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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 06-12-2013
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sunfish keel repair

Hi all,

I'm new to sailing and have acquired a sunfish to learn to sail in. The hull is in good shape overall, but has suffered keel rash from multiple beach launchings. The fiberglass is structurally sound, but the gel coat is warn away to the cloth weaving. I've done a bit of research and understand the difference between waxed and unwaxed gel coat. But I'm not sure how many coats or how thick I should make the gel coat.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

~ Carl

PS - I have worked with fiberglass in the past as well as different auto finishes. ...if that matters at all.
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Old 06-12-2013
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Re: sunfish keel repair

Quote:
Originally Posted by cederholm View Post
Hi all,

I'm new to sailing and have acquired a sunfish to learn to sail in. The hull is in good shape overall, but has suffered keel rash from multiple beach launchings. The fiberglass is structurally sound, but the gel coat is warn away to the cloth weaving. I've done a bit of research and understand the difference between waxed and unwaxed gel coat. But I'm not sure how many coats or how thick I should make the gel coat.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

~ Carl

PS - I have worked with fiberglass in the past as well as different auto finishes. ...if that matters at all.

Gelcoat is just a cosmetic finish... No structual strength in it.

The the answer has to be apply a few coats and sand till smooth you can keep applying gelcoat with wax in it after sanding .each coat till you have the job as smooth as you would like it to be.
Then a very thin coat just to seal it all off...
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Old 06-12-2013
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Re: sunfish keel repair

I use unwaxed gelcoat then spray with PVA and let cure. The PVA washes off with water the next day. Get some PreVal sprayers to apply the products. I get them from Home Depot.
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Old 06-12-2013
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Re: sunfish keel repair

Carl,

For a restoration type of a job, gelcoat is certainly the way to go. As you can tell, running the hull up on the beach (or boat ramp) takes a toll over time. I'm a big fan of unwaxed gelcoat, since you can apply additional coats without having to sand after each one.

Another option you may want to consider is simply painting the naked glass. The only time it's gonna show is when it's on the trailer or when you don't ease the mainsheet or round up in time (which is one of the great/fun things with a Sunfish!).
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Old 06-13-2013
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Re: sunfish keel repair

Thanks all!

PorFin, what type of paint would you use for something like this?

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-13-2013
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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.
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Old 06-13-2013
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Re: sunfish keel repair

Hey CalebD,

Some great advice, thank you! I see you're also in NYC, do you sail around the city?

~ Carl
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Re: sunfish keel repair

The Sunfish program I help out with is in Hempstead Harbor on the Sound, where I learned how to sail many moons ago.
We keep our 27' boat up the Hudson near the Tappan Zee bridge but sailed it there from the Sound.
Some people do keep boats around NYC (79th St. boat basin, Newport, Liberty Landing, Sheepshead Bay) but I prefer to pass through NYC's waterways rather than day sail there. Too much traffic and I guess I prefer more natural scenery than the urban landscape. Also the costs for keeping a boat right here in NYC are quite high.
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Last edited by CalebD; 06-13-2013 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 06-14-2013
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Re: sunfish keel repair

Yes, the thought of sailing these waters is pretty intimidating to me. I'll be learning and sailing in the sound off of Ct.

btw - with all your sunfish repairing, if you happen to run across a serviceable "newer" style rudder and hardware, I'm in need. I don't mind an old tattered one.

Thanks again for the advice.
Carl
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Old 06-18-2013
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Re: sunfish keel repair

One thing to check might be whether an old Sunfish might have a gap in the hull to deck joint that could let water in and make the boat too nasty (heavy with water) to sail after a while. Soap and a hair dryer (with hull openings closed except for the one used by the hair dryer) might be useful tools for finding any hull leaks.
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