What to look out for in a used sunfish??


New Member
I am going to look at a used Sunfish tommorow.
What should I be looking out for??
Anything impossible to fix?
I don't know how old it is but does have kick up rudder.
In the FAQ it says to stay away from Pearson made boats . Why??

I agree that the Windline guide is very good. Here are a few things that you need to look for. Rudder configuration. Avoid the old style rudder system, the one with the bronze fittings and a deck mounted wing nut tensioner. You want the newer system with the stainelss steel "U" bracket on the stern
and the rudder with the springs on the side of the rudder cheeks. You can retrofit to the newer design but the parts are several hubdred dollars and a lot of work by the time you get done.,

Weight. Weigh the hull balanced on its side on regular bathroom scales.
130 lbs is great; up to 145lbs is OK but anything much over 145 or so indicates leaks and waterlogging.

Gear: Do you have the full rig, hull with all fittings, spars, sail, lines, rudder/tiller and dagger board? Individual parts are expensive and used parts are often hard to find.

General condition of the hull. Look for major dings or repairs, The keel, chines and the area around the dagger board trunk are the areas most often dinged.

Has the hull been painted? Paint usually covers flaws - let the buyer beware.

Sail. A few little pin holes are common, but if the cloth is very soft and has
no "crackle" left in it, it is near the end of its days, and a new sail costs $250 - $300+.

The Pearson boats had some quality control problems. Some leaked (my 1990 Pearson hull does not leak) and others had deck gelcoat cracking problems
(mine does have a few cracks.)

Other pluses: Inspection ports, covers, sail covers, rudder/board bags, extra gear are all pluses. Any unwanted spare gear can be sold easily on this website for good money (that will offset the cost of the whole package.

Good hunting.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
I just bought 2 used sunfish. It took me about 2-3 months before I landed the fish I wanted. While shopping, I did some research.

I learned through various members to avoid Pearson hulls if possible....why risk getting a boat with problems. I was also told that there were some problems with vanguard hulls at or around the 1999-2000 vintage in that they changed the foam dimensions slightly for production cost reasons and there were some foam to hull adhesion problems. Hopefully someone on this site can elaborate a little more on this as far as hull numbers or exact years.

I also found that ebay is a good source, but prices on older model boats seemed to go a little high. Prices on newer boats seemed OK though. I also found that a lot of ebay sellers will sell direct (off of ebay) if you contact them directly. I missed out on 2 decent boats because someone bought them out from under the auction. I don't think you are supposed to do it,but it IS done.

Also, I would stay away from painted boats....paint is more trouble to maintain than gelcoat. Trailers are overrated. Sunfish are very light and car-toppable.

Hope this helps. Good luck fishing ;) .