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Using a Sunfish for sailing/camping

JPitman

New Member
Does anyone have experience using a sunfish as the means of transport for a camping adventure?

I have enjoyed canoe camping in the past and am thinking it might be a better way to go being solar powered so to speak.

I can invision needing to tow a small lightweight waterproof cargo boat behind.

Assuming it doesn't screw up the hydrodynamics to the point you can't sail or tack, you would need a long stiff hitch of sorts, perhaps a fiberglass rod and rope - the rod to keep the cargo boat from plowing into the sailboat should you decelerate quickly (flip), the rope for additional pulling strength.

Do you think this is possible or too much of a PITA?

Any comments would be apreciated.
 

Clyde

Member
I agree towing is not the answer. You can stow stuff on deck between the daggerboard and mast in a waterproof pack. It was done all the time in the Connecticut River "race".
 

JPitman

New Member
Ayeh, hadn't considered the drag thing and how it would alter the theoretical center of the boat. You see large sailboats draging dingies once in a while but in that case I suppose the additional drag is negligible.

Cool article at mindspring. Sounds like alot of work but quite ideal in the end.

I'll check ou the book references.

Thanks everyone.
 
Just joining and wondering if JPitman ever used your Sunfish for camping. I have been camping with mine several times with no major modifications, and it's worked quite well. I certainly would not tow, but there's no need anyway. Feel free to check out my YouTube Channel, Adventures In Reach if you would like to take a look. There's one video called Sunfish Sailboat Camping and another called Sunfish Sailboat Camping: The Campsite which may give folks some ideas and inspiration. I am also planning a trip to and around Isle Royale this summer with my Sunfish. That should be about 150 miles.
 

Seaotter5

Active Member
I have been enjoying your videos, and mentioned them in an earlier thread. Well worth watching!

Just joining and wondering if JPitman ever used your Sunfish for camping. I have been camping with mine several times with no major modifications, and it's worked quite well. I certainly would not tow, but there's no need anyway. Feel free to check out my YouTube Channel, Adventures In Reach if you would like to take a look. There's one video called Sunfish Sailboat Camping and another called Sunfish Sailboat Camping: The Campsite which may give folks some ideas and inspiration. I am also planning a trip to and around Isle Royale this summer with my Sunfish. That should be about 150 miles.
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
I can invision needing to tow a small lightweight waterproof cargo boat behind. Do you think this is possible or too much of a PITA?
Yes, it will work. Here's proof. I towed my daughter (120 lbs) and her boyfriend (210 lbs) in our purple kayak upwind, in light wind, in my Laser... with my wife (110 lbs) sitting up front in my Laser.
So as to not risk pulling out the 2 traveler fairleads in the stern, we attached the tow rope further forward (can't remember exactly where). Here's the video.

However, as others have pointed out, put all the camping gear you possibly can on the Sunfish and tow as little weight as you can. Here's an example as to why. I towed Phil in his Sunfish downwind for a long ways with him in his Sunfish when his rudder hardware failed.

But having towed a lot of marine craft with various motorboats when I lived back east on the coast, we then moved him from his Sunfish to my Laser so the Sunfish was empty and the difference was amazing. Way better. Less drag.

- Andy
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Good to see the resurrection of a boat camping thread... I started 'Laser camping' in '92, and I found the minimalist approach works best, no towing involved. Dry bags are your best friends, those 'Baja Bags' seen in AIR's videos look good! Ya want bulletproof gear for these overnight camping voyages... inferior gear that doesn't work should be replaced with better gear, one night spent in a damp sleeping bag will certainly convince ya, LOL. :rolleyes:

Adventures In Reach (or AIR), kudos to ya for getting out there and DOING it, aye? Boat camping ROCKS!!! Er... don't HIT the rocks, just get your boat ashore as best you can, at least on offshore islands in the ocean. Anchoring a boat off Los Coronados in Baja meant swimming ashore in shark-infested waters, with no guarantee that the anchor would hold either... so I always made a point of dragging my Laser ashore, taking care to avoid damage to her hull. :eek:

Part of my minimalist approach stems from being a technical rock climber, part of it stems from being a disciple of Zen Buddhism... it's amazing what sort of adventures one can have aboard a 14' sailboat, using dry bags, soft coolers, a little ingenuity while loading, etc. I don't regret one minute of those numerous voyages to the islands, regardless of occasional minor discomfort... every voyage paid in spades on a spiritual level. ;)

SO KEEP ON TRUCKIN'... ER, I MEAN SAILBOAT CAMPING... THE REWARDS ALWAYS OUTWEIGH THE EFFORT INVOLVED. CHEERS!!! :cool:
 
Good to see the resurrection of a boat camping thread... I started 'Laser camping' in '92, and I found the minimalist approach works best, no towing involved. Dry bags are your best friends, those 'Baja Bags' seen in AIR's videos look good! Ya want bulletproof gear for these overnight camping voyages... inferior gear that doesn't work should be replaced with better gear, one night spent in a damp sleeping bag will certainly convince ya, LOL. :rolleyes:

Adventures In Reach (or AIR), kudos to ya for getting out there and DOING it, aye? Boat camping ROCKS!!! Er... don't HIT the rocks, just get your boat ashore as best you can, at least on offshore islands in the ocean. Anchoring a boat off Los Coronados in Baja meant swimming ashore in shark-infested waters, with no guarantee that the anchor would hold either... so I always made a point of dragging my Laser ashore, taking care to avoid damage to her hull. :eek:

Part of my minimalist approach stems from being a technical rock climber, part of it stems from being a disciple of Zen Buddhism... it's amazing what sort of adventures one can have aboard a 14' sailboat, using dry bags, soft coolers, a little ingenuity while loading, etc. I don't regret one minute of those numerous voyages to the islands, regardless of occasional minor discomfort... every voyage paid in spades on a spiritual level. ;)

SO KEEP ON TRUCKIN'... ER, I MEAN SAILBOAT CAMPING... THE REWARDS ALWAYS OUTWEIGH THE EFFORT INVOLVED. CHEERS!!! :cool:
I know what you mean. Just one night out in the wind, sun, and nature feels like several days to the soul.
I use 1-2 boat fenders to roll it onshore, which seems to work quite well. I'd be curious to hear more about Baja. I have considered sailing down there...but definitely don't want to be needing to swim near sharks.
I ordered some foam decking to make it a bit more comfy. That should be here this week and I'll post a video about the install and thoughts.
I love the minimalist approach as well. Less stuff to deal with, more part of the environment, and more approachable.
If folks are interested, I can give updates and let you know about the next camping videos.
 

lckeffer

Member
I'm interested. Please keeps us informed. I would like to know more about your choice of gear and how well you feel it works out for your trips.

Rick
 
I loved watching your videos and see the enjoyment of the outdoors life. Very inspirational! I must get out on the water more often!





Just joining and wondering if JPitman ever used your Sunfish for camping. I have been camping with mine several times with no major modifications, and it's worked quite well. I certainly would not tow, but there's no need anyway. Feel free to check out my YouTube Channel, Adventures In Reach if you would like to take a look. There's one video called Sunfish Sailboat Camping and another calledSunfish Sailboat Camping: The Campsite which may give folks some ideas and inspiration. I am also planning a trip to and around Isle Royale this summer with my Sunfish. That should be about 150 miles.
 

Fremont

Member
I am also planning a trip to and around Isle Royale this summer with my Sunfish. That should be about 150 miles.
Seriously? I've been considering circumnavigating and cruise-camping Isle Royale with my Hobie. I've been concerned if the shoreline is friendly to beaching, or at least accessing in a storm. I've never been to Isle Royale, so am pretty intimidated by Lake Superior. Tales of the Edmund Fitzgerald always spring into my mind!
 

Fremont

Member
Just joining and wondering if JPitman ever used your Sunfish for camping. I have been camping with mine several times with no major modifications, and it's worked quite well. I certainly would not tow, but there's no need anyway. Feel free to check out my YouTube Channel, Adventures In Reach if you would like to take a look. There's one video called Sunfish Sailboat Camping and another calledSunfish Sailboat Camping: The Campsite which may give folks some ideas and inspiration. I am also planning a trip to and around Isle Royale this summer with my Sunfish. That should be about 150 miles.
Just watched your videos. Most excellent! 2 questions...do you filter lake water for drinking and cooking? If not, what is your water supply? And (3rd and 4th questions, I guess...) What do you bring for food? Freeze dried backpacking food?
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Haha, Fremont, I remember that tune... "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot. I even dredged up a link:


AIR, you can see some pics of the islands and read several stories of my initial voyages in my "Laser Island Voyages" thread, Posts #1 and #2. If you follow the link and directions in Post #3, you can see some shots of sailing a 12' Minifish the length of the Salton Sea... another grand adventure. :cool:

Keep up the good work & keep posting those videos, they'll certainly inspire some folks to get out there and enjoy Nature... moi, I can't think of a funner way to go camping, and I've done all kinds of remote camping using various modes of transport. With a boat, you get the best of both worlds... Cheers!!! :rolleyes:
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Seriously? I've been considering circumnavigating and cruise-camping Isle Royale with my Hobie. I've been concerned if the shoreline is friendly to beaching, or at least accessing in a storm. I've never been to Isle Royale, so am pretty intimidated by Lake Superior. Tales of the Edmund Fitzgerald always spring into my mind!
When the skies of November turn gloomy...
What a great song that is.
 

tag

my2fish
I sailed my Sunfish and my son sailed our Minifish on Lake Superior but we were in the sheltered bay near Munising two summers ago. We got lucky and had a relatively calm day but nice wind. Have now sailed in 4 out of 5 Great Lakes.

That being said... I’d be very cautious about any long duration sailing trip, especially on a Sunfish, on the waters of Lake Superior. The Great Lakes can change from flat calm to insane waves day to day, sometimes even in the same day, and you wouldn’t want to be caught in those conditions.

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Seriously? I've been considering circumnavigating and cruise-camping Isle Royale with my Hobie. I've been concerned if the shoreline is friendly to beaching, or at least accessing in a storm. I've never been to Isle Royale, so am pretty intimidated by Lake Superior. Tales of the Edmund Fitzgerald always spring into my mind!
It will be a pretty serious trip. The campsites have docks and there are some places to pull up. I will listen to the weather channels on my marine radio each morning and look at conditions before launching. I'll be planning each day with coves to duck into and camp if it turns bad. I'm planning extra time into my trip so I don't feel pressured to sail if it's dangerous conditions. I've led sea kayaking trips around the Apostle Islands and previously kayaked to Isle Royale (with my girlfriend who had never kayaked before), went backpacking for 5 days, before kayaking back...so I have some familiarity. I will have equipment, supplies, and an emergency bag to sustain me for a day floating in the water in case the worst possible happened. I'll post videos on the trip and you can see if you want to go.
 
Just watched your videos. Most excellent! 2 questions...do you filter lake water for drinking and cooking? If not, what is your water supply? And (3rd and 4th questions, I guess...) What do you bring for food? Freeze dried backpacking food?
I always drink the lake water. This last trip I used a SteriPen, which was fast, easy, and didn't add a bad taste. I don't bring freeze dried--too salty and expensive. I actually brought a salad, eggs, cheese, and fresh fruits/veggies in a foil bubble envelope with a freeze pack last time. I make a pasta dish and an omelet in a bag too. No point in going light if I'm not carrying the weight on my back!
 
I sailed my Sunfish and my son sailed our Minifish on Lake Superior but we were in the sheltered bay near Munising two summers ago. We got lucky and had a relatively calm day but nice wind. Have now sailed in 4 out of 5 Great Lakes.

That being said... I’d be very cautious about any long duration sailing trip, especially on a Sunfish, on the waters of Lake Superior. The Great Lakes can change from flat calm to insane waves day to day, sometimes even in the same day, and you wouldn’t want to be caught in those conditions.

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Agreed. I've been out kayaking and in the matter of 3 hours it went from glass smooth to 3.5 foot waves. The crossing will take 4-8 hours depending on the wind, so I'm certainly prepping for the worst conditions and planning extra time to wait it out if needed.
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
I don't bring freeze dried--too salty and expensive. I actually brought a salad, eggs, cheese, and fresh fruits/veggies in a foil bubble envelope with a freeze pack last time. I make a pasta dish and an omelet in a bag too. No point in going light if I'm not carrying the weight on my back!
Haha, good point... I always brought gourmet food with me on my voyages, why NOT when you're having such a grand adventure? That's part of the deal, being able to break out some tasty & nutritious food while you're in the wilderness. I'd take smoothies, gourmet sandwiches with the works, tasty leftover dishes from my fridge, the whole nine yards. Tupperware or other hard but light plastic containers work great for food protection, though quart & gallon Zip-Loc Bags come in handy for certain snack items. :rolleyes:

Funny thing, I was the same way while trucking & touring the Lower 48 and southern Canadian provinces: I'd stock a thermoelectric cooler with all the foods I usually ate, including fresh veggies, fruit smoothies, gourmet foods in plastic tubs, etc. If I were in the breakfast mood, I'd bust out some cereal with berries and bananas, topped with delicious milk & honey... no point in choking down greasy & salty fast food cr@p when ya have options. I suppose it's a mindset: no compromise when it comes to enjoying your favorite foods! And sailing is no different! :cool:
 

Fremont

Member
AIR, you are an inspiration! I subscribed to your youtube channel, great videos! My Hobie should be easy by comparison. I've got lots of room to pack way too much gear, and an outboard motor if I need to get somewhere in a hurry. Too late for this year, plus my adventure buddy is recovering from an awful mountain bike crash. So I'll pull my charts out and start planning next year's trip! I also think the Apostle Islands would be a great camp cruising destination.

Are you planning to do an open water crossing to the island? Wow! I mean, that's what I was thinking, but with my Hobie, which moves at upwards of 20 knots in a decent wind.

I've paddled my Sunfish (and one time my Hobie for 5 hours in the Chesapeake Bay, but that's another tale), and wondered about the possibility of fitting oarlocks to the Sunfish, in order to row it. That would be a lot more efficient and make the boat a lot faster. I imagine with the daggerboard pulled, it would row really well. (edit: it just occurred to me to use a kayak paddle on the Sunfish. Much more power than a canoe paddle)
 

tag

my2fish
Yes, just have Lake Ontario left. That area you described is quite a bit further of a drive... I was thinking more like the western side, maybe near Toronto?
 

Seaotter5

Active Member
Which one is left? Ontario? I've heard great things about sailing in the Thousand Island region where Ontario empties into the St. Lawrence.
I have canoed that region quite a bit over the years, as I have a cousin in Alexandria Bay. It's a nice place to explore, with some nice beaches to swim and relax on. The lake is quite shallow, which gives the chop an odd kind of motion. It's the only place I have ever gotten sea sick! I have camped and Kayaked on Lake Erie and a little bit on Lake Michigan, but I like Ontario the best.
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Shallow bodies of water tend to have nastier surface chop... South San Diego Bay & the Salton Sea are two good examples, the chop can get fierce & ugly in those locations. There's also a shoal area off NASNI (Naval Air Station, North Island) where the chop gets wicked, a regular maelstrom when the breeze hits small craft warning. :eek:

I'm not much into organized religion, but I recall passages from the Bible where fishermen encountered sudden squalls & rough seas... those bodies of water were like the Salton, lying in shallow desert pans, so strong winds would kick up fierce chop and lead to trouble for small craft. It's a challenge in its own right, navigating through heller chop, most folks are relieved to sail into smoother waters, LOL. :cool:
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Haha, I hear ya... and lemme add that navigating the fierce chop on the Salton Sea had the added threat of taking a swim in that funky water, LOL. I literally had to dodge the larger peaks of chop so the boat wouldn't pitchpole or otherwise go into some funky death roll, ya know? It was crazy, and when I first launched the the boat, the wind was gusting over 20 knots, so the breeze combined with the shallow lake to really kick up some nasty chop... later in the voyage, the wind died, shifted 180 degrees, and then rebuilt to 8 or 10 knots, making the latter part of my voyage a pleasure cruise. But that's the way it is in the desert, where wind does strange things and can often make for dangerous conditions... the big gales are known as "wind events" in the Imperial Valley, LOL. However, the Salton can be an exciting sailing venue when the breeze is good, and consulting the forecast at the NOAA Weather website doesn't hurt... don't wanna get out there to find that the wind is howling in 100-m.p.h. gusts, LOL. :eek:
 
It will be a pretty serious trip. The campsites have docks and there are some places to pull up. I will listen to the weather channels on my marine radio each morning and look at conditions before launching. I'll be planning each day with coves to duck into and camp if it turns bad. I'm planning extra time into my trip so I don't feel pressured to sail if it's dangerous conditions. I've led sea kayaking trips around the Apostle Islands and previously kayaked to Isle Royale (with my girlfriend who had never kayaked before), went backpacking for 5 days, before kayaking back...so I have some familiarity. I will have equipment, supplies, and an emergency bag to sustain me for a day floating in the water in case the worst possible happened. I'll post videos on the trip and you can see if you want to go.
I'm still sitting at home 3 hours from Grand Portage where I plan to launch for my Isle Royale adventure. I'm itching to start, but so far held off by forecasts including thunderstorms. At least I have 5 days more than it should take, just for this purpose. I'll likely be leaving on Sunday now.
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Better safe than sorry... last place you wanna be in a lightning storm on the lake is aboard a small boat with metal spars, LOL. :eek:

Looking forward to reading about your nautical adventure!!! I have faith in ya, especially since you've pulled similar voyages in the past... :rolleyes:

Boat camping on Isle Royale... alright, I admit it, now I'm jealous, LOL. But I can vicariously live the adventure once ya safely return to post up pics... ;)

Good luck to you, hand, and be safe... shouldn't be too hard with the experience you already have, I reckon weather will be the big factor. CHEERS!!! :cool:
 
I said I would let you know when the video for my 150 mile Isle Royale trip was ready. I have the first and second videos in the series posted, and am working on the last few. Check it out, and please share if you like what you see.

First to sail a Sunfish Sailboat 150 miles around Isle Royale (series: part 1)
First to sail a Sunfish Sailboat 150 miles around Isle Royale (series: part 2)
 
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