Posts Tagged 'intensity sails'

sunfish sailing terror [video]

this video was posted a few days ago on the Sunfish Forum (link).  it is a little long at 21+ minutes, but it is interesting for a few reasons:

  • for those wind and wave conditions, it sure seems like he started with the sail set too high – lowering the sail rig would’ve helped with the overturning moment he would see and have to counteract with his body weight, position, and healthy dose of hiking out.
  • he has multiple capsizes, with the Sunfish going full “turtle” and flipping upside down.
  • he has a rigging failure out on the water, with the halyard attachment to the upper boom coming loose, I think during the first capsize.  it seems as if the upper end of the halyard has maybe a snap shackle attached to it (about 6:30 in the video) and he uses a strange knot setup to re-attach the halyard.  typically, the halyard is attached to the upper mast with a clove hitch.
  • he has a lot of trouble raising the sail back up – this is certainly not an easy task out on wavy water, but it appears his halyard was twisted around the mast, and that certainly wouldn’t help at all. instead of pulling towards himself, he would have had better luck holding the sail with his left hand and pulling down on the halyard alongside the mast.
  • he has an older swivel cam cleat at the cockpit lip (I think he hooks the tail end of the halyard into it?) but also a mainsheet block there as well. it might be simplest to remove whichever isn’t getting use to help with confusion while sailing.
  • he could probably use a good Sunfish rigging guide to familiarize himself with the key knots to use and the optimal setup for his mainsheet and halyard.
  • he has a green “lifeline” that he attaches to himself and the boat – while this is probably not a bad idea, I felt like there was just a tangled mess of lines each time he capsized.
  • overall, he did keep pretty good spirits despite each setback, and found a way to limp back to shore and safety – probably with a newfound realization of his level of sailing skill and what he needs to learn from and improve upon.
  • it’s never easy to admit failure, so kudos to him for sharing it – hopefully he and now the video viewers can learn from it.

full warning: this was filmed live during the event and he certainly uses some rough language, quite understandable in the situation, but watch your volume if you’re around young children when watching.

any other thoughts and comments?

sunfish mainsheet controls upgrade

I’ve written several posts in the past about upgrading to a Sunfish mainsheet ratchet block and the associated rigging to control your mainsheet.

six years ago, I said the following, and I still believe it to be true:

I really enjoy playing the mainsheet through the ratchet block, and enjoy how the sheave on the ratchet block grips the mainsheet, so that the amount of pull I see is reduced, helping to keep my hands and arms from tiring as quickly.  I also like that this setup will force me to focus more on the sail trim, instead of just using my old setup to set it and then forget it.  I’d highly recommend this upgrade to other Sunfish sailors.

the Harken 2135 ratchet block, in particular, has grooved edges on the inside of the sheave.  these grooves help to “grip” the line and reduce the amount of line pull by a factor of up to 10:1.  so if the sail is pulling with 100 lbs, your hands gripping the mainsheet could see a reduced load, maybe as little as 10 lbs.  over a long day of sailing, this will be significant!

part numbers and such are strewn along between the various blog posts, so I wanted to pull everything together in one place with a nice summary parts list and I made a labeled diagram to show what parts go where.  the picture is from our Minifish, but a similar setup is what I use on my Sunfish as well.

mainsheet cleat parts list

here is the parts list (while most of these parts are available at most Sunfish suppliers, I have the links all directed to Dieball Sailing.  you can find the same part numbers at your preferred or local supplier as well):

  • Harken 2135 ratchet block (link)
  • a cheaper ratchet block option is the Holt Nautos block, via Intensity Sails (link)
  • Harken 150 cam cleat (link)
  • Spring Cup HSB2 (link)
  • Stand up spring H071 (link)
  • Eyestrap, LP91100 or H137 (link)
  • Stainless steel fasteners (I use machine screws, with a large flat washer and a nylon locking nut on the interior of the boat)

all told, you’re looking at an upgrade in the $70 to $100 range (depending on which ratchet block you pick).

if your Sunfish was a barn find or a cheap pick off of craigslist, this might be a lot compared to the price of your boat, but trust me: you’ll be happy with the upgrade if your current Sunfish setup only has the old “knee-knocker” hook at the lip of the cockpit.

upgrades for a Minifish

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):

  1. a mainsheet ratchet block
  2. a cleat for the mainsheet
  3. a mast cleat
  4. a hiking strap
  5. 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.

minifish mast cleat_2

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.

minifish port_2

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.

minifish mainsheet block_2

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.

minifish cleat

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.

minifish tiller ext

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!

Noah minifish

 

 

 

sailing supplies

I was trying to organize my basement shop, and had my sailing supplies in 3 or 4 different boxes.  I decided to organize them a little better, but before I did that – I laid most of it all out on one of my workbenches.

sailing supplies

there is a little bit of everything there: an old rudder head that needs to be cleaned up.  a pair of old tiller straps that have been polished up to look almost like new. a new tiller extension (a Ronstan Battlestick). bailers, old and new.  sail rings, old and new.  inspection ports. new lines – a mainsheet, halyard, outhaul and cunningham.  cleats – cam and clam. two options for Sunfish mainsheet control – a new ratchet block and an old swiveling fairlead and cleat. eyestraps, standup springs, hiking straps.  Interlux varnish, West System epoxy stuff, and the remains of my 2-part expanding foam (use to reset my foam blocks).

anything else I should add to my collection?

 

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.


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