Is it worth it to fix the sunfish?

After receiving the unwelcome and discouraging guidance from that well known west coast Catalina supplier that I should take the Catalina 22 to a boat yard to finish the keel weldment repair, I redirected my attention to the Sunfish I’ve carried around with me for the last 2 years.

This is what it looked like when I first saw it:

Being given a sunfish

First look at the Sunfish

Here is what it looked like recently when I took out the splash guard grommets:

Recent sunfish photo

Recent sunfish photo

I’ve been wavering back and forth about just repainting it as is, or removing the beat up trim first. It will cost around $100 to get replacement trim for it, so it’s not exactly a trivial matter. I decided to take the trim off carefully and see if I could maybe polish up the trim and reuse it. This was fine for the bow and starboard trim.  The rivets don’t actually go all the way through the trim.  They just go through the top layer and into the fiberglass.  First you drill out the center…

drill out the rivet

drill out the rivet

just…enough.. to get the top to pop off.

rivet drill out complete

rivet drill out complete

Starting at the end of the trim piece, I just pried the trim over the remaining rivet post and off it came.  Easy as pie.  It’s interesting to see that the original paint job was done before the trim was added.  Very nice Bicentennial stripe there – this is a 1976 Sunfish and the stripes match the old (rotted and useless but with pretty red white and blue colors) sail.

Old Bicentennial stripe

Old Bicentennial stripe

Once I got to the third and last piece on the port side it was a different story.  I broke a drill bit…. and another drill bit.  I noticed these rivets seemed to be bigger than the other ones.

Broke a drill bit

Broke a drill bit

And I was having trouble getting the trim off once the rivet was off.  It. Just. Would. Not. Come. Off!!!  Then I could see why.  It had been caulked in this spot.  Hmmmm….

It just won't come off!

looks like some kind of caulk

Then I saw that these rivets were all the way through the trim.  This boat has already been through a repair job.  I finally got  the last piece of trim off, but unfortunately, it was in about 6 pieces.  So much for reusing the trim.

Not reusing this trim for sure

Not reusing this trim for sure

And this lovely site in the picture below was revealed.  The top has separated from the bottom.
Here you can see there is caulk in the join that might be sealing it – and might not.

hull split

hull split

A little further aft it looks like the hull is fully separated.  In addition, there are quite a few spots around the hull flange that are in pretty bad shape.  Here is the view from the bottom.  Almost everywhere that had a large rivet (about 3 feet on the port aft quarter) it looks like this.

other damage

other damage

So.  I’m looking at:

$100 full trim replacement
$100 fiberglass supplies (epoxy, catalyst, cloth, rollers, etc.)
$100 complete sand, paint and gelcoat,
$250 replacement hardware and running gear,
$350 new sail.  (May be able to repair the one I have, but I doubt it)

At least $900 .  I just looked on craigslist and I can get a great looking one for $650.

What to do?

I’m discouraged.  I’m not making progress on either of my boat projects.  I don’t think I’m a very good CapnRehab.


New home for the Cat 22 Keel

You may remember when I got the Catalina 22 replacement keel last year.  I threw some wheels on a shipping pallet and put the keel on the pallet.   Pretty fancy huh?

wheels repaired and pallet re-loaded

Fancy Pallet stand for Catalina 22 keel

Recently, I bought the video on repairing a Catalina 22 keel from Catalina Direct.  In it they show the steps for reconditioning the keel.  This weekend I took the first step down that path and put the keel in a vertical stand so it can be worked on.

The first thing I did was use my engine hoist to pick the keel up.  Well, actually I picked up one end.  It’s pretty long and the hoist isn’t big enough to lift it completely.  Remember this this thing weighs between 500 and 600 pounds, so moving it around isn’t trivial.

Lifting the keel

Lifting the keel

Then I took the wheels from the pallet along with some 2×4 scraps left over from “the project that must not be named”, and made a new support frame.  It was a simple matter of lowering the keel onto the new support and Wa-La, the keel is ready.

Keel on new stand - ready for work

Keel on new stand – ready for work

Wow, that keel needs a lot of work.  A nice thing about this stand is that it takes up way less room than the pallet.

You’ll notice a sunfish on sawhorses in the background of the first picture.  I also did a bit of work there.   More on that next time.


Less than helpful

Let me bring you up to speed on the Keel repair.

My buddy “Curtis in Alaska” scared me.  He finished his keel weldment repair and went sailing.  He told me he had a pinhole leak that over the course of a four hour sail let in about half a gallon of water.  Yikes!  After I do this repair I want zero water in infinite amount of time!  So while I was gung-ho to go ahead and finish, that made me put the brakes on real quick.

As a side note, he’s pulled his boat out of the water for the winter.  HOLY SMOKES, he told me that in August!  Curtis buddy, you know I respect you, but living where it is that cold makes you a bit crazy in my book!

I decided to call a well known (really well known) Catalina parts supplier on the west coast and get some advice before I pulled out the gloves and started slathering on epoxy and fiberglass.  The salesman I reached at first was very helpful and suggested I buy a west systems fiberglass kit they sell.  He also said to be sure and use epoxy and not vinyl.  Then he referred me to tech support.

They should be called tech non-support.   He said it’s simple fiber glassing, nothing special if you know what you’re doing.  He said Curtis’ patch must be leaking because he left air bubbles in it for the water to get through.  He wasn’t even helpful enough to mention what the salesman had said about using epoxy.

After explaining my experience level (almost none-except for the bit where I helped my buddy Phil fix blisters on his keel)

(Hi Phil, by the way, I’ve lost almost all my Florida phone numbers when my phone died – please give me a call or email me so I can look you up next time I go down to FL)

the guy told me the job was too big for me and I should take it to a yard and let them do it!   Argh!!!!!   Made me so mad.  I don’t know why but I get so bent out of shape when I’m fixing a problem that I don’t quite know how to do and someone says I should call an expert.    Maybe I’m just too cheap.

but I figure anything someone else can do I can do – eventually.

Anyway, they were no help so I’m on my own. I may have to practice on the sunfish first.