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.