Alcort Standard Sailfish WINNIE

09 Feb 16?

Our friend Alan spotted an Alcort Sailfish for sale up in NY, and he thought we might want it. So he bought it and brought it down to us during his annual Florida run. We in turn bought it from him and also scored a mast and spars for another restoration project on a Sunfish. Her name is WINNIE.

The Sailfish is just under 12 feet long and it has a 65 sf sail. The spars measure 11'7" and it has a tiny rudder. This boat was taken apart for refinishing but the previous owner lost interest....17 years ago. It is in great shape and we'll get to it as we finish up on Barbashela and St. Jacques.

The bare hull weighs 92 pounds, came with all the parts. Just needs caulk and paint, yellow paint that is, like she was originally.

Alcort Sailfish logo.

Kind of like a kit boat!

Rudder mechanism.

1950s Alcort Sailfish mast step and bow handle after a little teak oil, vinegar and metal polish.

Yep those are bronze rivets.

Check out that mast and wooden spars.

18 May 16: WINNIE has her first top coat of Valspar Ultra 4000 Alkyd Enamel, Whipped Apricot. She will remind us of Barbashela. So much so that we decided on her final name, "Winnie."

19 May 16: Skipper loves WINNIE, can't wait to get her on the water.

65 sf of sail, 11'7" long, 31" beam, 92 pounds.

65 sf Sailfish sail over a 75 sf Sunfish sail.

21 May 16:
WINNIE went to the Bagdad Riverfest with Zip. Notice where we painted the sides with Rustoleum Topside Oyster White and added an oak rub strip, stained and sealed with Minwax Polyurethane Mission Oak, attached with #6 brass screws.

23 May 16: Skipper takes Winnie out for the first time in many years. Nice light wind day for a test sail.

26 Apr 17:

We had a question about the length of the rudder assembly carriage bolt on a Super Sailfish. So we went out and measured our Standard Sailfish's bolt which is the same bolt as the Super Sailfish, Super Sailfish MKII and wooden Sunfish. The bolt measured 4 3/4 inches. All of the early Alcort wooden boats and the fiberglass Super Sunfish MKII had a smaller transom than the fiberglass Sunfish. The bolt on the old style rudder assembly for the fiberglass Sunfish is around 7 inches.

Standard Sailfish rudder assembly carriage bolt.

Fiberglass Sunfish rudder assembly carriage bolt (longer).

While I was poking around Winnie I noticed that the transom varnish is kind of crunchy, I think I was in a hurry and used some old varnish. So I'll clean that up and maybe try Total Boat Gleam Satin. I like it on the seat in the Penobscot 14 so far. I also like that JD sends along a free application kit with the varnish that includes 2 paint pots, 2 stir sticks, 2 foam brushes, 2 paint strainers, and a pair of latex gloves FREE (a $10 value).

14 Jun 17:

1953 Alcort Sunfish Zip and 195? Alcort Standard Sailfish Winnie hit the high seas for a messabout today. As always it was a treat to rig these simple boats. Drop the mast through the gooseneck, raise the sail, clip the sheet, clip the daggerboard retainer and pin the rudder. Add a PFD and they're ready to go.

Skipper wore her new hat, a gift from WoodenBoat to commemorate the Relaunching of Winnie in 2016. They were both featured in WoodenBoat Magazine number 257.

Light winds, warm temps made for a peaceful sail. Both boats tacked and gybed beautifully. Winnie sailed with a longer Barrington style daggerboard and the extra 8 inches provided a nice foot rest for the Skipper. Her vintage silk sail sets beautifully and the elephant ear rudder answered the helm at every turn.

Zip cruised with ease, powered by a race cut sail from Schurr Sails Pensacola. Normally too much sail, it was perfect for the zephyr experienced today. She made a very stable camera platform and the cockpit provided a comfortable seating area.

04 May 18:

Light winds, but enough to ghost our Sunfish and Standard Sailfish for an hour.

14 JUN 19:

Gathered some measurements of the sail rig from our Alcort Standard Sailfish WINNIE. But first we compared the 65 square foot sail to a Super Sailfish 75 sf sail.

Gaff and boom are 12' 8". Spruce.

Wilcox and Crittenden bronze boom blocks are set at 6' and 10', fastened with integral screws.

Interconnecting hardware.

Boom and gaff are just over 1 1/2" diameter.

Tapered down to 15/16th inch starting 3 inches from the end, with 3/16th inch bee hole 1 inch from the end.

Mast 9' 7". Spruce and T6061 Aluminum. Sheave set at 9' 3 1/2".

Lower 4 feet is aluminum.

Diameter 2 1/4 inches. Taper to top starts at 6'.

1 3/4 inches at top, with 1 3/4 inch sheave.

Maybe the coolest sail ever.

10-11 Sep 19:

Picked up SMEDLEY, Eddie and his team made the trailer 15' 6" so it will fit in a Pods moving and storage container. They cut off about a foot on the tongue, and the trailer looks better and still tows great. We had asked for a longer tongue when we had the trailer built, thinking we could back the boat all the way into the water, but it turned out it was easy to get the boat on and off the trailer with the rollers.

The Pod arrived and SMEDLEY fits! With room to spare on the side.

Once SMEDLEY was in we built a rack over the top. It holds the Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA and Sunfish MADISON. Suspended above is our wooden Sunfish ZIP, and below are the Standard Sailfish WINNIE and wooden Sunfish CHIP. The rack also held all of the spars and sails, there was also room for 4 Dynamic Dollies which break down easily. We also put the compact planer in the Pod and all of our boat patterns.

12 Sep 19:

The Pod Full of Fish departed to Virginia, full of our Standard Sailfish WINNIE, Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA, wooden Sunfish ZIP and CHIP, Catfish SMEDLEY and fiberglass Sunfish MADISON.

12 Sep 19:

The Pod Full of Fish departed to Virginia, full of our Standard Sailfish WINNIE, Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA, wooden Sunfish ZIP and CHIP, Catfish SMEDLEY and fiberglass Sunfish MADISON.

Next stop Chesapeake! (Editor's Note: The boats went to Chesapeake and were later recalled due to Pandemic. They are loading up again for another try, January 2021.)

28 Jan 21:

We took lines and offset measurements from our early Alcort Standard Sailfish with hopes of building a replica someday, and as a repair reference.

We measured half breadths, plank heights at Stations set in inches from stem to stern. At the stem we measured back 5, 10, 15 and 20 inches then every 10 inches past that for half breadths. The we also located the screws on the side planks that held internal cleats for the transverse frames and took measurement at those locations. We measured plank height as well as keel height. All measurements are to the outer edge of the 3/4 inch thick plank and 1/4 inch thick deck and hull, so frame measurements would have to deduct those thicknesses. 

The oldie but goodie measuring convention we used was Feet - Inches - Eighths. Example below 0-2-2 translates to a bow (stem) height of 0 Feet - 2 Inches - 2/8 Inches. 

Once measured, WINNIE found a comfy spot in the PODS container under SMEDLEY.

Among other projects, we are working on The Wooden Sunfish and Sailfish Owners Manual. Lines and Offsets will be included, plus build instructions. Patterns will also be offered.

06 Nov 21:

We took our 1953 Alcort Salfish WINNIE to the beach for a photo shoot for the upcoming Jan/Feb 2022 issue of WoodenBoat. The utility trailer HUEY was used for transport, our first time to use the trailer for a long haul, so we also learned a few things there. Being only 11 feet 7 inches long WINNIE fits fine, and the Dynamic Dolly is narrow enough to fit on the 5x10 bed.

Plenty of room for WINNIE's blades.

What follow are a lot of detail shots that could be of interest to other Sailfish owners. First photo, we like to rig the Sailfish spars high, so that there is plenty of clearance from the boom when tacking. Usually having the gooseneck set back 22 inches is a good start, then tie the halyard such as to kick the back of the boom up a bit.

1953 was the first year for ALcorts new Rudder Releasing Mechanism, it was used until late 1971. The bronze hardware was made at nearby Wilcox and Crittenden. The rectangular spring plate on top sits on the horizontal hinge plate acts as a springboard to release tension and let the vertical hinge plate fly free of the keel latch plate when and obstacle is hit by the rudder. The wing nut and carriage bolt adjusts tension on the spring plate. On the wooden Alcorts, the bolt goes through the transom, while on the fiberglass Alcorts the bolt is aft of the transom. A locking hinge pin holds the upper part of the vertical hinge plate in place, and the small keeper chain is supposed to keep the pin from disappearing. Origanally the keeper was secured to the deck, but we move the anchor spot for the keeper to the rudder so that it dowsn't fall off on the highway somewhere enroute.

The first gen rudder blade is called the Elephant Ear, it is barely suitable for a Sailfish. 

The bronze spar interlocking hardware is hard to find.

Early Alcort masts were solid wood, then in the mid 50s Alcort started making the lower 1/3 of the mast from aluminum tube. It looks too aluminumy so we wrap ours in Pro Gaff tape.

The circular bronze bushing reduces wear on the blade from the tiller straps.

For transport we tape the deck hardware down, hoping to prevent any screws or wing nuts from vibrating loose at 21st Century highway speeds.

Skipper Skippervising. Learning Lesson today was to bring a beach chair for the Skipper.

The original wooden Sailfish daggerboard measures 31 inches and offers marginal performance. We sail with a 39 inch "Spoon Tip" dagger board that increases the odds of successful tacks.

Here is the vertical hinge plate released from the keel latch plate. Wing nut tension adjusts how easy or hard it is for the beveled bottom of the vertical hinge plate to escape from the cup on the latch plate. A common complaint with this mechanism on the wooden Alcorts is that the rudder releases unexpectedly, and the culprits are one of several things, 1) wing nut too loose, 2) vertical hinge plate bevel tip worn, or 3) keel latch plate cup worn. For the fiberglass Alcorts the common culprit is that the carriage bolt wanders port and starboard, and the resulting play lets the hinge pop out. Alcort mostly fixed that issue by adding a nylon tube around the carriage bolt that helped nestle it into the recess that is molded into the fiberglass transom.

The early 1950s Alcort Sailfish had a simple bow handle. In late 1953 a new bow handle design came with a tab that dropped over the bow stem, plus a keel strip that continued from the tab and ran under the forward keel about 16 inches. Some boats came with rub strips, some did not, we cut these from oak and added them, they offer a small advantage for hand grip to stay on the boat and/or reboard after capsize. 

The 31 inch beam and low freeboard make for a wet and wild ride!

There are no halyard blocks on the wooden alcorts, just the cleat. In many vintage Alcort photos we see the excess halyard wrapped around the halyard and mast, we find that tedious and potentially dangerous when it is time to downrig quickly.

The wooden mast is tapered down starting about 2 feet from the top, and has a sheave for the halyard. It looks fantastic.

The early sails were cloth, with sewn on cloth logos. Yar!

It was too cool, choppy, and lee shore today for fun sailing, but we did splash some water on WINNIE's bow. She'll be back to the James River soon.

 22 Mar 22:

Our little Alcort Sailfish WINNIE was spotted in the current issue of WoodenBoat, Number 285, with Skipper at the helm. This year marks 75 years of Alcort's first sailboat design, the little yacht that started it all.

The 11' 7" Sailfish is the boat that you learn to swim on, and during the pandemic we saw a resurgence in popularity as folks dug them out from under their family porches and put them back out to sea again. WINNIE came to us via car top from our friend Alan about 6 years ago, in pieces. 

We repaired some leaks and put her back together. Fair, prime, paint.

She dates to around 1953, and has the nice vintage silk blend sail with a sewn on cloth logo.

Wood, bronze and soft line, doesn't get much better than that.

We restored WINNIE while also restoring BARBASHELA and building ST. JACQUES. Selaed her leaks with thickened epoxy and rolled 2 coats of epoxy onto her bottom and sides.

WINNIE borrowed paint from BARBASHELA, Valspar Ultra 4000 alkyd enamel Swiss Coffee and Whipped Apricot. Skipper of course was the Functional Check Float (FCF) and Sea Trial pilot. Skipper likes WINNIE's simplicity, one stick, one string, and says the Sailfish is just fun. 

I enjoyed WINNIE in "kayak mode." She is also a very stable SUP.

Lateen rig, 65 square feet. Shown here with our trademarked "Geezer Rig," where the sail rig is set high, so the boom clears the noggin.

The Sailfish design evolved into a 13' 7" wooden Sailfish 14, aka Super Sailfish and the wooden Sunfish, 13' 7" with a wider beam, cockpit and 75 sf lateen sail. (1953 Sunfish ZIP and WINNIE shown below)

to be continued...


  1. Are either of these for

    1. Howdy, No WINNIE and ZIP are not for sale, great fun boats, the core of our "Alcort Museum." Sunfish CHIP or Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA might be, but they still need a lot of work. We will let you know. Cheers, Clark and Skipper

  2. Anyone know of a wooden sailfish available on west coast? Email Thanks. Chris.