Yikes, My 1966 Sunfish weighs 270lbs without any drainable water in it!

Thread starter #1
Hello All,
I'm new to the forum but I've learned a lot from your posts already, so Thank You in advance.

I just weighed my Sunfish, I knew it felt heavy but was shocked to find it weighs 270 lbs. I've read your posts and FAQ about drying out a Sunfish, and I plan on installing at least one inspection port.
My question is, will this boat ever approach the correct weight, and how long might it take if I have one port and run a fan in it 24/7? I've read that the correct weight is about 130 lbs. Is that true for a 1966 model as well?

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Quality control varied on thickness of fiberglass back then, but shouldn't be more than +/- 5 pounds max. Our 1965 is on the heavy side, wife likes it for windier days.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
You need two ports to get airflow going. After installation of the ports, put the boat outside, deck side side down, put a black tarp or garbage bags on the hull, and fire up the fan. The warmth of the sun will help speed things up. I think I have read you can expect the drying to take up to six months.


Well-Known Member
At 270 lbs it would need to loose at least 110-120 pounds to be worthy of lifting and launching. That's 13-14 gallons of water weight somewhere. I'm surprised no water came out of the boat at that weight. My guess is you are looking at all summer long weight loss program.
My question is, will this boat ever approach the correct weight, and how long might it take if I have one port and run a fan in it 24/7? I've read that the correct weight is about 130 lbs. Is that true for a 1966 model as well?
I would go with Beldar's suggestion. When you put the black plastic on the hull, make sure it's taped down flush so that he hull is noticably heating up.

I would definitely go with two ports - maybe 5 inch. One behind the splash guard and one on the stern deck, way back. Since you have a 66 you can assume that some day you ( or someone) will want to do a rudder update, so you'll want the port way back there. Cut away the foam under the port hole.

This will be a long process - the better part of a year - so I wouldn't bother with a fan. I'd use wind and natural heat. Put sunfish where it can get direct sunlight and hopefully a breeze running freely underneath, like a top boat rack at the beach or something. If you put two funnels -these can be homemade with plastic containers and duct tape, or whatever - facing in opposite directions you'll get decent airflow through there regardless of which way the wind is blowing (including a bit of Bernoulli effect).

There's no shortcut, as the foam blocks take a long, long time to dry out thoroughly. I did pretty much exactly as described and got really good results, starting late summer and letting it air out through to the beginning of the following summer.

270 lbs is a lot of weight. If that 66 were mine I might also put a port on the stern wall of the cockpit and get ome real flow, and also fasten in a hiking strap while I was at it. You'll have a bit of a Swiss cheese look - but it should also help air circulation inside a bit.
Cut the holes but DON'T install them until you are all done! Also, only remove the brown foam (it's the 2-part expanding foam used as "glue" to hold the white Styrofoam in place). There's great instructions in the Yahoo!Group sunfish_sailor.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Well, if you hit foam when you cut into the boat, you will have to remove it! You should put the rear deck port pretty close to the stern to minimize how much white foam you hit. Also, the only reason not to put ports in til you are done is that it leaves a slightly larger diameter hole for airflow, reaching in to make repairs, etc. The downside is you have a raw fiberglass edge that is not friendly to skin!
I'm all for fan assisted airflow. Passive ventilation works to be sure but you want positive airflow blow into it via a fan box and dryer duct hose. Doesn't need to be super tight, but believe me you are slowing your drying time with passive ventilation flow. Get the humidity out of that beast and the drying will accelerate. Start now and Ill bet its dry by August. Just because its a slow dry does not mean positive active airflow is pointless. Far from it.

Saying its going to take a long time so I'm not using a fan is throwing your hand up in despair. Three months and its dry. You may need another cheap fan the small one won't last that started this . Have enough airflow so you at least feel the exhaust port gently venting on your hand.

Of course you use a fan. Disregard passive airflow as bad advice.



Well-Known Member
I just weighed my Sunfish, I knew it felt heavy but was shocked to find it weighs 270 lbs.
:oops: Could that number have been 170 lbs.? (That would account for five gallons of absorbed water).

I might go two steps further: paint the bottom black—slope the hull to give some natural warm air movement.

The natural-convection method would be fine, but summer's coming up! ;)

All you need is a $10 muffin-fan to keep the airflow going—with the "plus" that muffin-fans are very long-lived.

Heck, install two! :)
Thread starter #13
I wish it only weighed 170 lbs. The boat hasn't sailed in over 10 years and was neglected. I'm running a fan thru a 5 inch opening I created near the stern and another 5 inch opening right behind the grab handle to exhaust. Lots of airflow. Boat covered in black plastic. The boat lost 15 lbs in 24 hours using this method. I'm sure the rate of drying will slow as time goes on. I'll keep updating this thread as the weight comes off. Thanks everyone for your help. View attachment 11411
Thread starter #14
Sunfish Diet Plan update. Well, my old fish is down to 218 lbs from 270 ( 52 lbs of weight loss ) . That works out to about a pound a day of weight removed since May 1st. I've been running a fan 24/7 thru 2 five inch inspection holes.

I wish I had sealed the rub rail top and bottom sooner. Our rainfall in CT has been 6 inches above normal recently and it didn't occur to me until recently that rain water could enter thru there. Before sealing the rub rail, I'd get about 2 quarts of water in the hull after sailing hard for 4 hours, after sealing the rub rail, I got a little more than a cup. I'll continue running the fan, hopefully now the rate of weight loss will increase. Thanks for everyone's input.
I have a late 60's hull I recently aquired that needs drying as well. I haven't had a chance to work on it yet, but will be installing the inspection ports in the next couple weeks. I live in central Texas and this time of the year temps are in the upper 90's /low 100's. That should help dry it out.

What is a "reasonable" weight goal for an older boat? I have a 1971 model. I am doing some mods on it and am drying it out with the fan in the garage. Can I reasonably expect it to get down to the original weight of 140 or so? When I pulled it in for the mods....it weighed 170. It will be back sailing in a week or so...

It does has to leave the garage permanently this winter though. If I left it outside all winter turned upside down, with both ports open and a solar fan in one of the ports, covered with black garbage bags, would it continue to dry during the winter? (Indiana.....fairly low humidity, temps between 0 and 30 in mid winter, some sunny days, maybe 12" of snow...). Will that help, or should I just seal it up and "re-dry" it next summer?

Or instead of trying to have the boat lose 20 pounds, would I be better off leaving the boat alone, and working on having ME lose 20 pounds? :)


If you keep going, you should be able to someday get it back down to 130-135. It's supposed to be hot the next couple weeks--get your black trash bags to work then! Once it's below 32 degrees you won't make any water vapor at all--it will all be hard water (ice). What the drying process is has the water inside the Styrofoam and brown expanding foam turn into water vapor, migrate through the foam cell walls, then evaporate. That's why it takes so long. If you had a warm room where you could set up a dehumidifier, that might also speed it up. Or, get it down in the basement for the winter with a fan blowing through. Higher temperature is better with lower humidity to keep the water migration process continuing. Keep working on drying. If you can hang it from the garage rafters rather than leave outside, would be better. No matter what, put screening over your holes to keep critters out. If she's really going to be outside, close the holes (or screen them), turn the boat upside down, preferably tarp her, and wait until spring. You can sail her while she's heavy, she just won't respond as well as when she's back to original weight. And, of course, both losing said 20 lbs. will make her really rip! ;)
Drying is not a very fast process. A heated basement (68-72 degrees) in the Midwest in the winter with a fan blowing through will likely get most of the water out ...