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  #1  
Old 07-30-2008
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An unexpected windfall

Through a bizarre twist of fate I find myself in possession of a Sea Snark hull in reasonable condition. Now I've never sailed anything, I've been on a grand total of one ship that had sails (clipper), and live about as far from an ocean as it's possible while living in the US. However I've always loved sailing vessels, and wanted one of my own. When an opportunity popped up to get a FREE sailboat, even a tiny one made out of foam that is missing everything that can be removed, I had to take it.

Now I've spent the last 24 hours on the internet looking for information on how to get my find back in the water and fulfill a long-time dream.

So here's what I need:

A rudder assembly (found pictures of one)
A daggerboard (found measurements, and specs)
A mast (84" x 1 1/8")
A boom (120" x 3/4")
A spar (120" x 3/4")
A sail
A halyard

The Castlecraft dot com site has been great for repair information.

But I am finding I have questions as I get into this.

The original mast, boom, and spar were aluminum and I think I've found a source for them, but does anyone have the technical material info that would be "right" for the application? I think if I go in and say "I need an aluminum sailboat mast" they're going to look at me like I'm an idiot, which isn't far from the truth. :-)

What is an acceptable material to make the sail out of? All the ones I've found for purchase are over $250 and that would get my wife in a flurry if I dropped that kind of money to outfit a "free" boat. I don't mind making one to get things on the water sooner and I've found reference to people making their own. The pictures of the sail I've seen appear to be a simple equilateral triangle about 10" on a side but I have no pattern to go by.

The boom and spar should be attached at the tack. Is that correct? Is a simple bolt sufficient or should it be something else? At what point along its length should the boom be attached to the mast?

I can't find a local source of marine plywood for the rudder and daggerboard, but this is a pretty light-duty application. Would regular exterior grade plywood well sealed be sufficient for what I'm doing? I'm thinking a fiberglass or epoxy resin coating for the wood parts. Anyone know where I can get a good pattern for the the rudder and tiller assembly?

The hull is a little rough on the outside since it's just bare foam, and I'd like to find something to coat it with that will be a little more durable. When I was cleaning it up tonight I even found a small chunk of coral embedded in it. Where that came from I have no idea. Any suggestions on what could be used to coat it?

Thanks for any and all help.

Bill
The land lubber
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Old 07-31-2008
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Bill,
Concrats on your windfall, welcome to the world of boat ownership complete with all it's pratfalls.

Sails are not flat sheets of -in this case- nylon, but are carefully crafted shapes to bend and shape the air. You can indeed make one at home, including out of tyvek house wrap and glue - but to make it work you have to get the shape right.
The mast and boom are not just simple alum tubing - they are machined and shaped to hold the sail and fit in the step - and have hardware mounted on them to hold down the mast, connect the boom (a gooseneck) and to fasten and control the various lines and sheets used to control the sail.

Rudders, dagger boards etc - are not just flat shapes, they are shaped as hydrofoils to control and direct water, in all likelyhood you can indeed cut them out of plywood and coat them in marine epoxy and paint; pay attention to shape as they do affect performance and usability.

Foam doesn't lend itself well to inexpensive repair. Duct tape and such is about it, and temporary at best. Simply painting it helps for minor abrasion but does nothing structurally - it's not supposed to be a lifetime material nor particulary strong.

Having said all that, according to the website a new snark sea sprite is 1400 bucks. You can do it cheaper, but not better.
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Old 07-31-2008
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Bill...the Snark was my first boat and we had a lot of fun with it. I will try to answer your questions:
The mast and spar's are ver lightweight aluminum and I don't think you need anything special. The key problem for you will be to fit something to the top for the halyard that does not chafe or allow the halyard to jump out. I am thinking perhaps a wooden fitting with a hole in it for the halyard. You do not need a roller (sheave) or anything like that.

The spar lifting point is almost dead in the middle of the spar and you just tie off the halyard to a small fitting screwed into the aluminum.

The sails are nylon and the edges were pockets that you slipped the spar and boom through. There must b cutouts on the spar side for the halyard fitting and on the boom side for the U fitting that goes on the mast.

As to the rudder/daggerboard...I would not use regular plywood. Google marine plywood, or just get some oak or pine solid wood planks and coat them with epoxy well and they will hold up Ok for a few years.

Sorry...no dimensions on the rudder but there are pictures on the castlecraft site you can use to approximate it. Remember, the rudder has to kick up so you need to design a 2 piece system that you can tighten down and yet will kick up when you hit ground. Suggest two pieces of wood with plastic slip sheet between them connected with stainless bolt, large washer and wing nut.

Don't even think about doing anything to the hull. Nothing will work!
These boats sold for 2-300 bucks in the 1970's and the foam hull was discontinued in favor of roto molded polyethylene...which NEW is only $950 buck today. So...have fun...but don't put too much $$ into the restoration process!
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Old 07-31-2008
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My uncle glassed the bottom of the hull of a similar boat (maybe even the same type of boat) to protect it from the oyster beds on the west side of the Sebastian River where he taught us how to sail. It lasted decades and held up well considering how we abused it. I am not sure exactly what he used and he passed away about 20 years ago so I can't ask but I'm sure you should be able to find the right material for the job with a little research.
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Old 07-31-2008
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If you're serious about making some sails for your boat, you might want to get a copy of Small Craft Advisor magazine. They have several books listed inside almost every month that talk about how to do so on a shoe string budget.

If you're going to glass the bottom of the boat, use epoxy resin, not polyester or vinylester resin, since the foam is a form of styrofoam, which the styrene in the polyester/vinylester resins will dissolve. A couple of coats of fiberglass, faired and painted would probably add a lot of strength, and some weight to the hull, but make it much stronger.
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Old 07-31-2008
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I glassed the bottom of a Snark. Cost me maybe $50 in materials and made it a different boat. You have to use epoxy, BTW; polyester (Bondo) eats the styrofoam. Sometimes I wish I still had that boat. You should check Craigslist and eBay; the spars and sails often outlast the hulls. I had a spare sial I picked up for about $20 or so.

If you are going to do it yourself, you might consider just using closet rods and exterior latex paint to make the spars and make a sprit or standing lug; you can find plans all over the place for those. Yes, the mast was aluminum. Mine didn't have a real block (pulley) on top, just a plastic cap with a hole drilled through that you passed the halyard through. I have to agree that unless you get one with all the parts or find the parts used for not much, it usually is not worth restoring. It is kinda cool to have a boat that you can carry, though.
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Old 07-31-2008
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Thanks for all the information and encouragement.

I'm pretty handy with building stuff so this isn't looking like too bad of a project. I think for the immediate future I'm going to concentrate on getting the mast, boom, and spar fabricated. I think I will make a first sail out of whatever I can scrounge up. Apparently the original sail was just a sheet of plastic so I don't think I'll need to break the bank making a new one. I like the Tyvek idea if I can find some without the "Tyveck" logo.

The first daggerboard and rudder I think I'll just chalk up under the "disposable prototype" category as they will probably take some damage while I learn what I'm doing. The next version I'll put more work into making it optimized.

Luckily for me, someone who works a couple offices over from me is a real sailor and will no doubt prove to be a good resource. He's already told me how to right the boat when it tips, which we both fully expect to happen within an hour of launch. :-)

I'm off to take the kids to a waterpark. Back in a couple of days.

Bill
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Old 07-31-2008
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I remember a fellow (back in the day) who sailed a Sea Snark. He won the boat as a prize for collecting "Kool" cigarette pack coupons. Not the healthiest way to acquire a sailboat, for sure.
Anyway, restoration of any sailboat is a noble undertaking and hopefully it will be a rewarding experience for you. Good luck
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Old 07-31-2008
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Have fun at the water park.
There is a Yahoo group devoted to the Sea Snark that will probably have answers and suggestions to your rigging questions. Create a Yahoo ID (if you don't already have one) which is free, then join the group (also free).
snarksailboat : Snark Sailboat Owners Group
There is also a group called sunfish_sailor which has over 1000 members. The rigging of a Snark and Sunfish are quite similar and the Sunfish group has a lot of info available (I joined this group).
Good luck and have fun.
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Old 07-31-2008
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You mean like this..............



That's my uncle on the dock in Sebastian florida, I'm on the far left. note the depth of the water probably about 30' out from shore, the dark areas in the water are oyster beds.
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