Posts Tagged 'super porpoise'

small sailboat garage storage

while flipping through old photos yesterday (when I found the photo of my 1st sail in a Sunfish), I also found this picture of how I used to store my old Super Porpoise when we used to live down in southeastern Indiana.  the Super Porpoise was shortly produced as a slightly larger version of the Sunfish, but with a lot of similar features, and the same lateen sail (although a tad larger sail area).

our garage at that house had a large amount of extra space above the garage doors.  I installed (4) heavy-duty eyebolts in the garage ceiling, making sure they were securely screwed into the wood trusses on the other side of the drywall.  I then just used a couple pieces of rope, maybe 1/2″ diameter standard rope you could find at a hardware store, so nothing fancy.  I think there were a few S-hooks to make it easy to connect the rope to the eyebolts.

as you can see, it actually was hanging below the garage door (in its open position), but was still high enough that our smaller sedan could be parked easily right below the boat.  I also tossed some more stuff on the boat as you can see the mast, as well as an old plastic kiddie pool for my son to play in during the hot summer days.

this would be a lighter-duty version of winter storage than what I’m currently using at my dad’s barn, with 2×4 hangers and a 2×4 cross beam holding up my 2 Sunfish.

sunfish rudder and daggerboard repair – progress

a long while back I posted about refinishing my Sunfish and Super Porpoise rudders and daggerboards.  I proceeded to sand down a bit of the finish on the Super Porpoise parts, but sailing seasons got in the way, along with various other winter woodworking projects, and I never got back to finishing them, or even starting on the Sunfish wood parts.

so this winter, I bit the bullet and plunged full bore into refinishing the wood parts from all (3) of my boats – (2) Sunfish and (1) Super Porpoise.  here is a look at the (2) Sunfish rudders.

the lower rudder is from my new(er) 2000 Sunfish, the upper rudder is from my 1960’s Sunfish.  strangely the older rudder seems to be in quite a bit better shape, and the newer rudder appears to have some type of finish glooped onto it, some sloppily gumming up the rudder spring as well.

step 1 was removing the hardware and inspecting the condition of each piece.  the older rudder has a couple cracks up near the head, and the drilled holes for the rudder pins are all misshapen from years of use.

the newer rudder is in similar condition at the rudder pin holes, with no noticeable cracks.  but the finish that was used is all gummed up and just looks horrible.  pretty severe were is noticeable at the one rudder pin hole.

the daggerboard from the newer Sunfish was coated with the same finish, and was likewise a sloppy mess.  step 2 would be to strip the finish from the wooden parts.  since I would be working in my make-shift woodshop in my basement, I opted for the Citristrip (“safer”) Paint & Varnish Gel.  after brushing the orange stripping agent on and letting it sit for a while, I then used various scrapers to remove the finish.

the Citristrip gel worked pretty well for the older wooden parts, but the (2) newer pieces with the strange finish were hardly phased by it.  I hit them with a 2nd coat, and let is sit and soak longer, but it didn’t work much better the 2nd time around.  after consulting with some a Sunfish expert (thanks Alan!), I think we determined that the sloppy finish was some type of epoxy, which made it that much more difficult to remove.

step 3 was thus my process to get each board to a stripped and ready-to-finish condition.  I used my random orbit sander, and worked my way through several grits, carefully starting with 40 grit.  normally, I wouldn’t use 40 grit, as it is quite rough, and even then I only used it for the flat portions, but extreme measures were required to get through that sloppy epoxy. 

I then would work my way up to 60, 80, 100, and 120 grit papers, and by then the boards felt pretty smooth.  I used a bit of 60 grit paper by hand on the edges, and then jumped right up to 150 grit to finish out smoothing the edges.  during the power-sanding, I wore a sanding mask, and had my large shop dust collector running right near the workpiece, as well as my air cleaner that is hanging from the floor joists to help keep dust down as much as possible.  every once in a while, I would empty the small bag that collects sanding sawdust on the random orbit sandpaper into a plastic jug – as I will be re-using some of the sawdust later for repairs.

I didn’t try to sand out some of the deep gouges, as you can see above, but will use a filler later on those areas.  some of the leading and trailing edges of the boards had some dry rot that I removed as best I could.  I used a block plane to slightly re-shape the daggerboard edges by hand.

step 4 is various repairs.  the upper ends of the daggerboard have holes of various shapes and sizes from the hardware that had kept the handle in place.  some were just stripped nail holes, some were bolt holes that had pulled right out of the board end grain.

I used some blue painter’s tape to dam off the end, as well as to close of the bottom of the board.  I then mixed up a batch of West System epoxy (I buy mine at Jamestown Distributors or US Composites).  I have the 105 resin and 206 slow hardener as shown above.  to this I mixed in some of the 404 high-density adhesive filler (white in color), and I added in some of the saved sawdust (in the plastic container on the left in the picture above) to get the epoxy mixture colored similar to the wood.

this picture is the end result – from the side the blue tape was on.  the other side needs to be sanded and smoothed down some as I didn’t apply the epoxy perfectly level.  but I was impressed at how well the simple blue painter’s tape worked on the bottom and end grain areas.  I will probably use this same mixture to fill in the out of round holes in the rudder heads, and just re-drill new holes after the epoxy has hardened.

for the cracked sections, I am going to try to reinforce the cracked area by drilling a hole and inserting a dowel, set in place with some epoxy.  I cut a small notch in my Super Porpoise rudder to create a flat area to start drilling.  I’m sure it would help immensely to have a drill press, or create some sort of jig – but I don’t have either, so I just free-hand drilled the 1/4″ diameter hole.  I had bought an 18″ long drill bit at the hardware store that worked well. for the dowel – I am using a stainless steel piece of 1/4″ diameter threaded rod, cut to length after I’ve drilled the hole.  it is shown below, only partially inserted into the drilled hole.  it won’t be visible after I’ve filled the hole with epoxy.

again, I just mixed up some of the West System epoxy (which with the metered pumps is a breeze to get the ratios correct).  this time I didn’t add any filler (although I probably could have used the 404 for added strength), and used the dowel to insert as much as I could down into the drilled hole before placing the threaded rod in there for good.  I will use this same repair on the cracked Sunfish rudder head.

with the remainder of the epoxy I had mixed up, I added some 407 low-density fairing filler (the 404 sets up really hard and is difficult to sand, the 407 is softer and easier to sand into a nice finish).  the 407 filler is already a brown color, but I think I added some sawdust anyway.  I then just applied this to various small gouges and nicks on the various rudders and daggerboards to fill any spots as required.

after this has dried and hardened, I will sand the patched areas smooth, and do a final check on each board before the finishing process can begin.

I still have some work to do (dowels in the Sunfish rudder head, epoxy the Sunfish rudder pin holes to then re-drill, etc), but progress has been made.  now the weather has been crazy warm in Michigan this late winter(?) and early spring, so I’ve got to get in high gear to make sure the parts are ready for sailing as soon as possible.

small boat sailing in a lightning storm

Alan Glos who posts often at the Sunfish Forum passed along this article he had written a while back for Duckworks Magazine, and I thought I’d share it here as well.  he recounts sailing on Crystal Lake, an AMAZING lake in the northwest part of Michigan’s lower peninsula.  he was sailing on an old Super Porpoise, similar to a Sunfish, but slightly larger.  the article is “An Encounter with Lightning,” here are a few quotes:

On this particular day the wind was light and the atmosphere was uncharacteristically muggy. After an hour or so, I found myself completely becalmed near the center of the lake.

The calm persisted. I had a clear view toward the west side of the lake and to my horror I saw a classic line squall bearing down on me and my becalmed boat at an alarming rate of speed.

what do you think? was his method to minimize his risk of a lightning strike the best idea, or was there a better alternative?

But the important question was the lightning factor, specifically was I safer mostly submerged in the lake or by being in the lake was I more prone to the ill effects of a surface strike?

sunfish mainsheet block update

early this spring, I laid out my plans to upgrade to a Sunfish mainsheet block for controlling/holding the mainsheet, as my current setup on the Sunfish left a little to be desired (but was better than nothing on my Super Porpoise).  here is the picture of my old set-up, a swiveling fairlead with a cam cleat to hold the mainsheet if I wanted.  I also had the old hook on the cockpit edge (the really old method used to hook the mainsheet and relieve the tension you had to hold with).

my original plan was based on a few posts over at the Sunfish Forum that recommended trying to use a low-profile swiveling cam cleat and modify it with an eyestrap and stand-up spring, and then add your mainsheet ratchet block of choice — similar to this diagram below:

but, the more I looked at the diagram, and thought about how this system would work, I couldn’t wrap my brain around something: after I fed the mainsheet through the ratchet block, and then the through the little strap over the cam cleat, I didn’t think I would be able to really take advantage of the ratcheting action of the mainsheet block.  turns out my suspicions were correct as noted here – scroll down to comment #38 on this post over at the Sunfish Forum.

I decided I’d instead go with a simpler and slightly cheaper route: I would just remove the old swiveling cam cleat, and install an eyestrap on the deck.  the mainsheet ratchet block would then connect to the eyestrap.  then, to give myself the option to cleat the lines in light air or similar situations, I removed the old hook, and added a standard cam cleat.  for my setup, I used the Harken 2135 57mm ratcheting carbo block and the Harken 150 cam cleat.

here is a picture of what the ratchet block looks like with the mainsheet running up to the sail, and the other end of the line held in your hand (picture is simulated – I didn’t want to set up the whole rig, so my 9-yr old son was just holding both lines up in the air).

here is a picture with the mainsheet fed through the ratchet block and then cleated in the Harken cam cleat, with a stopper knot tied in the end of the mainsheet.

I had also bought a stand-up spring that would keep the ratchet block standing upright, and prevent it from bouncing around on the Sunfish deck, but honestly – it was ridiculously hard to compress the spring down and then to try to slowly feed the little split ring onto the pin holding the ratchet block in place (in fact, I never did get it fully installed).  after talking a bit with other sailors at the Sunfish Forum – some have had success using zip-ties or something of that nature to compress the spring, then install the ratchet block, and then cut off the zip-ties.  most of them leave the ratchet block on permanently, though, and I wanted to be able to easily and quickly install mine before sailing and then remove it after sailing so that I wasn’t trailering the boat with the ratchet block flopping around.  so as of right now, I will probably skip the stand-up spring, but keep it in case I figure out a way to cover/protect the ratchet block while I’m trailering the boat.

overall, I’m extremely happy with the setup I have now.  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.

my2fish blog 1st birthday

today (july 17th) is the 1-year birthday of the blog “my2fish”!

sometime during last spring/early summer, I had been trying to figure out a way to keep track of the days that I went sailing, as well as to keep track of the repairs that I had planned, and the repairs that I figured would be coming as I spent more time investigating my 40+ year old sailboats – the Sunfish and the Super Porpoise.  as I toyed with the best way to keep a “log” of those kind of things, I decided to try my hand at writing a blog.  a few family members and friends had already been blogging before me (Hooray & Wrinkled Page – check them out), and I had been reading blogs for some time, but this would be my 1st attempt at it myself.

so 1 year ago it was a late Friday night, I had put my 3 boys to bed for the night, and my wife was at a Kid Rock concert with some friends from work!  I briefly looked at Blogger and WordPress, decided to give WordPress a try – and then just jumped right into it, and blogged my 1st post.

t2 & me sailing in towards shore

after 1 year, my2fish is closing in on 20,000 page views (should be there in 2 or 3 days).  the first few months were slower, averaging about 1,000 page views a month, but this spring and now summer have brought a big upswing in blog traffic, with each month breaking the previous month’s record – with June posting about 4,500 page views for the month. (note: WordPress stats are based on page views… I later on set up Sitemeter, which I think tells me I average just about 1.5 page views per visitor.)  I find it is getting easier to find things to write about as well – I’m a bit behind as it is right now, as I currently have a to-do list of 20 posts that need to be written (some boat repairs, some sailing and camping trips, and some reviews of Sunfish parts suppliers).

I’ve spent a lot of time reading forums, blogs and books – trying to find tips about learning to sail.  my goal was to absorb as much information as I could, to do my best to get the means and methods down pat in my mind, as well as pass along good information when I find it.  I think my post “learn to sail in 3 days” has probably been my busiest post ever with about 1,500 page views.

last fall, I went and watched my first ever Sunfish race – it was a fantastic time, and I was able to get some great pictures.

I’ve followed with great interest the Sunfish Worlds events, both in 2009 and 2010.

I just recently joined the Sunfish Class – and have my own sail number now (it’s #80872).

I haven’t sailed quite as frequently as I’d like, but I have had a couple really great sailing trips, including the sail with my son, T2, on Lake Michigan (see the picture above). and I know that as my 3 young boys get older, I’ll get to spend more time sailing with each of them.

I’ve met some great friends with sailing or water-related blogs – stop by some of the blogs in my blogroll over at the right side, as most of them are much more interesting than mine! overall, it’s been a great 1st year, and I’m looking forward to many more to come!

sunfish mainsheet block

NOTE: see my updated post with a new setup here: sunfish mainsheet block upgrade

my current set-up on my Sunfish for controlling the mainsheet is a bit out-dated (for any non-sailors, the mainsheet is the line you pull in or let out to adjust the angle of the sail).  here is a picture of my current setup on the Sunfish.  there is a swiveling fairlead and cleat, and then the original hook below it on the lip of the cockpit edge.  my older Super Porpoise has nothing to hook the mainsheet on – no cleats, no hook, no nothing! so this was a big improvement for me as I was learning to sail the Sunfish.

by passing the mainsheet thru the fairlead, I then have the option if I want, to cleat the sheet when I have the sail position set.  the 2nd picture showing the mainsheet in the fairlead – the sheet goes up to the sail, and the sheet coming towards me is what I’ll hold while sailing.

over at the Sunfish Forum, I have noticed a few threads over the past few months discussing options to upgrade the controls for the mainsheet.  in the same discussions, though, there is also the debate on whether on not cleating the mainsheet is such a good idea.  one side takes that stance that the mainsheet should never be cleated, as you should constantly be adjusting the sail trim to optimize the sail in the wind, and that cleating could also present a potentially dangerous situation if a gust of wind is too strong, and causes the boat to capsize. as a guy fairly new to sailing, I tend to agree with the other side, though, in that having the option to cleat the mainsheet certainly is nice on occasion.  it gives your arms/hands a quick break, and gives you the chance to grab a snack or drink of water.  and especially when I am sailing with a 2nd person or a child, I find it easier to set the sail position and cleat the sheet, and then fine-tune things with adjustments made to the rudder position.  I recognize that this can lead to capsizing, if a rather large gust were to hit the sail, and I wouldn’t be able to un-cleat it quickly enough to depower the sail.  I also don’t really mind the occasional capsize, though, and feel it gives me a chance to get cooled off, and practice righting the boat back up!  I only have to remember to uncleat the sheet prior to righting the boat.

anyway, going back to the debate on how to upgrade the mainsheet controls.  someone at the Sunfish Forum put together this handy diagram for an option to include a swiveling cam cleat and a mainsheet block.

it is more or less agreed upon that the harken 241 ($56) is a good option for the swiveling cam cleat base, which you then remove the fairlead, add an eyestrap and stand-up spring, and then a ratchet block.  the 2 suggested options for the mainsheet block are the harken 019 and the harken 2135.

the harken 019 ($58) is often referenced on the Sunfish Forum as the standard.  the 019 is a “little hexaratchet”, with a 2.25″ diameter sheave.

the harken 2135 ($52) is the other mainsheet block occasionally, but not as frequently, thrown out as a viable option.  it is specified as a 57 mm block (which is equal to 2.25″, so the same as the 019 above).  the 019 doesn’t specify it’s holding power, but the 2135 provides a 10:1 holding power, so significantly decreasing the amount of pull required to keep the sail sheeted in.

I decided to go straight to the (a?) source, and called up Torresen Marine (also online at, and spoke to a very helpful representative named Christopher (providing another example of great customer service).  we discussed the use as the mainsheet for a Sunfish, and the two different options from harken, 019 vs the 2135.  he mentioned to me that the 019 has been around since probably the 1960’s, and that they (Torresen) mainly keep the 019 in stock for people who are looking to upgrade their block, but match it with the look of other hardware on their sailboat. he continued on to say that the 2135 is the more current model, and as such has newer technology adapted into the design, and should be lighter as well.  he highly recommends the 2135, and as a bonus – it’s a couple dollars cheaper!

I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it, but that’ll be my plan going forward – use the harken 241 mainsheet cam cleat, but add on the harken 2135 with the eyestrap and stand-up spring.  I’ll probably use the old model off my Sunfish for the Super Porpoise, so it ends up being an upgrade in a way for both of my boats, and would cross a few things off my never-ending parts list.

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