the recent addition of a Minifish to our fleet required some minor upgrades to make it a little bit easier for my boys to sail. typically with an older Sunfish style boat, it is almost always a good idea to get rid of the old style of mainsheet control, a snub-nosed hook on the wall of the cockpit.
a few recommended upgrades to consider (in no specific order):
- a mainsheet ratchet block
- a cleat for the mainsheet
- a mast cleat
- a hiking strap
- a tiller extension
our Minifish already had a decent hiking strap, but the other upgrades should be simple enough.
the mast cleat is a horn cleat, screwed onto the mast a couple feet above the deck. I typically use stainless steel screws, with small pilot holes drilled into the mast. a small dab of 3m 4200 or caulk helps seal everything up. the mast cleat allows the majority of the tension on the halyard (the line holding up the sail) to be resisted by the strong aluminum mast, and more importantly – it doesn’t put that very large tension force on the fiberglass deck of the boat. important note: you should still run the tail of the halyard down through the fairlead on the deck and cleat off the line. this will prevent the entire sail/mast/booms from falling away from the boat if you do end up tipping over and turtling the boat.
the mainsheet controls (a ratchet block and a cam cleat) are a little bit trickier to install on a Minifish, as the cockpit is a bit different style of construction than a Sunfish – there is not a cockpit lip that gives easy access to the underside of the fiberglass at that location. so you will have to install an inspection port somewhere in close proximity to where you’ll be placing your mainsheet controls. I chose to cut mine in on the deck, off to the side of the daggerboard slot. depending on where you cut the deck, you may run into some of the flotation foam blocks that stiffen the deck – removing a small portion to give you access should not be a concern.
for the mainsheet ratchet block, I bought a Holt Nautos 57mm block from Intensity Sails. add a stand-up spring and an eyestrap, and screw it down through the deck – some larger fender washers below the deck are a good idea to help spread out the load.
on the front edge of the cockpit, I install a cam cleat, a Harken H150, in the same location where the old snub-nosed hook used to be. I like this location for a cam cleat, as it is not really practical to cleat off the mainsheet while hiking out and sailing with decent winds. but in a lighter breeze, it does give you the option to cleat the mainsheet and grab a drink or just float along one those calmer days.
lastly, I replaced the old wooden tiller extension with a Ronstan Battlestick. theses newer tiller extensions have a rubber universal joint – which allows for more degrees of freedom while holding the tiller extension. the old wooden ones just fastened to the tiller with a single bolt, only really allowing left/right movement.
all told, there are mostly easy and simple upgrades that will make a Minifish (or similarly for a Sunfish) a much nicer sailing experience!
and the end result? happy boys sailing the Minifish!