Wooden Sailfish sailboat Restoration

Thread starter #1
So I picked up a wooden sailfish a few weeks ago that needs some work.There are 3 noticable holes one next to the mast step on the deck, one on the bottom and one little one on the side. I am also missing the keel strip but other than that it's mostly there. I started by sanding the whole deck, and then removing just enough to replace the damaged part of the deck. After doing that I realized I should probably just replace the whole deck. The next day I went out and bought okoume Marine plywood for the decking(they did not have Douglas fir in the right thickness). So I removed the whole deck and good thing too because one of the bulkheads was loose. A squirrel had also decided to make a home in it sometime in the last 60 years so I cleaned that out too. I believe the boat is a factory built(originally light blue) sailfish from 1952-1954 beacuse the rudder bracket says pat pending. I am planning on clear varnishing the whole boat after applying west systems epoxy. Hopefully she will be seaworthy by the 4th of July. That's the plan at least!


signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Nice find! What's her name?

That looks like an Alcort Standard Sailfish, the 11'7" model, based on the 2 loop handrail.

The squirrels ate the keel, that was helpful because most likely it was rotting and needed replacement before it took out the longeron beneath it. For the keel strip I'd use white oak, mahogany, cypress or southern yellow pine. It was usually white oak.

Okoume is a good choice, quality grade. Some of the boats were done in mahogany depending on supply.

You can tell if the boat is factory by the absence of markings on the frames. The kit boat frames had markings like Bow and Deck so they would be assembled properly.

Where is the mast step box?

And do you have the sail and spars?

You will find that the rudder is not bad, but you will want a longer daggerboard like the spoon tip that came with the fiberglass boats in the 60s or even a SHadow or Barrington. The 31 inch original board is really too small.

And if you plan to finish clear use West Systems with the 207 Special Clear Hardener. If you plan on keeping the boat inside then there is no need to varnish. We used 2 coats on ZIP and she still looks great 5 years later.


That's WINNIE, our Standard Sailfish off the bow.




Thread starter #5
Don't have a name for her yet but I'm totally open to suggestions! As for the keel I think I will try to find some white oak if I can but I may end up going with locally available woods. This sailfish definitely didn't have a mahgony top so I don't feel too bad. I looked on the bulkheads and there are marking I will attach some photos. The mast step box did not make it there was one other little piece ratting around in there but most of it had rotted. The hull I got for free in all honesty and I bought the sail spars rudder and daggerbaord with a sunfish actually. The spars have a tapered mast and came with a sailfish sail. Looks like a wooden sunfish rudder but hey they also fit Sailfish 4 inches instead of 7. The daggerboard is plenty long because I'm pretty sure that is a sunfish daggerboard. I also already purchased that expoxy and still kinda wanna put a few layers of varnish on. Also it's hard to not know Zip and Winnie after doing the amount of internet research I've done before taking on the project. You're the guy when it comes to wooden sunfish! On that note I'd like to refinish the wooden handrails as well but not sure if I should use the varnish or epoxy.


signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Good Morning

Locally available woods are always good options, just think towards hardwood that is going to do okay in a marine environment. Check out Sam Rabl's Wood Selection Guide for some ideas. That small hole on the bottom, I'd scarf a dutchman into that, while the deck is open you can clean up the edges of the hole, epoxy in a backer plate and then epoxy in a new hunk of plywood. If there are thickness differences you could sand down the interior side of the ply.

The bulkheads appear to have the kit boat markings for a 12 foot boat, the Standard Sailfish.

It will be easy enough to rebuild the mast box from hardwood or plywood, using modern adhesives. I think you will find the thickened epoxy will become your new best friend, and want to lay a bead of that along the inside edge of the hull/side seam as well as all the daggerboard trunk seams and keel longeron seam. Our favorites are Jamestown Distributors' TotalBoat THIXO, comes in a mixing cartridge that fits in a caulk gun, good price and ships free. Our other go to and locally available favorite is Pettit Flexpoxy, West Marine. If anyone on the Forum is using TotalBoat, send me a message and we'll pass along our 10% TotalBoat Ambassador discount code.

You got lucky with the spars, are they the 13'9" spars or the shorter 11'9" spars? The Standard Sailfish had a 65 sf sail vs 75 and a 9 foot mast, but folks interchanged them frequently. The rudder system is interchangeable on all of the wooden boats but not with the old style vertical plate on the fiberglass hull. The daggerboard you have is the Shadow board, with that leading edge shaved, it came out around 1972ish and was on the Minifish as well as Sunfish. With the Minifish being shorter, the spars and sail were the same size as the Standard Sailfish.

For your handrails I'd go with a nice marine grade varnish, very easy to reapply.

What are you other Fish?

Kent and Skipper
Thread starter #8
Ah good to know it was a kit still cool though! I will look into the Jamestown total boat thixo. I will measure the spars tomorrow when it's not miserable and rainy outside. I did check before I took the rudder bracket off that the rudder was the correct one. I can just tell the tiller is longer than the one that the boat originally had beacuse the deck had a scratch in it which totally is not surising. I have a laser and I've owned a few sunfish in the past. And of course my new project of love. Thanks for all the information I really appreciate it! Are you still writing that book on restoring fishes would love to buy it!

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Good afternoon,

I say that it is a kit like I know for sure, my only logic is that the wooden Sunfish I have apart right now does not have markings on the frames, and the kits were shown to have markings. Maybe they marked them all at one point.

The Standard Sailfish tiller is shorter, based off what we have on WINNIE and a few spare tillers we have, there was definitely 2 different lengths.

You're welcome for the information, and we are still working on "The Wooden Alcort Restoration Manual." Maybe you'd like some of your photos to go in the book! We are currently gathering measurements and will create a Table of Offsets, and make some patterns for replacement parts. Big market for that :) We are distracted by a 1978 AMF boat right now, wait, what, we have ANOTHER project?


Make note of where the backer blocks go for your handrails, or did they go into the side?

Thanks for the feedback on the information, we enjoy gathering it up and spreading it back out.

Kent and Audrey
Thread starter #10
Well the only reason I thought it was factory was because the paint was different under where I took the rudder bracket off. But that doesn't really mean it's factory it could have been repainted. But again I appreciate the information. And if youd like to include some of my photos go right ahead I think there's such a neat history to the wooden alcot boats. I even bought the famous Life magazine from 1949 to go with the boat as a display item. And good luck on your project! I know there's always something to work on. And the handrails just screwed into the sides of the boat no backer blocks. I can take pictures of the hole line up tomorrow.
Thread starter #12
It's the august 15 1945 to be exact I got mine on eBay for like 10 bucks with shipping? I may have made a bet with someone to get it done by July 4th haha. Also after reading some forums on wooden boats people say they sail differently. I'd love to experience that. I may eventually try to get some wooden spars made in the far future for the wood "thunk" when tacking.
Thread starter #16
Today's work.
Not much but one coat of varnish on the handrails and the side of the daggerboard that had been sanded. More varnishing tomorrow afternoon hopefully and some actual progress this weekend! Sail and spars are for the larger super sailfish it seems, still works for me!

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Before you get too far along on the daggerboard, check to see if it fits in the slot (thickness). On WINNIE we have a few that do and a few that don't
Thread starter #18
Definitely checked when I got the boad to make sure it would work and was very happy with how it looked and fit thanks for the concern though!
Thread starter #19
Got busy the last few weeks with other things but finally made some real progress on the boat. I have this week off so it should be done by the end of the week hopefully if things don't come up.


Thread starter #20
So here's the update. I was having a friend help me because he had the proper tools and I didn't. He's been busy and we've been having a hard time lining up our schedules to finish the deck for the boat. In the meantime I found a 1960s wooden super sailfish yesterday on Craigslist and took it sailing this afternoon. GOPR1947_1532056266737_high.JPG