Posts Tagged 'sunfish sail'

always look on the bright side of life


how could you not have a big smile on your face if you’re sailing underneath a sail logo like this?!

pic found at the Sunfish Forum, posted by Breeze Bender, and used here w/ permission.

talk like a pirate day!

tomorrow, September 19th, is “Talk Like a Pirate Day“!

so shiver me timbers, and blow me down!  use yer pirate keyboard, and navigate the stormy internet seas to stop on by the official website for all kinds of pirate goodies – name generators, “how-to” advice, pirate pick-up lines – it is chock full of good stuff.

now is the perfect time to hoist your Jolly Roger Sunfish sail and storm the seas!

enjoy the day, arrrrr!

sesachacha sunfish

I found this video the other day of a pretty relaxing looking sail on a Sunfish on Sesachacha Pond near Nantucket, Massachusetts.

I really like the graphic of an American flag that he has between the daggerboard slot and the splashguard.  that’s right where I put an inspection port on my old Sunfish, though.

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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