When to sand and fill vs. paint the hull

Thread starter #1
I have a red bottom, yellow top 70's sunfish that I picked up on Craigslist (for a price too good to refuse). The bottom is very heavily oxidized, and has had some epoxy patches along the keel and in a few other spots. It looks like these were primarily to seal cracks or chips in the gelcoat; not structural. Part of the prior repairs need to be redone, there are also a few more chips that need to be filled, and some non-structural, but fairly widespread gelcoat cracking.

I am trying to decide a course of action. The hull is going to require some level of filling, sanding, buffing to get it presentable. I could go whole hog and fix every crack and chip I see either with West system epoxy and\or Petit EZFair, painstakingly sand and feather and then repaint. This would be ideal, but impact sailing this season. Or I could fix just the big issues and see how it wears for a year or two until I have more time, disregarding the appearance of the bottom.

Are there any rules of thumb as to when a bottom should be repainted vs. patched and sanded smooth (albeit not very attractive).

I'll post some photos later tonight.


Active Member
Yes, the rule of thumb is:
"When it really bothers you and you can't sleep at night then go whole hog and repair the bottom, otherwise patch and go sailing"

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The rule of thumb is how much do you want to do. You want the hull to be smooth, but keep in mind it will be drug on and off the beach. I patch when there are just 3-5 areas. When the gelcoat is so damaged or gone that 1/3 or more of the hull needs repair, I sand, fair, prime and paint.

Fix the big areas, go sailing, then reevaluate in the off season.