

WELL, NO LUCK WITH THE GLAMPING PHOTOS YET, BUT THEY MIGHT STILL BE ON THAT RCA TABLET... GOTTA GET CLEANED UP AND RUN TO THE STORE TO RESUPPLY FOR THE WEEKEND. HAVE A GOOD TIME THIS WEEKEND, SEAOTTER5, SOUNDS LIKE FUN... CHEERS!!! :)
 
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Seaotter5

Active Member
I was pondering the Minifish/Sunfish question as I packed up my kayaks for a camping trip this weekend (yes, I am taking my Minifish as well) I have a 16 foot Old Town tandem/solo kayak. It is fast, comfortable, and can carry a huge load of camping gear. It can handle almost any kind of weather, wind, and waves that I am likely to encounter. It was originally quite expensive, and Old Town is a quality brand.
My wife’s kayak is a cheap 9 foot pelican brand kayak. It is at best a mediocre kayak in many ways.It’s best feature is that it has a kind of dry storage area where you can put your wallet. It is the type of kayak that paddlers laugh at. My wife wanted it because it was purple, and we bought it because she wasn’t sure that, after 30 years of paddling together in one boat, she really wanted her own.
Ok, this is my point: in many ways her boat is more fun.
It is so small and light that it is a joy to paddle. It is maneuverable almost to a fault. It is easy to launch and recover. It is just a lot less hassle to deal with. It has been a great boat for her to learn on.
That’s kind of what the Sunfish/Minifish comparison is like (although the Minifish is just as well built as the Sunfish. I think it is Actually more rigid). The Minifish is more maneuverable and easier to control. Especially if you don’t weigh a lot. It is a great boat to learn on because it gives one immediate feed back. It is a case where less is more in some ways.
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