Posts Tagged 'intensity sails'

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.

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).


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