Two questions (hull layup schedule, deck drain plug)

Be aware that the expanding foam used to glue the structural foam blocks in place in a Sunfish sometimes expands against the inside of the transom (I have a boat with the stern completely filled with expanding foam). You can carve or punch out a channel through the foam for a transom drain, but water in the hull may not exit easily or completely through a transom drain. If foam-free I like a transom drain, but you don't really know what's inside the stern unless you go to the trouble to install a rear inspection port.

The deck drain is almost as problematic. Because of its position it's difficult to completely drain the boat even after rolling it up on edge. Your bow inspection port may be good enough (if it's free of surrounding foam). Lift the stern and open the inspection port. Sponge out if not much water, flip over and drain if the boat's a leaker.


Active Member
Going to need the 3m 5200 to bond the plug in place. Screws and
fiberglass with no backing block really don't go well together. Better
off using pop rivets if possible. If you have the old rudder system you
might as well go with a 4" inspection port. Then you can use machine screws and fender washers as well as replace all the rudder hardware with the same. The old rudder strap on the bottom of the hull will leak and eventually pull out as it used a single wood screw. I've not come across a Sunfish with the stern completely filled with foam yet. Sounds like someone was doing a Friday or Monday job. The quality of US products really did hit rock bottom in the early and mid 70's.


Well-Known Member
If you fill in the cockpit bailer hole and later decide you need to install a bailer to drain the cockpit, I sell a Phantom bailer for $2. Yes $2. Why, because I have several hundred of these bailers. Buy three for $5. Shipping extra. They require a 3/4" hole. There are 5 pieces, the lower profile clam shell for the outside hull part, flange piece for inside the cockpit, plastic disk, rubber gasket and rubber plug.

I also have deck drain plugs (see link earlier in thread).

I usually use #8 screws for deck drain plugs and Goop Marine Sealant or 3M 4200. I don't like using 3M 5200 as it is a more permanent sealant making it more difficult to remove hardware. If you use pop rivets be sure to seal the heads with sealant as those can leak.


Thread starter #24
Hey, sailcrafti, I sent you a pm. As it turns out, West Marine has a abysmally poor selection of polyester resin, so I wound up ordering the resin I need for the Sunfish repairs and spending the weekend working on my Cal 20 instead. So, long story short, I didn't get it in the water this weekend, but it should happen fairly soon.


Well-Known Member
Webfoot, I like the transom idea a lot. Would you still use 5200 on the transom or is the glass there thick enough to screw it into?
The transom is very thin. :eek: I drilled the hole with a conventional drill bit, whereupon the hole became shredded. :confused: I should have used a spade bit. I used epoxy to smooth the opening, and used a small neoprene stopper. It's worked well.

For siting the plug, pick the lower side that the boat is likely to rest. As member Roller said earlier, "excavate" through the foam with a long bit, until you get some drainage. At first, bits of foam will clog the transom drain.

Those who moor their Sunfish (and have an inspection port) should investigate those skinny, two-AA, battery-powered bailers. While they're apt to clog (and slow) they're surprisingly efficient otherwise.

At about 1/8-inch, the hull at the bailer is also thinner than the two thicknesses of the rest of the boat would suggest. My "expandable freeze plug" suggestion was a "stop-gap" measure. (Pardon the pun). :oops:

I'd like to hear more about this specter Phantom bailer, why they're so available, and how it works.
Thread starter #26
I think after considering the whole matter, I've decided I'm going to leave the deck drain where it is and put one of those plastic drain plugs in. I may have to drill a new hole or move some holes around but it still seems like the simplest option. I was considering beefing up the area by glassing a few layers of cloth over it and then screwing in the new deck drain plug, but I may just go with the 5200.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I'll wade in. I'd replace the bailer and drain plug with new or used Sunfish parts, ask around here on the Forum Wanted Ads. That is the design, why deviate? Plus if you want to sell the boat someday you'll have a wider range of buyers than if you start fiberglassing over things.

You could probably put a layer of Gorilla tape over the bailer hole inside and outside and go sailing. No need to reinforce the drain plug but I would try to find a replacement that fits into existing hole. Make sure to apply a a marine grade sealant.

Don't put an extra hole on the transom, just sponge the boat out through the inspection port. If there are more than one or two sponges worth, then you need to find and repair the leak.

You can buy 50 feet of 1/8 inch diameter New England Rope nylon line and lash on the sail with a marlin hitch, the way ALCORT used to do it. Find the halfway point and tie that to the interlocking bolt. Work half of the line up the gaff and the other half along the boom.


zip marlin hitch sail.jpg
I also agree with Signal Charlie.

My opinion is that transom plugs on Sunfish don't work all that well. Unlike some dinghies, the Sunfish has quite a bit of rocker, which means the bow has to be held high for water to reach the transom. You also have to tilt it to one side or another, in order to drain. Further there is a lot of foam in the back of the boat adhered to the hull that will interfere with the water draining properly. Finally, drain plugs can leak, or if you're like me, you can forget to screw it in before you put the boat in the water.

This past summer, my boat developed a leak which I will be chasing down soon, but in the meantime I have just used a towel to sponge it out. I put the towel in through the inspection port behind the splash rail and then put the trailer tongue on the ground so the water runs forward.

On the bailer, I would not be without one, and I would not stray from the Sunfish bailer. It works well enough, isn't that expensive, is simple and it fits. I bought a NOS de Persia when I first got the boat, but I use the plastic one as it doesn't corrode. Just me, and there are plenty of Sunfish for sail where I live, but if I was looking to buy and I saw one that had the bailer hole hacked up, or no bailer at all, I would move on automatically.

All just my opinion of course. Good luck.
Thread starter #33
Well, it's all done. I glassed over the bailer hole. I realize that's controversial for some reason but anyone who likes (including me) can reinstall it with little to no trouble. It's just a matter of knowing what size hole to cut.

When I was doing that I spotted a bad repair to the hull towards the bow. Someone had crunched it in pretty good. By the time I got all the bad glass out, I had another decent-sized hole to glass over.

The last injury I found was that someone had crunched the lip on the bow, and broken the laminate there as well. I just put some thickened epoxy on the underside to brace it up a bit since it didn't seem very extreme. I probably should have used some laminate but I can always revisit that one.

I got a little lucky with the drain plug hole. I found a plug the nearly fit, so I painted the inside of the rim with a little gel coat and now it fits, snug as a bug.

I bought new rigging and put on the infinity sail I purchased.

All in all I have about 350 bucks into the boat. I'll take some more pictures soon. This is just a quick one I snapped when we finally finished rigging it up.


Thread starter #35
Thanks! I'm going to sail it today so I'll take some pictures (if it doesn't sink or explode or something) and post them. From what I gathered reading about them, it's a '69 or '70.
Thread starter #36
I also really want to thank everybody for their help and responses in getting this setup. I've owned a few boats but they're all different and figuring out how to rig one doesn't necessarily mean you can rig the other, or repair it, or whatever.

So thank you all for the advice, photos, and information.

I never did get an answer about the layup schedule though so I will say I used alternating layers of 1.5 oz chopped strand mat and 10 oz cloth. I used seven layers starting and ending with the mat. It was a little high in some places in a little low and others so I think it's a good layup schedule and the only flaw was my poor chamfering technique. I prepped the hull for both repairs by using a 12 to 1 chamfer. Unfortunately I choose an orbital sander with 80 grit paper, so it took hours. Next time I would use a 4.5 inch grinder or much coarser paper or maybe a combination of the two.
Thread starter #39
Well, I have to get something off my chest. I cut a hole in the deck last night to put a new backing block behind the deck cleat that pulled out. As it turns out the backing black was actually fine but someone had over tightened the screw and bored out the hole which is why the cleat pulled out. So, I don't have to put a new block on (though I'm going to put a strip of aluminum underneath the block and run a bolt down through both) so that problem didn't turn out to be much of a big deal.

However, and this is the part that I am only admitting with great shame, I damaged one of the styrofoam Stringer blocks when I did it. I'm not going to say how and I'm too embarrassed to say why but there is now a chunk of Styrofoam about 8 inches long missing from one of the blocks just about a foot forward of the coaming on the starboard side. In my defense the block had already separated from the deck so there was some flex to begin with, but now there is quite a bit more flex. I guess I will try to tab some plywood in there to act as support for that particular spot and then close up the hole on the deck and hopefully never put another hole in this boat again.

If I had taken the extra time to look up where the stringers are I would have cut the hole on the right side of it as opposed to the wrong side. So, lesson learned.