Tartan 27' owner
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked 120 Times in 112 Posts
Rep Power: 9
Re: sunfish keel repair
First, you are going to enjoy having a Sunfish to play around on this summer on the LI Sound. Great boat for learning the basics.
I help out a youth sailing program that uses about 10 Sunfish hulls to get early teens out on the water. Besides instructing and amusing the kids I get to do repair work to these boats.
Like most boats, Sunfish hulls have fiberglass (epoxy & cloth) coated with gel coat when new. The fiberglass provides the structural strength and the gel coat is more of a protective layer. An optimal repair would be to repair any fiberglass and then gel coat over that. This can involve a bit of time & lots of sanding to make it look nice.
With several boats to repair at one time I don't have the patience to deal with gel coat. I repair any holes with cloth & epoxy, sand that smooth and paint with a spray can of auto paint. Paint scratches can be re-painted as needed. Probably a 2 part marine epoxy paint would be better than the auto paint I use but we just try to make the boats use able for the kids rather than make them perfect.
A word of caution about old Sunfish hulls; leaky hulls. We have a number of leaky hulls in our fleet of nearly 20 Sunfish. Once enough water gets inside the hull the boat can become unmanageable to sail as the new internal ballast (water) moves around inside the hull. For this reason we install a drain plug in the "transom" of the hull so it can be drained after each 3 hour session, or as needed.
"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen
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