Too Quick to Cut

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
It seems like inspection ports are all the rage. I cut a port (never larger than 5”) only when upgrading to the ‘new style’ rudder or when the boat is grossly overweight and needs the fan dry out method.
I bought a beautiful ‘79 Sunfish on Saturday (dirty and complete, just like I like ‘em!) I will do a leak test, but the boat feels light and dry.
The problem is I can confirm how nice the interior is because I can practically stick my head through the 8” port the previous owner installed. He was ready to install a second one (see circle outlined at stern) and I’m so glad he hesitated!
I know there are benefits to a port, but the first line of defense should be to find and repair any leaks.
Putting a drain in the stern is another common ‘solution’. Not a smart thing to do!
I’m probably preaching to the choir on this forum, but the Facebook forum for Sunfish must get a percentage on port sales. It seems everybody’s happily cutting up their boats! There’s some really BAD advice on that forum, too. I rarely comment anymore- it’s like spitting in the wind.
 

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I do agree with the sentiments regarding the FB (Sunfish-Sailfish sailboat repair) group expressed above, although I wouldn't use such strong words. Moreover, there is at least one person in that group whom I totally trust... :)

More in general though, there are situations where installing a port makes a lot of sense; there are multiple examples on this forum.
 
Putting a drain in the stern is another common ‘solution’. Not a smart thing to do!
I’m probably preaching to the choir on this forum, but the Facebook forum for Sunfish must get a percentage on port sales. It seems everybody’s happily cutting up their boats! There’s some really BAD advice on that forum, too. I rarely comment anymore- it’s like spitting in the wind.
I had to find out the hard way... :(

Drilling through the transom disclosed fiberglass only the thickness of a postcard. :oops: Even a neoprene cork couldn't stop leakage into the hull--plus, successful draining could only be done on a very steep ramp.

My Porpoise II had a one-way transom drain made of brass. They'd placed it in the upper right corner, so storing the boat with the deck down was probably intended. :rolleyes:
 
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We should have a Forum Advice Bingo card or Tic Tac Toe sheet. Inspection port is definitely a square, "How much is my boat worth another," Polyester vs epoxy resin a third. In this forum you get tagged for sailing with The Geezer Rig.

As for fb pages, please comment, there needs to be more sanity out there, if nothing else for those of us who also read and comment. Or come join us on our fb pages, either Small Boat Restoration or The Sunfish Owners Manual.
 
Dsoc, other than the black plastic wrap and a long time in the sun what methods do you use to dry out a waterlogged boat without at least one port?
How do you upgrade an old rudder without a port in the stern to attach backer plate to gudgeon?
 
Options...

When the Alcort warranty folks upgraded rudders they split the deck/hull seam, did the work, then seal it all back up. Same for backer blocks and wet foam replacement. Howie Picard has tutored us on those procedures and sent us his vintage spring clamps, replete with remnants of poly resin and expanding foam. A few of them have neat spreader bars welded on that spread clamp pressure over a wider surface, there's a couple in the photo below on the stern. We got the boat below with the holes already cut. One of these days we might start glassing those cutouts back into place like mixmkr does.

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BUT, once a deck plate is cut amidships, lots of good things can happen there. That's a great place to reach backers, trunk and step. Nice place to sponge out dribbles that find their way in vs a transom drain.

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You’re right, SC, I didn’t even think about splitting the seam as an option because I’ve never done it and it has always been thought of as Extreme to me- but certainly the most viable option to avoiding a port and easy access once you’ve folded back the deck!

And cudos to mixmkr for his technique, for sure.
Yes, at least the 8” port is in the best location for sponging out any water after a sail and providing access to many areas. I can also store a small paddle!
 
The dry bag option is a good one also.

Those folks that cut a port hole on their new Sunfish and took out the air bladder...maybe I'd have kept that bladder and used it for storing beverages, snacks, etc...
 
Is there specific guidance when to split a (Sunfish) boat versus inspection holes and fans for being waterlogged?
Boat has trim and rivets if that makes a difference.
TIA!
 
Depends on what needs to be repaired, how much needs to be repaired and how long of a time one wants to spend drying foam. For halyard cleat and halyard fairlead it is impossible to reach them from the side without messing with the foam blocks.

To remove wet yellow adhesive foam in the bow and stern, we split the seams, but we are one of the few that do other than Old School Alcort warranty folks. We wouldn't mess up a pristine deck to replace bow handle backer blocks or do a rudder conversion.

One of the ideas I like (mixmkr?) but we haven't done yet is to cut the access hole from the bottom, do the repair and then fiberglass the cutout piece back into place. What is left behind is a saw kerf wide circle to gelcoat or paint.
 
I’m looking at having to cut the keel under the cockpit to repair some cracking due to an errant trailer roller. Also going to replace the deck block for the halyard eye fairlead and cleat.
 
Thanks SC, deck is non-ported and nicer (8/10) than bottom (6/10), hull is currently 100# overweight after initial draining. A couple known weeping holes down low, have yet to pressure test. As the hull is barrel-rolled, water comes out from under the deck in the footwell and from the coaming (riveted). Other hardware gudgeon / padeyes / fairlead/ cleat / handle/ trim do not seem loose or weepy.
 
Corprin, are going to remove the keel piece, fix boat, fix the keel piece, put it back in or make a new keel piece or ?
 
My favorite tool for this type of fiberglass work is a oscillating multi-tool with a good blade. The inexpensive blades will dull quickly.
Hoping it doesn't come to 'Sawzall dates' for either of our boats.
 
I have several ports in my boat. I had to put three in in order to install my hiking strap. I didn’t see any way around it. I also like storing things inside the hull. It doesn’t seem that it affects the boat in any way negatively.

I have a drain plug on the transom that was there when I bought the boat. I can drain water out of it easily. It balances so well on the dolly it tips back no problem.

The boat is a bit of a leaker but not in a big way. Maybe a few cups of water after a few hours of windy and choppy water sailing. I’ll get around to leak testing it in the fall.
 
Every Sunfish I have purchased so far was over 40 years old and grossly overweight and needed some serious drying out, so after doing a lot of reading I put in the usual 2 ports in order to dry them out. I assumed that was normal. But we are planning on buying a much new Sunfish next week. After reading the above I think we will hold off on putting in inspection ports for another 20 or 30 years!
 
One of the ideas I like (mixmkr?) but we haven't done yet is to cut the access hole from the bottom, do the repair and then fiberglass the cutout piece back into place. What is left behind is a saw kerf wide circle to gelcoat or paint.

This idea resonated with me. Dug through some bins and found a 12vdc /.13A fan (complete with LED's) and other tools (drill, carbide blade for saber saw) materials (homemade wooden stand-offs, fiberglass scrap caps) to make 2 holes in the bottom, screened to keep out insects and covered to prevent direct intrusion of rainwater and a small amount of butyl for good measure. The fan was suceptible to being bent/tweaked to the point the blades hit the scren over the hull so the screws had to be tightened gently. Battery will be maintained via solar.

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