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Where do I tie on the milk jug(s)?


New Member
I am able to right a turtled Sunfish w/out too much problem, becasue my arms are long enough to reach the daggerboard while I'm floating alongside. However, my younger daughters (teenage and down) now like to sail by themselves and with their friends, but are still a little short to reach the daggerboard easily when the boat is completely upside down.

I've read a couple threads in here mentioning tying empty milk jugs to the top of the mast and/or top spar (ghaff). I was wonder which location was prefered, and if more than one jug is necessary to keep it from going completely turtle? Anybody have experience / pictures / etc. with this sort of thing? Wouldn't mind trying it myself as well, since our local (KS) sailing spots are usually shallow and muddy.


New Member
Good question, going to be teaching my son to sail and will also go the jug route. One jug will do ya. Easy way would be to tie it to the gaff next to where the halyard is tied. Me, I'm going to tie a Turks Head Knot at the top of the mast. When done there will be a line hanging down from the knot tie the jug. Sort of a Nautical solution and it will be my first attempt at a Turks Head Knot. Gotta love it!


All you need is one air-tight milk jug. Be sure to tie it on with a bowline and pull the knot tight. Tie it to the opening in the black end cap at the tip of the gaff, where the uphaul like goes through. If you have an old gallon size laundry detergent jug, you might choose that (thicker walls so it won't accidentally get a hole poked in it).

But, teens ought to be able to be nimble enough to "go over the top" and land on the daggerboard in a capsize. Have them read about how (in the Sunfish Bible and also described on the Yahoo!Groups Sunfish_Sailor board), and go out and practice (when the water is warm enough). Once kids know how, they like to have contents to see who can do it the most times and quickest. Even if they capsize to leeward, some nimble young 'uns are able to accomplish the feat!

First they have to get over the "panic and fear and 'wrongness'" of a capsize. As they gain confidence in their ability to right the boat (they'll learn to make sure the mainsheet is uncleated which allows the boat to pop right back up), they'll start to play with it more. Capsizing isn't an emergency, it's merely the result of the forces getting out of balance to allow the boat to move forward. When we get a kid to that point, whoa, then they're out to beat our butts on the race course!!

Good luck to you parents. Consider bringing them to the Junior North Americans in Charleston. Yes, there will be some pretty good racers that show up, but I've also seen some less skilled racers show up for that regatta and find themselves in the hunt before all is said and done. Kids learn from kids far faster than they do in a classroom or "organized" setting!


Have you tried this? Is one foam noodle enough?
My neighbor tried the duck-tape secured split noodle from last years posts and tells me it worked for teaching his kids. I got the impression he didn't even use a whole noodle - I'll ask next time I see him. There's various noodle thicknesses and center holes so flotation could be different with what you get. I like this idea of color coding the noodle to the sail stripe and popping a few sail rings to slip it over the spar between rings. I wouldn't find that embarassing to sail like some do the milk jug.


New Member
Don't know why you would be embarrassed about a milk jug. When I way young my father and I were on a lake and passed a Sunfish(?) fleet racing in the other direction. I remember that at least one, maybe more, had the milk jug at the top of the mast. I would think that if you capsize in a race, you would want to right the boat a quickly as possible. Check out what the AquaCat sailboat has as the top of the mast, funky huh?