Would like some cosmetic advice?

Thread starter #1
I have an old dagger board and rudder and I was considering sanding them and putting varnish on them. After looking closer at them it seems there are ruff spots on them that would require staining and lots of sanding to make them nice looking. I have a thought of saving a lot of time and sanding and simply rough them up and paint them with a blue rust-oleum paint to match my boat and sail?

Would appreciate suggestions or comments ?


Active Member
Hi George,

I sanded down and revarnished the board from my 71 Sunfish which was in pretty rough shape. It has some dark spots from where the old varnish had failed, but it looks fine.

If you are set on painting the board, then I would go with a spray can of white primer followed optionally by a white semi-gloss. I took a bite out of the trailing edge of the board from my Laser, and after repairing the damage, masked and painted the area with Rustoleum "Clean Metal Primer" (white). I then wet sanded it fair.

White is a good color for blades (I.e. Dagger boards, rudders), as it's easy to see it there are weeds trailing on them and if/when they get damaged. If you look at the new Sunfish boats, and virtually all others one design boats, the blades are white.

In your case I would keep the outside handle parts of the board natural. That would look nice I think.

Best of luck.


Active Member
It depends on what you are after. The important thing is to go sailing and have fun Never, ever worry about real sailors or those "saltier than thou".

I refinished my board natural because that's the way it came and looks right with an older boat. It's just for fun, so the performance doesn't matter. It's blotchy, but the board is smooth and fair, and also importantly sealed.

I have not seen your board, but mahogany doesn't usually rot. I think, or hope, when you sand it most of the color will come back. If the edges are splintered, then you need to address that using whatever materials and level of effort you are comfortable with. I would use epoxy with wood flour mixed in, but you probably could use anything that will stick, waterproof and can be sanded.

If it was going to race the boat, not that a 45 year old sunfish could ever be a rocket ship, I would buy one of the new plastic boards. Apparently the performance to windward is so much better, that you notice it even when you are not matched up against another boat.
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Thread starter #5
I like your notion of maintaining original equipment and look. I was getting caught up in the notion that painting would be less of a project.

I would like to ask a Sailor that is I'm sure Salter than I am. As a Sunday Sailor and old enough to have trouble moving around the cockpit and hiking. Will a guy like myself find any real noticeable benefit to buying a new plastic board and rudder? I do think I would like a different sail in order to have a window!


Active Member
I noticed a huge improvement by buying a new sail. To be honest, buying a new rudder or daggerboard doesn't seem cost effective since I'm just sailing recreationally.


Active Member
Yes, a new style board is worth it. The boat will point much better.
My race sail has a window, my practice sail doesn't.
Thread starter #8
I have read a lot of threads that talk about the availability of used race sails at very low cost or donated. How does one find such sails?


Upside down?
Staff member
Yes, a new style board is worth it. The boat will point much better.
My race sail has a window, my practice sail doesn't.
A new board isn't worth it for you George since you are sailing recreationally and have some difficulty moving around.
I have been in the board for some time, and have never seen a cosmetic question before. Fortunately my wife likes to look her best both ashore and out to sea, and has some cosmetic thoughts for you (or more likely your wife.). Please Contact me for details.
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Well-Known Member
A new board isn't worth it for you George since you are sailing recreationally and have some difficulty moving around.
I'm in the same boat as George, and will always appreciate the efficiency of new "stuff". For "full-fun", a sailboat always needs full efficiency of all its parts.

Although my present wood boards aren't "awful", my next purchase will be a new plastic daggerboard. My latest "purchase" was titanium, but now I have two good knees. ;)

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
If you are asking for opinions we prefer the classic look. Sunfish even offers wood boards now for those interested.

The ruff spots are character and patina! Sand, stain, sand, clearcoat isn't much more work than sand, paint, sand, paint. We used minwax combination stain and polyurethane on many of our daggerboards, one coat. It darkened and sealed the board all in one step. It is not marine grade, but my boards live inside when not in the water for a few hours.