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What year is my Sailfish?

Ralphiedc

New Member
I just bought a super sailfish and don't know the year, haven't seen any serial numbers on it but it's been raining since I picked it up this weekend. It has an elephant ear rudder, aluminum mast and spars and a rotted sunfish sail. On first glance the boat appears to be fiberglass as the top seems to be a molded cap, but the top and bottom don't come together with a flange like you see on mkII's and sunfish, and it has the older logo plates as shown in the sunfish timeline elsewhere in the forum. I will try to add a few pics when the weather improves. Any help would be appreciated.
 

Ralphiedc

New Member
I just bought a super sailfish and don't know the year, haven't seen any serial numbers on it but it's been raining since I picked it up this weekend. It has an elephant ear rudder, aluminum mast and spars and a rotted sunfish sail. On first glance the boat appears to be fiberglass as the top seems to be a molded cap, but the top and bottom don't come together with a flange like you see on mkII's and sunfish, and it has the older logo plates as shown in the sunfish timeline elsewhere in the forum. I will try to add a few pics when the weather improves. Any help would be appreciated.
Also the mast surround seems to be one piece with the deck.
 

Ralphiedc

New Member
I just bought a super sailfish and don't know the year, haven't seen any serial numbers on it but it's been raining since I picked it up this weekend. It has an elephant ear rudder, aluminum mast and spars and a rotted sunfish sail. On first glance the boat appears to be fiberglass as the top seems to be a molded cap, but the top and bottom don't come together with a flange like you see on mkII's and sunfish, and it has the older logo plates as shown in the sunfish timeline elsewhere in the forum. I will try to add a few pics when the weather improves. Any help would be appreciated.
I found a serial number on the deck plate of the rudder assembly 1222. Here are some pics of the boat.20210722_104953.jpg20210722_104922.jpg20210722_104935_HDR.jpg20210722_104851.jpg20210722_104859_HDR.jpg20210722_104806.jpg20210722_104830.jpg20210722_105020.jpg
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
That serial number dates it to 1957, I would guess that your boat is a prototype or first attempts at fiberglass construction. We have seen a few different fiberglass hull deck combos, but not this one. The Alcort tag is 1950s vintage as well. The fiberglass Super Sailfish MKII as we commonly know it, with a hull/deck flange, was introduced in 1959 with the fiberglass Sunfish popping up in 1960.

Cool boat. let's see more photos!
 

Ralphiedc

New Member
Unfortunately we were below the level of whisper, I came out of the cove I was in and caught some wind for about 300 yards and then it died, had to paddle back in. The slight wind that brought me out was enough to tell me I'll like the boat. The local lake is kind of closed in so I have to find a good laugh spot on one of the more open areas.
 

Ralphiedc

New Member
Dang it. Nothing of the sort to date mine.
That in itself may give you a date range, as in there were no serial numbers before X date. There is a sunfish timeline in here somewhere that goes over serial numbers that seems to apply to both sunfish and sailfish, that may help.
 

bhm

Active Member
So, if I understand the preceding discussion correctly, I can date the Mk II Super Sailfish I just brought home to 1962, based just on the serial number 4966 on the brass rudder mount? I.e. that the serial number ranges for each year of Sunfish manufacture as listed in the 'Evolution of the Sunfish' pdf under 'Resources' include all serial numbers for all the different Alcort boats, not just Sunfishes?

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
That should be about right, for all Alcort Sailfish and Sunfish. Around 1963 or so they went to a metal tag that wad affixed to the deck, on the fiberglass Sailfish it was on the mast step, and on the Sunfish it was just aft of the coaming. We'd love to see more photos.
 
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bhm

Active Member
That should be about right, for all Alcort Sailfish and Sunfish. Around 1963 or so they went to a metal tag that wad affixed to the deck, on the fiberglass Sailfish it was on the mast step, and on the Sunfish it was just aft of the coaming. We'd love to see more photos.
Can do. I already took a bunch of pictures for ID purposes, thinking that it would be tricky, and then felt like maybe I had overdone it when I found this thread that gave an answer based on just one picture.

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I had to learn about 'three-loop bridle' (this one is wire rope with a vinyl or plastic cover). The brass clip is different from the two-sided one on my 1973 Minifish. The sheet looks like 3/16 inch woven cotton, like window sash cord -- very thin compared to what's on my Mini, must be rough on the hands. But since the blocks are correspondingly small, I'm thinking this may be the original line. A lot of stuff on this boat looks remarkably well preserved. The most recent owner said he had it in storage for 11 years while he was in Africa.

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The bow handle has a different and more curlicue shape than the one on my Mini. The original drain plug is gone; this came with a steel bolt that threads into the same fitting (not shown here).

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The rudder mount looks very clean. The left wing nut is a steel replacement; the right one looks like original brass. I think you or somebody said something about how that mounting pin with the tilting flange on the end is liable to getting lost, but this one is here and working; the seller showed me how to mount the rudder, and adjust those wing nuts so it kicks up.

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Labels, on the side of the hull (both sides):

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On the raised mast step:

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On the tiller:

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The sail seems almost pristine, feels newer than my Sailboats-to-go sail from last year. It has numbers on it which look like the ones that came from Alcort, according to the brochure that you or somebody posted on Facebook in November that I found earlier today and then lost again.

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Seller's pics from Craig's List:

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The gooseneck looks brand new, and I'm thinking it may not be original, since even when fully tightened it doesn't grip the boom (is that something that can happen?). Obviously I can shim it, but it's weird that it would be just a hair too big.

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And here's that serial number again, just to have it all in one place. I would never have found that on my own, without the earlier thread above. And now I'm done.

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The boat looks to be in great shape, does she have a name yet?

1. As for lines, earliest lines were cotton blend, then early 60s Alcort ventured into more of a poly blend. The halyards were pretty thin, and your sheet looks to be about the same diameter of the older sheets, but in a newer blend. We have seen that type sheethook from the era, but as you mentioned Alcort moved along next to a double clip, which was permanently spliced onto the sheet.

You might want a rough sheet, and consider gloves, managing the sheet is one of the most interesting things about the Sailfish. Don't be surprised to find yourself sitting on it at an inopportune time, or to spend some time trolling with it.

2. Tacking. We set the rig high, just like in the ALCORT photos, but still find that sometimes it was easier to lean back when tacking vs forward balance wise.

3. Nice looking WIlcox Crittenden hardware, some of it is chrome plated brass. Do you plan to trailer long distances? If so you need to develop a plan to keep certain bits of rig hardware from vibrating loose, like the plastic locknut on the halyard block eyebolt. Blue tape is what we have used. Also I'd install and tape the rudder pin, the carriage bolt wingnut and the bronze latchplate screw on the keel.

Speaking of wingnut, that is the first time we've seen 2, does it go all the way through? That's not per the Patent drawing where a wood screw is used, but makes sense in some ways.

4. For the vertical bolt on the rudder assembly, there is a nylon sleeve (tube) upgrade that can be slid over the bolt to help secure it better in the transom slot, reducing side to side play. We have some somewhere that should work, not OEM, or some other Usual Visitors in the Forum may have exactly the right bit.

The leaf spring on top of the horizontal hinge plate seems straight, and the beveled edges on the vertical hinge plate attached to the rudder blade and beveled edge on the keel latch plate do not look worn. Those areas are where undesired rudder releasing originate.Depending on your launching, sailing and beaching conditions and preferences, you'll find a "Goldilocks" thumbscrew setting for your rudder assembly, too much and the rudder is hard to latch and unlatch, too little and the bottom pops loose under sail. You can still sail if it releases, but not with as much control.

5. Speaking of control, the original vintage daggerboard is cool, but at 31 inches we feel it is a bit short. We sail with a 1960s fiberglass Sunfish Spoon Tip board, 39 inches, and feel that tacking is improved. Some sellers in here may have one handy, or use your Minifish board. The rudder is fine, and we like how some of the hardware was still riveted on vs bolted.

6. Your bow handle is OEM, developed from the "Deluxe" line of boats from the late 40s. Begin your search now for the proper bronze drain plug, harder to find than rudder pins. And harder to keep track of.

7. ALCORT did send packages to new owners with boat info, enrollment in the Class Association and sail numbers. A low 4 digit number is pretty early. Not sure if records are kept that far back. We like those 5 panel sails, they have a nice feel and are a good cut for that boat, not overpowered.

8. What we would do with the gooseneck is put a piece of Pro Gaff tape, or electrical tape, around the boom to make a gasket. That can be your shim and it will also help reduce the dissimilar metal corrosion that will occur between the bronze and the anodized aluminum.
 
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bhm

Active Member
I don't normally name my boats: since I only ever have one of each, they are just kayak, canoe, dinghy, Sailfish. I did name my Minifish 'Davison Nagle' in his honor, since I happened to bring it home the same week last November that he died from a sudden heart attack. I never met him in person, but I had many friendly on-line interactions with him last Summer and Fall.

As regards lines, I have some nice soft quarter-inch synthetic stuff on hand that seems to run well through these blocks, so I'll just use that.

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Wilcox Crittenden hardware: I'm glad to know what the 'WC' stands for. My best guess was, 'Waterbury, Connecticut', but it wasn't a very good guess. Also glad to know that this is brass underneath, not just chrome-plated steel which it kind of looks like.

Vibration from trailering: I think probably not an issue, since I always "in-car" my boats (as I think you or somebody called this last Fall). I drove it an hour and a half this way on the way home and nothing came loose.

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The extra steel wingnut on the topside of the rudder mount seems to be attached to a matching steel carriage bolt running right through the hull, looking very similar to the original brass one aft of it.

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Play in the rudder: I'll sail it first and then see whether that bothers me.

Now that I've had time to see how the rudder kick-up is supposed to work, I doubt if I'll even try to use it at all, i.e. I'll just clamp that wing-nut down all the way. If I understand how it is supposed to work, it can only kick from down to up, not both ways like the new Sunfish rudder on my Mini. I would only want to use it the other way, i.e. launch with it up, then push it down by pushing on the tiller, when I was out far enough to drop the daggerboard. It appears to me that you cannot do that with this mechanism.

My beach launching technique is still evolving. Since I tore up my Minifish hull fighting waves over rocks, I am now using my dolly wheels and hipwaders to wheel my Mini out to floating depth, and I will launch this Sailfish the same way. A nice feature of the Sailboats-to-go wheels is that they plug into the STG crossbar, so the boat is its own dolly, and you can just ship the wheels and take them with you. The videos I see for 'how to beach launch' seem to require you to have a separate vehicle called a 'launching dolly' that you have to take back to shore, while your boat drifts away. I just put my STG wheels into the boat and climb into it, and don't have to go back to shore at all. (On my Mini I put them in the cockpit under my gunwhale seat; for the Sailfish I will probably tie them to the mast.) So I will now be setting the rudder in the down position as part of that process, before getting onto the boat.

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Daggerboard: I'll probably try it first with the short original board. There is a small flat shallow lake near me that I normally try out new boats on before taking them out on the big lake with bigger waves, and it has lots of underwater junk so a shorter board will be better anyway.

Missing original brass drain plug: actually I kind of like the seller's hex-bolt replacement, since you can hand-tighten it without a screwdriver. And it matches the rail and bow handle.

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Low 4-digit sail number -- so there's no chance of finding out who bought and registered it in 1962?

Tape on the boom to shim the gooseneck sounds good. But it still seems weird that the gooseneck would be a hair too big to clamp the spar. Were there different sizes, or were the production tolerances just that sloppy?

Sitting on the sheet -- if you are sitting on the deck, I can see how this is a likely problem. But I plan to sit in a chair, so I can paddle it like a kayak (as you mention in your article on the Sailfish). Also I plan to sail it first with my 45 SF Snark-sized STG sail, which probably will be a good fit for the small original daggerboard. As usual I hang the sail high enough so the boom is over my head so I can see in all directions, and add my STG outriggers, which plug into the same crossbar as the dolly wheels. I just test-rigged it this way today. I see that there is room to slide the chair on its rubber feet from side to side on the deck, so I'm hoping that rather than "hike out" I can just "scootch over"!

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But first I have to re-mount the rails. I'll post a separate thread about this.
 
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bhm

Active Member
OK thanks. It failed to latch on my one attempt, but I'll try tinkering with the mechanism a bit more.
 

bhm

Active Member
OK thanks. I have some tubing of various diameters on hand so I'll try that if I want to activate this feature. But it may not be necessary, if I'm going to be doing other bits of rigging while standing in the water anyway.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
OK thanks. I have some tubing of various diameters on hand so I'll try that if I want to activate this feature. But it may not be necessary, if I'm going to be doing other bits of rigging while standing in the water anyway.
You need the tube - it is essential. Once the rudder is down it prevents the piece on the bottom of the hull from moving side to side. That prevents the rudder from popping up under way ina breeze.
 

bhm

Active Member
Is that true even if you screw the wingnut on top all the way down? The seller told me that this controlled the sensitivity of the pop-up feature, i.e. like adjusting the trigger-pull, so I would have expected that cinching it down tight would completely disable the pop-up feature. Is that wrong?
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Depends on the condition of the leaf spring plate and if the bevels are worn on the vertical hinge or latch plate. Also if all screws are tight.

The shorter tube/ carriage bolt on the Sailfish will not have as much slop as the fiberglass Sunfish, but why not take the belts an suspenders approach and put one on. Yes, if the entire assembly is tight and in good condition, tightening the thumb nut all the way down will defeat the rudder releasing function, with the peril being that if you do bump something hard during launching or beaching, in extreme situation the rudder blade could break. We suggest finding the sweet spot where the rudder is tight, but will release if given a good knock.

 
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