Cutting a foot well into a sailfish

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Russ Kaiser, May 15, 2013.

  1. Russ Kaiser
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    Location: Winston-Salem, NC

    Russ Kaiser Exuberant Amateur

    I picked up a fiberglass sailfish today for $100. It's all there: sail, rigging, rudder, dagger-board, etc. Other than one or two small spots, the hull is in very good shape, just needing paint. The sailfish is a board boat and unlike the sunfish doesn't have a foot well. My kids probably won't care, but I know I would be more comfortable with a place to tuck my feet even if it's only six inches deep. I know the beam is narrower and it looks like the hull might not be as deep as the sunfish.

    I am pretty handy with fiberglass so I am wondering if I might cut and box in a foot well into this boat. The only problem is I have no idea what the interior bracing looks like. As anyone else tried this or seen it done?


  2. upchurchmr
    Joined: Feb 2011
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    Location: Ft. Worth, Tx, USA

    upchurchmr Senior Member

    My father did the same thing to the plywood version of the Sailfish in the 60's for us to learn on.
    There was no internal bracing/ structure, but there might have been styrofoam.

    I suggest you just cut into it. As I remember we did not fit a "cockpit" drain, so if we dumped it over we had to bail out by hand. If you use plywood to make the sides, use epoxy to bond to the polyester skin, it will have better strength.
  3. Russ Kaiser
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    Location: Winston-Salem, NC

    Russ Kaiser Exuberant Amateur

    Thanks upchruchmr - it's nice to know someone else considered and then did this, even if it was on the wooden model. All of these boats are old because the Sailfish went out of production in 1975. It looks like the hull depth from the deck to the bottom in the area of a proposed foot well averages about 9 inches.

    I am thinking I will box in that entire depth with resin coated plywood and possibly just reinforce the existing bottom from the inside with a new layer or two of 8 oz cloth. This will allow me to utilize the maximum depth available. Of course, my plans may change once I start cutting and I plan on making a small hole first and looking around.
  4. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    I bought a derelict sailfish once. It was all there, just a bit doggy. No place to hang on except some tiny side rails that hurt my behind when hiking. I had threatened to cut a footwell but some guy came along and offered twice what I paid. Had I kept it I would surely have made a footwell and installed some hiking straps.

    I say go for it, just as you have described.
  5. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member


    Some boats with foot wells had a canvas bag fitted with a handle- to bail you lifted the handle & the water came out. Jeff.

  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yep, did it years ago. Use 1/4" plywood, well tabbed to the hull shell with epoxy. Use healthy fillets in each corner and a single layer of 6 - 8 ounce cloth over the fillets will do. 4" - 6" wide cloth tape is ideal, though it'll probably work fine with 3". If using conventional cloth, cut the strips at a 45 degree angle to the weave, so the "tape" over the fillets will have both fiber directions, crossing the fillet.
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