Posts Tagged 'intensity sails'

how to replace a Sunfish pintle

Sailing Texas has a sweet step-by-step photo tutorial on their website for how to replace your Sunfish pintle.

the pintle is the pivot point for a Sunfish rudder.  it is a small steel pin with a spring that is attached to the rudder head.  the necked down portions of the pintle are where the whole rudder assembly then attaches to the rudder gudgeon bracket on the back end of your Sunfish.

you can buy a replacement pintle (only the pin) at Intensity Sails for $6.50,  or you can buy the whole kit, including the pintle, the spring, a steel washer, a snap ring, and a cotter pin, from various Sunfish dealers – Colie Sails has the kit for $24.

I’ve never had to do this repair myself, but am bookmarking this how-to page for future reference.

hiking out

after bringing my Sunfish home this weekend after my 1st sail of 2012, I left it out in the driveway to get some sun to help evaporate any moisture that could have gotten inside the hull, and I turned on my Sunfish hull drying fan to help move air through the hull.

as the Sunfish was sitting there in the driveway, my 4-yr old son – who LOVES to climb around on the Sunfish – asked me to put some of the stuff on the boat so he could pretend he was sailing.  so I put on the rudder and tiller, and just grabbed an extra piece of line to feed through the mainsheet block.

I showed him how to hook his toes under the hiking strap and then lean back — “hiking out” — holding the tiller extension with one hand and the mainsheet line with the other hand (I held on to the other end of the mainsheet and tugged on it to make him pretend he was trimming the sail).  he loved it.

I guess it’s never too early to get them started!

sunfish inspection port & hull drying fan

this weekend, I decided to put an inspection port into my new(er) Sunfish. I’ve done this before – cutting holes in my older Sunfish.  this time, I wanted to avoid adding a port on the deck, so instead opted to put the inspection port in the wall of the cockpit.  this would also give me access to the back of the hiking strap attachment, so I could change that out as the current one in the boat was a bit worn out and nasty looking.

I first roughly traced the port onto the wall – this was more difficult than I had imagined because it was tough to get a Sharpie marker behind the lip of the inspection port at the right angle.  I ended up just tracing the inside of the port, and then roughly drawing an outer ring by hand.

some people use a jig-saw to cut in their inspection ports, but I feel that the jig-saw is just about the most worthless power tool known to man, and prefer to use my Roto-Zip, a rotary cutting tool.  I probably should have bought a better cutting bit, but I was able to cut it out no problem.

before I installed the port, I unscrewed the forward attachment for the hiking strap.  I didn’t want the backing nut or whatever the attachment could be to drop off into the hull and be lost.  in my case, though, the backing plate must have been threaded, because I couldn’t find any loose attachment, and it was a machine screw – so I probably could have probably changed it out without the port. oh well.

I installed a new hiking strap from Intensity Sails – at only $13 it is a great deal, and I’ve been very happy with it on my older Sunfish. (and if you look at the link above – the picture on their website is my older boat! – you would think I could get them for free!)  here’s the hiking strap installed in my newer Sunfish:

after that, I installed the inspection port.  you can buy various sizes of ports or deck plates at just about any sailing or boating website – I usually use the 5″ ports.  for installation, I usually run a small bead of 3M 4200 sealant behind the lip of the inspection port.  for fasteners, I used stainless steel oval head #8 x 3/4″ long screws with a nylon locking nut inside.

my newest creation is a drying fan that can be used to help dry out an older Sunfish that might have minor leaks and you come home from sailing with a little bit of water in the hull. for parts, you’ll need a small fan – you can usually find a decent one in an old computer tower, a power converter to get electricity to the fan (you might be able to use batteries, but I’m pretty sure the constant fan running would drain them way too fast), a small piece of screen, and an extra inspection port cover.

first, I cut out a hole in the extra inspection port cover for the fan.  the dimples in the cover for the handle are kind of in the way, so the cut-out isn’t exactly matched to the fan diameter, but it’s not a bad 1st attempt for a home-made job.  a co-worker gave me an old computer fan to use, and we also found an old cell phone charger converter that was close enough in voltage and amperage to the fan.  I mounted the fan to the port cover, and then used Super-Glue to fasten a small piece of window screen to the back of the cover to keep bugs and critters from getting through the opening.

if you’re not able to find an old computer fan and power converter, you can buy the fans pre-wired for a normal plug for about $15 to $20.  you can also buy one of these hull drying fans pre-made from Intensity Sails, but it’s pretty pricey at $80.

upgrading Sunfish lines

if you are in the market for new lines for your Sunfish, there are a plethora of options to choose from at the various Sunfish parts suppliers, as well as by calling your local sail shop, or even going down to the nearest hardware store to find some cheap line.

while the hardware store line is probably your cheapest option, the difficulty is usually that any line you find there will most likely not be low-stretch line, and the line could also absorb water when you are sailing – making it heavier and harder to handle.  neither of those things are deal-breakers for a recreational sailor, but your time of the water will probably be improved by getting sailing line instead.

the Sunfish halyard in a Flemish coil for O'Docker

the Sunfish manufacturer, Laser Performance, has some “official” line kits available at Sunfish dealers.  there is both a recreational ($83) and pro level ($134!) line kits that come with all the lines you could want and need, all pre-cut to the proper length and with the optimized line type for each line use on the Sunfish.  these “official” line kits are rather expensive, though, and there are some better and cheaper options out there.

there is also the Sunfish “Tune-a-Fish Kit“, which includes the standard lines for your Sunfish, but also a hiking strap, plastic sail clips, and a tiller extension universal… all packaged in a cute little cooler with a Sunfish logo.  the kit comes in at a pretty steep $130, though.

Sunfish Tune-A-Fish kit

Annapolis Performance Sailing (APS) also has their own custom line kits: a pro/racing line kit ($99) and a recreational line kit ($50).  the recreational line package is a pretty good deal — I actually bought this line kit last year – and have been very happy with it.  the APS website also shows the approximate line lengths, diameters, and types of line you might consider for each line if you want to buy them individually.

if you are a purely recreational sailor, though, and have found an older Sunfish to start sailing, you might be better off just buying the line individually.  there are the (2) basic control lines – the mainsheet for adjusting sail trim, and the halyard to raise and lower the sail.  a 3rd line to consider is a piece of shock cord, sometimes called a JC strap – to act as a daggerboard retainer.  this shock cord, if long enough, can also be run from the daggerboard up to the tack of the sail (where the 2 booms meet) and back – this will then double as both a daggerboard retainer, and will also help to hold your sail out when sailing downwind in light air.

Intensity Sails has some pretty inexpensive choices for these lines (and some are even on sale right now).  the mainsheet is Bzzz Line available in 7mm or 8mm diameters and is on sale for $13, the halyard is 24 feet of 5mm line and is also $13, and the JC strap is $6.50.

a final line choice is if you want to switch away from the plastic sail clips to sail ties.  I bought a small pre-cut kit last year and switched my new Sunfish sail to the sail ties. the colored line on the right-hand side is the outhaul line that connects to the boom end-cap.

for the future, though, for probably both the sail ties and maybe even the outhauls, I am planning to buy this spool of 1.8mm line from Intensity Sails.  at 100-ft of line, it’s probably more than a typical sailor might need, but I don’t mind having enough to switch over several sails to the sail ties. the 100-ft spool should be enough for 3 full Sunfish sails.

for more information on Sunfish rigging, check out my list of Sunfish rigging guides.

I also went into detail on how I set up my new Sunfish sail (w/pictures).

sunfish wind indicators

as part of my new Sunfish sail set-up that I described a while ago, I mentioned that I had added (3) sets of tell-tales.  the tell-tales are positioned on the sail to help give an idea of how the wind is flowing along the sail, and can give you an idea of how the sail should be trimmed to achieve an optimum air flow.  in addition to adding tell-tales to your sail, there are (2) other methods frequently used on Sunfish to help read how the wind is moving on the water.

one option is a masthead fly, which in the case of a Sunfish, will probably be more effective if it is mounted at the highest point up on the upper spar (and not down lower off the top of the mast).  the masthead fly or wind indicator will be useful for sailing downwind, and will give you an indication of how the wind is shifting, and whether you should jibe. (I haven’t tried anything yet in this department.)

the other option is a wind indicator that is often placed at about eye level and frequently mounted off the upper spar.  the wind indicator here is nice because it will give you an idea of how the wind is puffing and shifting, and can be very helpful for light wind sailing.  there are several commercially available options for wind indicators (APS sells a few, Intensity Sails does too).

the C-Vane for Sunfish is about $30 to $35.

there is also the Kingfisher 200 for $15 to $20.

_________________________________________

I had almost purchased one of those options a while back, but a weekend or two ago, I decided to initially try to create my own wind indicator to mount down at eye level, more or less following the procedure suggested by this pictorial at Windline Sails.  all you need is a coat hanger to bend into a v-shape, and an old cassette tape to cut up to make small streamers.  so I bent up a hanger into a large V-shape, with little drops at the tips of the V to tie the strands of cassette tape to.   I differed slightly from that pictorial, though, in that I didn’t want to mount the coat hanger wind indicator to the upper spar using only duct tape.

my solution (I vaguely recall it mentioned on the Sunfish Forum, so I won’t take credit for the idea) was to take a small piece of 1 1/2″ diameter PVC pipe, maybe 3″ or 4″ long, and cut it into a C-shape.  it took a little trial-and-error to get it just right, but now this C-shaped length of pipe would slip onto the upper spar of my Sunfish sail, and fit snugly enough to not slide up and down the spar, or twist side-to-side… but it is still easy to pull off at the end of a sailing session.  I then drilled a hole to fit the bent section of coat hanger, and screwed the hanger in place (and filed down the tip of the screw that went through the PVC). so this is a view of the back of my home-made indicator, looking at the C-shaped piece of PVC that will “clamp” to the upper spar.

here is a picture of it mounted on the upper spar of the Sunfish sail.  I have it mounted fairly low – you could mount it higher, but I found I can leave it mounted there, and still raise and lower the sail easily without having to move where the clamp is located.  and as usual, anytime I’m fiddling with the boat in the driveway, my 3-yr old climbs aboard saying, “let’s go sailing, Dad!”

the coat hanger wire is hard to get really straight, so it isn’t exactly a thing of beauty.  I made a very small loop/twist at the bottom of the 2″ drop – that’s where I tied a 10″ or 12″ long piece of cassette tape.  the cassette tape is pretty flimsy stuff, so I’ll probably just throw the destroyed cassette into my box of sailing gear, so I’ll always have extra tape to make repairs.  I have seen comments that the cassette tape can be too shifty and show wind too light to really sail in, so another option if you don’t have an old cassette tape is to just use a piece of yarn or something similar.

my 1st time sailing with the homemade wind indicator was 2 weekends ago when I sailed on Lake Erie with my boys.  I was very impressed – it was excellent at showing me the light gusts and puffs of wind, and most importantly, giving me an better idea of the direction of the wind than trying to scan the beach for a fluttering flag or something similar.  once the Sunfish is in motion, you certainly have to take that into account when “reading” the wind indicator, but if you are stalled out in light wind, or barely creeping along in the water, the light cassette tape does a good job of showing you how the wind is shifting, and you might be able to adjust your heading or sail trim, to pick up just a little bit more wind.  I had all the parts necessary to make it lying around, so the bonus here is the only cost for me was the time I spent fiddling around making the wind indicator.

setting up a Sunfish sail

last summer, I bought a new practice race-cut sail from APS for my Sunfish, as well as the recreational line package from APS.  due to a back-order, I didn’t get the new sail until late in the summer, so I didn’t bother trying to use it, or even install it on my spars until this spring.

a few months ago, I posted about making a custom Sunfish logo for my new sail and installing sail numbers.  since then I’ve been tweaking and adjusting some things, with a few projects left to go as well to finish it out… but here’s what I’ve done so far.

I used plastic sail clips (like shower curtain rings) to initially get the new sail installed on both the upper and lower spar.  for a few specific locations, though, I switched out the sail clips for sail ties, and tied them around the spars, with just a bit of slack, using a square knot.  I bought a package of (15) sail ties made from 1/8″ dacron line from the Sailboat Garage, and it was recommended to switch to sail ties at the following locations.

(3) ties at the clew or near the outhaul of the sail.  I used an extra sail tie right at the clew of the sail.  the outhaul line (1/8″ Excel Pro) is off the right edge of the picture.

(3) sail ties at the head off the sail, and (2) sail ties near where the halyard attaches to the upper spar.  the line at the head of the sail is 1/8″ Excel Pro and the halyard is 3/16″ Excel Pro line, both from the APS line package.  the (2) sail ties at the halyard will help prevent the sail clips from making the sail bunch up near the mast.

(2) sail ties at the gooseneck area, (1) at the cunningham location – the 1st sail grommet above the tack of the sail, and again I doubled up and used (2) sail ties at the tack on each spar, so (4) total at the tack.  ideally, that would have been a single piece of line wrapped twice at each spar, but since the sail ties I bought were pre-cut to length, I just doubled them up.  at this time, I also measured back from the front of the lower boom (starting at the end of the aluminum), and marked 1″ increments from 16″ to 23″ for setting the gooseneck for various wind conditions.  having it marked really helps take the guess-work out of adjusting the sail.  I bought my adjustable or quick-release gooseneck (a must-have) from Intensity Sails.

I also installed (3) pairs of tell-tales on my sail.  there is a lot of debate on whether the tell-tales are effective on a Sunfish, but I have found them helpful since I installed them – as I pay more attention to them and try to adjust the sail trim correctly.  the location of the tell-tales is also debatable, but I found this picture from the Sunfish Forum helpful, and more or less copied those locations.

so the picture below is my new Sunfish sail, complete with a new Sunfish logo I made and my sail numbers.  this picture was taken prior to installing the sail ties.  you can see where I installed the (3) pairs of sail tell-tales. by the way, having a sail with a window makes it so much more comfortable on my neck while sailing, so I’d highly recommend the window for any future sail purchase.

for someone starting out, I would probably recommend avoiding the plastic sail clips, and just using the sail ties for all of the grommets on the sail.  the plastic sail clips are a pain to remove once installed, and the sail ties are pretty easy to tie on once you get started on it.  I’ll probably buy this 100-ft spool of 1.8mm line from Intensity Sails and swap out my sail clips on this sail, as well as my others.  the 100-ft spool should be enough for 3 full Sunfish sails.

my next project is to install the outhaul and cunningham cleats on the lower boom to help me shape the sail – I’ve bought the aluminum cleats and line (in a kit, actually), but haven’t installed them yet, so I’ll cover that in a future post.

_______________________________

for good tips on halyard location, gooseneck settings, and setting up your Sunfish sailboat and sail, see the Sunfish Tuning Guide by Scot Kyle.

for more tips on sail ties, tell-tales and general setup for your Sunfish sail, check out the nice Sunfish Bending On and Tuning Guide by Windline Sails.

I mentioned the (2) guides above as well as a few others in my post about Sunfish rigging guide(s).


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