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A new old Sunfish...Or Sailfish

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  • A new old Sunfish...Or Sailfish

    Hello Iboats. I spend a lot of time over in the repair forum while working on my fiberglass Larson. Now we have a new project.
    I got such great advice on fiberglass, I took a look in this forum and see the same enthusiasm. Let me know if I need to move over to the repair forum.
    This week, my son purchased a nice wood sailboat. I owned a fiberglass sunfish about 35 years ago, so this caught my eye while he was looking for his first sailboat.
    I think this is a home built - no factory tags. Registration sticker says it was last registered in 1971. It looks like it was stored in a very dry place - no water damage at all!
    It has two sets of rigging - one wood with the Sunfish logo and one aluminum with the Sailfish logo. No daggerboard, but everything else is looking good. Just a few minor repairs needed.
    I looked over, poked and tapped every inch - all sounds good, no rot. I do have questions - see below the pictures.

    Yes - we were VERY aware of that overhead wire

    below is probably the worst gouge - not even into the wood much

    I do see nails peeking out on some of the panels, which appear to be hardboard like masonite. I think I read that this is an indication of what year the kit might be.

    Being a fiberglass guy, I am thinking to coat with an epoxy resin. Reading another forum some, it seems like many people just use a marine paint.
    How does this plan sound?
    1. unscrew wood trim and hardware
    2. sand and re-coat wood trim with marine clear (Valspar or something)
    3. scrape any loose or flaking paint.
    4. sand all surfaces smooth - I don't think I need to strip down to bare wood. (Do I?)
    5. fill the few gouges or marks - wood filler or fiberglass?
    5a. The keel is a little worn. build it up or strengthen in any way?
    6. Now what - primer? Paint? Epoxy?
    7. how best to seal the channel where the dagger board goes?
    8. any recomendations on how to clean those sails? I read another thread - I doubt these have resin, they are just recreational. Or....not?

    Non repair questions:
    Any guesses on the exact model?
    Any way to tell age?

    Thanks in advance and I look forward to the comments.

    Dave M

  • #2
    Sunfish by the looks of it. Sailfish and Sunfish were similar boats, mostly differing in the wider beam and more stout hull of the Sunfish. I think the Sunfish is around 4 ft beam, whereas the Sailfish is about 3 feet, maybe 42".

    My dad build 2 Sailfish boats from kits in the late 1950's early 1960's. So that may be the vintage. I would be careful about adding too much weight with glassing, etc. just do enough to protect the wood.

    The dagger board in the pic does not look standard . . . I assume it is supposed to be the dagger board

    I currently have a fiberglass Sunfish. . . Fun boats to have.
    Best regards, Ted . . . . Cape Cod, MA

    Formula 330 Sun Sport, O'Day Mariner Sail #3224, Sunfish
    Past Boats: Catalina 22 Sail #10531, Formula 242 Sun Sport
    Twin Mercruiser 7.4 LX MPI (0F802036, 039), Bravo 3's (0F806198, 199), Mercury 7.5 HP (1969), Johnson 4.5 HP (1980)

    My Boating Web Pages: http://www.tpenfield.com


    • #3
      The guy who sold it to us made a funny face when we asked for the dagger board. Then he brought that out. After a minute we agreed that is is a rudder off another boat. It is too thick to even be cut down for a dagger, and has a nasty crack. We will get a nice mahogany board and fit it in. I read that 3' is a good length for a Sunfish, but I will look for a plan to be sure.


      • #4
        Definitly not the dagger board or the correct rudder for either boat.

        As for the sails, I would use a mild laundry detergent and a soft brush on the concrete and rinse with a garden hose.

        If you aren't replacing the ropes, those can be cleaned by putting them in a washing machine inside a pillowcase that is tied shut. Let them hang to dry.

        Good Luck--sounds like a fun project.
        Last edited by sailor55330; November 19th, 2014, 08:05 AM.


        • #5
          Agreed with other comments here. Hull looks to be a kit Sunfish. The Sailfish not only had a narrower beam, it lacked a foot well... had a flat-top deck, like a surfboard. The Sailfish also had a smaller sail area than the Sunfish. Bear in mind, there was also a "Super Sailfish" that was a Sailfish hull with a Sunfish-sized sail (75SF), so if both of your sails are the same size, you have a Super-Sailfish sail.

          Disclaimer: All of this comes from memory, which aint what it used to be.

          I wouldn't glass it... agree that it will add a lot of weight.
          1974 O'Day 22 Fiberglass sloop w/ 1991 Mercury 2 Stroke 6 HP kicker on Loadrite Trailer

          1987 Fisher SV18GT Aluminum Bass Boat w/ 1987 Mercury 2 stroke 115 HP on EZ Rider Trailer

          1981 Alcort Sunfish w/ North Sail, Harken Hardware and custom race modified components... "The b*tchin' Sunfish"


          • #6
            Re-opening my old thread -
            This Sunfish sat in my sons garage and got no action. In his defense, he did get married and was a little busy.
            This week we moved it to my house and I have the hull sanded. I need advice on hull paint. Most bottom paint I see is black and expensive.
            I would like to stay under $100 for white paint to cover the hull above and below the waterline. Any recommendation for paint?


            • #7
              West Marine has Z-Spar white enamel. It does say for above the waterline. Must I use true Bottom paint on a day sailer?


              • #8
                If you are going to take the boat out of the water after each use, then go with an interlux 2-part urethane pair.

                If you keep the boat in the water seasonally then put Interlux 2000 barrier coat on the bottom and the urethane on the side and deck.

                If you stay in salt water use ePaint EP2000 on the very bottom over the Barrier coat
                Best regards, Ted . . . . Cape Cod, MA

                Formula 330 Sun Sport, O'Day Mariner Sail #3224, Sunfish
                Past Boats: Catalina 22 Sail #10531, Formula 242 Sun Sport
                Twin Mercruiser 7.4 LX MPI (0F802036, 039), Bravo 3's (0F806198, 199), Mercury 7.5 HP (1969), Johnson 4.5 HP (1980)

                My Boating Web Pages: http://www.tpenfield.com


                • #9
                  Thanks Ted.
                  I will be day sailing - drop it in the water, sail a few hours and back into dry storage.
                  A quick look online and I see Interlux 2 part for around $65 a quart and $125 a half gallon. I doubt I can cover the whole boat with a quart, but I don't need a gallon so I bet a 1/2 will do.
                  One area I am worried about - the slot where the dagger slips through seems exposed on the inside. I am thinking I need to use a narrow bottle brush or something and coat the inside of the slot?


                  • #10
                    Bad idea to leave any Sunfish in the water all the time. Especially bad if you leave the wooden dagger and rudder in the water. They should be stored in a dry, protected location.

                    Beach the boat and store such that the drain plug is the low point, (secured to a post or tree for the side drain hulls, so it can't be blown over) if not hauling it home for garage storage. Inverted on a trailer or rack of some sort works well too. (tilted slightly to put that drain hole at the low point)

                    Without in person inspection, I'd consider a light fiberglassing of the inside of the daggerboard slot. The wood kit has a bunch of joints (every corner) and that's opportunities for leaks to have developed. 3/4 oz cloth strips covering the inside of that slot will go a long way toward preventing problems.

                    Its pretty easy to google for the drawings needed to make a daggerboard to match the original.


                    • #11
                      I did find a detailed drawing for a dagger and plan to make it next week.
                      I am making a rack to store the boat inverted. I don't recall a drain plug, but draining after each use is SOP for me anyway.
                      Fiberglass the inside of the dagger slot would be a real challenge - I have no way to smooth any bumps. I agree that would be the safe course. I will see if I can find any tips on working inside a narrow slot.


                      • #12
                        On my Sunfish . . . I had to mix up some thickened epoxy to seal up some apparent cracks in the dagger board trunk where it mated to the deck. I think I used a putty knife to work it into the cracked areas and then laid some plastic wrap inside the trunk walls to keep it in place while it cured.
                        Best regards, Ted . . . . Cape Cod, MA

                        Formula 330 Sun Sport, O'Day Mariner Sail #3224, Sunfish
                        Past Boats: Catalina 22 Sail #10531, Formula 242 Sun Sport
                        Twin Mercruiser 7.4 LX MPI (0F802036, 039), Bravo 3's (0F806198, 199), Mercury 7.5 HP (1969), Johnson 4.5 HP (1980)

                        My Boating Web Pages: http://www.tpenfield.com


                        • #13
                          The Sunfish fleet adopted a plastic daggerboard several years ago. There are wooden ones in garages around any group of Sunfish who race. If you are near one group, or fleet, contact them. Someone may very well hand you a wooden dagger board, or 2. Look up Sunfish fleets and see if any are near you.
                          Any good enamel will be great for that boat. The one part Urethanes, ( Urethane enhanced Enamels) are good too.The original kits contained exceptionally good materials.
                          The daggerboard slot may always be a trial if it leaks. But if it does it will not leak much. Be careful of any repairs inside the slot, or your new dagger board may not fit.
                          You do seem to have a Super Sailfish sail with your Sunfish. They are the same size, 75 sq ft. and probably nylon. If you get around a racing fleet, sails are another thing to ask about. They use newer white sails and change them somewhat frequently.
                          There may be older more colorful sails available for change, and shipping a sail is not expensive. For their purposes, the white sail is faster. For your purposes that may not matter. Either sail will work well for your boat.
                          If you make a new friend, or find the information on the internet, you will discover the racing fleets have changed the running rigging somewhat. Some of the changes are practical and help. some of them may help on the race course, but are complicating for day sailing in your backyard.
                          Wish I were there. My first sailboat was a Super Sailfish Kit for Christmas. It cost $247 and provided many years of fun, both building and sailing and maintaining.The Sunfish is the evolution of the 11 and 13 ft Sailfish from which it evolved.

                          Good Luck and Best Wishes with your new baby.
                          You do know that once your adopt a Sunfish, you must keep it.


                          • #14
                            Sign up today
                            I wish you well,
                            Good enamels will work well as will the one part urethanes. Some call them urethane enhanced enamels.
                            Daggerboards have changed to plastic, which leaves a bunch of older wooden daggerboards in garages all over, but particularly around racing fleets of Sunfish where someone may very well hand you one or two.
                            The national fleet web site may have information about new ideas in rigging. Some are good, and some are complicating for day sailing. All may be of interest. The sites will tell you where the Sunfishers lurk.
                            Sails are similar, They use a newer white sail and therefore may have older white and colorful ones around for change.
                            The piece of wood for your daggerboard is a nice piece of mahogany or teak possibly.
                            These old wooden Sunfish are well built of good materials.
                            Be careful of building up inside the daggerboard trunk, or your board may not fit.
                            Good Luck with your project. It will be worthwhile.