Alcort Super Sailfish TRACKER

Summer 2013:

We came across our 1950s Alcort Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA in 2013 near Greer, SC after we picked up a 1963 wooden Sunfish hull in Marshville, NC. The previous owner's father had found her in a warehouse up in Auburn NY. We had to cut the grass and dig her out of a shed next to a barn. Here is a link to the road trip when we found her.

Double stack of Alcorts, 1965 Sunfish CHIP on the bottom.

Triple stack, 1963 Alcort Super Sailfish MKII SWEETNESS suspended from the top rack.

She was in rough shape, but most all of the hardware was there. Tattered remnants of a sail

Horizontal hinge pin for the rudder assembly missing, but otherwise she is ready to go once she gets a sail. Based on the 1st Gen "Elephant Ear" rudder and the 2nd Gen aluminum spars, we'd say she is a late 1950s boat or early 60s, when the factory was gearing up fiberglass production. The older style rudder blades stayed with the wooden Sailfish series longer than the fiberglass boats.

Not polite to mention a lady's weight but hers is way off. She should tip the scales at 102. Something is going on with her hull and we will figure that out.

She has some different features, a toe rail and a rub rail. Also a splashguard. Not sure if these could be factory or aftermods. Seems like an unusual spot for a drain but there is mention of that location in Alcort literature. The bow handle is not correct, it should have a tab on the front that goes halfway down the stem. The halyard block is not usually a factory setup either, so there has been some tinkering.

L-R Alcort 1965 Sunfish, Super Sailfish and fiberglass Super Sailfish MKII.

The Super Sailfish has the same size rig as the MKII and the Sunfish. We borrowed the rig from our MKII SWEETNESS and sailed her, she leaked, a lot. I started to remove the bottom to investigate but got distracted by life and 20 other restoration boats, so we put her in storage with CHIP until we could get to her. Fast Forward to 2018.

23 Feb 18:

ZSA ZSA came off the rack today and we moved her onto the finishing dolly. We towed her around front to the carriage house

We continued removing the bottom. We used an old chisel to open the seam and pry the plywood loose. I pried up to keep the outer edge of the oak side as square as possible, the oak is pretty tough and is in good shape.

Someone added foam to the design. They also added extra framing. The foam is not closed cell or factory, so we are removing that. We also will remove the extra framing and use 1/4 inch ply for the new bottom. When we are done, the boat should weigh 20-25 pounds less and be back to factory specs.

27 Feb 18:

We pulled all the bottom nails, we can reuse a few but ordered a pound of #14 silicone bronze annular ring nails from Jamestown Distributors. There were no extra nail holes so that must have been the original bottom. We also removed some keel batten screws and will replace those.

We are pretty sure this was a boat from the factory, as there are no kit numbers on the frames. We think that during a deck repair an owner added some extra bracing and foam when they put her back together. We took out the extra lumber and will add back a better butt block for the plywood deck seam.

22 Mar 18:

We put in an order to Jamestown Distributors for materials to restore ZSA ZSA. We will need ring shank nails, thickened epoxy, fairing compound, primer, paint and rollers. We chose products from the TotalBoat line, which include THIXO, TotalFair, Topside Prime and Wet Edge Fire Red and Blue Glo White. JD always ships cups, gloves and paint sticks with their orders, and we use the boxes as mixing pallets for the fairing compounds and thickened epoxy. Another great deal is that TotalBoat ships free! If you prefer Pettit or Interlux, they sell their complete lines as well.

01 May 18:

So now we have the Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA and wooden Sunfish CHIP together again, ready for bottom work.

We also moved the Catfish SMEDLEY up front, so we can work on all 3, repairing the hulls, sanding and cleaning up gelcoat.

31 Oct 18:

Removed corroded fasteners from deck butt joint.

Reinforced the deck beam.

New butt joint, sealed with TotalBoat THIXO.

01 Nov 18:

Cut out an extra doubler.

Sealed up old fastener holes with TotalBoat THIXO.

Repaired keel batten.

Fastened keel batten with silicone bronze screws.

Sealed bilge seams with THIXO the applied a coat of TotalBoat Wet Edge Blu Glo White to protect plywood.

17 Nov 18:

Hooked up the Eddie English Boat Part Trailer and sourced two 4x8 sheets 1/4 inch A/B marine grade plywood for our local lumber folks.

18 Nov 18:

Cut the A/B marine plywood panels lengthwise.

Set the circular saw to cut just past the depth of the panels for the cleanest cut.

This is how our CHIP's panels were key scarfed, we will try to duplicate that.

Scarf was about 1 1/2 inches long on each panel. Made several passes with the circular saw at 1/16th inch to cut away the bulk of the scarf, then cleaned it up the jack plane, finger plane and rabbet plane.

The plywood is A/B, meaning there is a nicer side with with fewer patches. This B side had several patches. Marine grade plywood has more veneer layers and is glued together with waterproof glue. The A side can have patches also, just fewer of them, they are faired with putty and sanded.

Used the old keel strip to set the spacing on the bottom panels. Tacked the bottom down with ring shank nails and strapped the bow and stern down to pre set some bend.

The Sunfish keel strip was not as deep because that hull has a deeper V. It also overlapped the panel edges. We will make the new keel strip for ZSA ZSA deeper so she will track better, with the overlap to protect the panel edges and help seal up the keel seams.

19 Nov 18:

Cut a new keel batten, it will overlap the bottom panels like the Sunfish keel batten and be tall like the original Sailfish batten. Ripped the height, width and keys on the table saw.

20 Nov 18:

Used a cargo strap to pull the panels tight for fitting. Ran a pencil down the side of the keel strip to get a scribe line, pulled the panel off and planed the high spots down with a Stanley #5 Jack plane.

Did both sides, all 4 panels.

Plywood panel edges are hard to plane, with the ply grain running different directions. My plane iron needed sharpening so I finally pulled out the Work Sharp 3000 power sharpener and tried it out. I have never been a pro at hand sharpening, usually end up butchering a blade, the WS3000 worked great and I had a nice sharp blade to do the plywood edge.

It even cleaned up my cheapo demolition chisel!

Alcort put out wooden kits for the Standard Sailfish, Super Sailfish and Sunfish from the early 1950s until the late 60s, they came with assembly instructions. There are some important measurements throughout the instructions for parts placement and fastener sizes. The instructions and pictures offer great insight into the construction of the boats.

21 Nov 18:

Someone added a splashguard to ZSA ZSA at one point, just screwed it into the 1/4 inch deck. It's not going to keep out much water but Skipper thinks it might make a good thing to hold on to or brace a foot against, so we are keeping it. While the bottom is off we added backer blocks to seat screws into, fastened with TotalBoat thickened epoxy (THIXO). We held it down while the epoxy dried with a can of primer.

Fastened the first bottom panel with TotalBoat thickened epoxy (THIXO). It is best to put epoxy or glue on both work surfaces for best coverage, the product soaks in a bit. We also took a small piece of paint stick and spread the THIXO out a bit. When the panel is sealed, very small amounts of epoxy should squeeze out of the seam, that is enough pressure and enough epoxy for a perfect joint.

Fastened the first bottom panel with TotalBoat thickened epoxy (THIXO), ready for silicone bronze ring shank nails, the wood fibers lock back onto the rings and resist withdrawal. We use a small drill pilot to get a pilot hole for the nail through the plywood.

Made a marking gauge to mark the nailing line and nail spacing, hammered in silicone bronze ring shank nails every 2 inches. The gauge is placed against the side of the boat and is notched because the edge of the plywood panel has not been trimmed yet and overhangs the side a bit. We will trim that off once the panels are all fastened.

Made a marking gauge to mark the nailing line 1/4 inch in from the side, marked the line with a pencil.

Drilled pilot holes for the nails every 2 inches using the gauge as a guide, hammered in silicone bronze ring shank nails, set them just below the surface. Putty to follow.

22 Nov 18:

There is a 2 page set of plans published for the Super Sailfish, it contains lines and offsets for the various components. We are taking lines off of ZSA ZSA to compare to the measurements in the plans before we close up the bottom. There is an inch or so difference up at the bow and back to STATION 26 and 44, after that the measurements are galloping horse close. The "STATION" is the measurement in inches back from the bow, we took ours to the forward face of the frame. The "LONGERON CUTOUT" is for the deck beam and keel beam that run down the middle, bow to stern.

Took measurements for stations, frames heights and widths, also attachment blocks, keel and side planks.
The triangle piece is the stem, it is the fastening point for the keel and deck beams, the sides and the bottom and deck panels. They came precut in the kit.

Center frame height.

Outer frame height. We also found the width inside the side plank at each frame. Note the nailing block on the forward face of the frame, beveled for a snug fit. About halfway back they are placed on the aft side of the frame, easier to bevel based on the side arc.

Note how the frames barely touch the deck panel, and the nailing blocks are on the aft side of the frame.

Deck and keel beam nailing blocks..

Transom and keel beam nailing block.

The Sailfish plans can be found in the Yahoo Sunfish_Sailor Files/Wooden Fish/Sailfish Prints.

23 Nov 18:

Attached the final 3 bottom panels to our Super Sailfish. We used TotalBoat THIXO (thickened epoxy) in the seam, ran a bead around the sides and keel, and another bead on the edge of the panel, that should help ensure complete coverage. One bead down one glueing surface is not enough, as the wood soaks in some of the epoxy and might result in a glue starved joint. When the panel goes on we look for a small bit of epoxy to squeeze out, that tells us the joint is full and there is enough pressure on the panel. It took about one tube of THIXO per panel. I like the THIXO because the consistency is perfect for this application, and it is handy to dispense it from the tube in a nice bead, that minimizes epoxy being smeared everywhere and optimizes keeping epoxy in the joint.

Once the panel was positioned we drilled pilot holes and fastened it with 7/8th inch #14 silicone bronze ring shank nails, supplied by Jamestown Distributors.

Keel strip fastened by drilling a pilot hole and counterbore for a 1 1/2 inch #8 silicone bronze wood screw with a Fuller combination bit. These screws use a Forstner bit. Screws and Fuller bit set also supplied by Jamestown Distributors.

Took a break between panels to see if we could trim the bottom panel with a flush blade on a DeWalt oscillating multitool. We could get close if we were careful. Sanded with 60 grit on a random orbital sander.

Back to drilling pilot holes for the nails, the template we made worked out great on the straight sections of the hull.

When we got to the curves at the bow we found it best to offset the template from the nailing line and use it as reference for the holes, otherwise we couldn't follow the curve.

I was told that only the Great Spirit can make something perfect, so goof ups are welcome on our boats. I made sure there were several, as tribute. And it gives the Usual Visitors something to look for.

Spacing for the keel strip screws was 6 inches, shhhh, don't tell anyone that Alcort recommends 7.

There is a 18 inch keel band that attaches at the bow, it is a continuation of a tab on the bow handle. We need to buy some more quarter oval strip to make on for ZSA ZSA, the one shown belongs to CHIP. While we are here, check out the keel strip or skeg. ZSA ZSA had a deep skeg that fit between the bottom panels, the Sunfish CHIP had a short skeg that covered the panel edges. I asked Skipper for guidance on how to make the new skeg, she said keep it tall and add the overlap, and call it the "Hunter Skeg" after her sailing ancestor LT. Ben Hunter. The Sailfish does not have much draft to aid in lateral resistance, the skeg should help with that and aid in tacking.

All 4 panels epoxied and nailed. Hunter Skeg fastened. 2 boards over the scarf joints to hold light pressure while the epoxy cures.

24 Nov 18:

Stanley #5 jack plane and 60 grit to smooth the scarf joint. I tried a belt sander first but was afraid it would go too far, and I'd have to start over or maybe even have to put on a new panel. So I went and found the jack plane, it worked in small increments and I could feel the panel as I planed it, much more comfortable with that. I credit watching a few of Paul Sellers videos with pulling the hand planes and chisels back out, got motivated to try the power sharpener and get a working edge back on them again. Once the work piece is held securely and the plane is tuned right, it is fun to find the right body position and shave off little bits at a time. I ran the orbital sander over the panel afterwards out of habit, but it really didn't need it in prep for fairing compound and primer.

Starboard side scarf joint was a little proud on a bit, took off one layer of ply. Easy to go slow on that with the plane. That leaves 4 layers of ply, a layer of epoxy and 5 more layers of ply on the panel underneath.

TotalFair epoxy fairing compound from Jamestown Distributors. Part A is the resin and Part B is the hardener, mix equal amounts til it turns green.

Rub rail needs some attention, luckily just this 2 foot section.

26 Nov 18:

Picked up the sheet, halyard, bridle and bow line from West Marine, New England Sta-Set.

Trimmed the bottom panel edge with a flush cut metal blade on a DeWalt multi oscillating tool, used the metal blade because I needed the flush cut. Trimmed it as close as I dared then finished with a Stanley #5 jack plane and light passes with a Black and Decker belt sander. Sanded the fairing compound with 60 grit on a DeWalt random orbital sander

The rub strip is rotten in one spot so we will scarf in a new strip. We started by cutting out the bad part, eyeballed a 45 degree cut and made it with the oscillating tool. The bow is to the left, so we angled the forward end of the scarf so it would overlap aft....

...and angled the aft scarf so the rub strip will overlay it.


The wooden Sailfish and Sunfish have a stainless rub strip that wraps from the tab on the bow handle, around the stem and aft 18 inches. Speaking of bow handle, it is different than the fiberglass boats that do not have the tab, or the keel strip. We used the rub strip off of our wooden Sunfish CHIP as a guide, ZSA ZSA's was missing so we need to order a new piece of 1/2 inch, half oval strip. To fit the metal rub strip with used a 3/4 inch long handle hand chisel to bevel down the wooden keel strip, and cleaned that up with the jack plane.

Sanded with 60 grit and ready for primer.

We applied TotalBoat Topside Primer, rolled the bottom with a Mighty Mini Roller kit and brushed the sides with a Redtree Fooler chip brush.

27 Nov 18:

First coat of topside polyurethane, TotalBoat WetEdge, rolled and tipped.

Used the old rub strip to set the first cut on the table saw.

Cut new rub strip to thickness.

Cut a 45 degree scarf on the strip.

Fit first end of the rub strip.

Marked aft cut.

Used the Shinto rasp to trim the rub strip.

The Shinto rasp has fine teeth on one side and coarse teeth on the other.

Ready to attach.

Countersinks and pilot bits for wood screws.

Drilled holes for #8 silicone bronze wood screws.

New rub strip section.

28 Nov 18:

Time to trim the new keel on the Super Sailfish and fit the latch plate, the bronze plate for the rudder assembly that is on the keel. The important measurement is the distance from the deck plate to the keel plate, we took that off of our wooden Sunfish, which uses the same assembly and has the same size transom.

Brought the measurement over to the SUper Sailfish transom and marked the keel strip.

Marked how far up the keel strip to cut, and how deep.

Scribed the cut with a Japanese pull saw then cut with a multi oscillating tool. Smoothed the cut and trimmed to final shape with a 1 inch long handle chisel. The latch plate is secured at the forward end with a #8 silicone bronze screw that goes through the keel strip and into the internal keel longeron. The aft part of the latch plate is secured with a carriage bolt that goes through the latch plate, up through the transom and then through the spring plate on the deck. A wing nut tops off the carriage bolt.

Well the boat is upside down but you get the idea. Wing nut tightens or loosens to control pressure on the latch plate, if an obstruction is hit the vertical plate of the rudder pops out of the latch plate because downward pressure is put on the spring plate. Tightening the wing nut tightens the latch plate and makes it harder for the vertical plate to pop out.

29 Nov 18:

Lots of little jobs today, rigging for Float Test and Sea Trials. Takes time to get all the bits in the right spot. Started off by needing to move the boat from the sawhorses down to the Dynamic Dolly. Flying ZSA ZSA using Skipper's small boat hoist, which is made from Sunfish eyestraps, sheets, halyard blocks and halyard cleats.

One of these spars is not like the other. They should be around 13' 9", trimmable down to 13' 8 inchish. Not sure why the boom was so long, not the first time we've seen it.

Much better, trimmed it with a metal blade on a reciprocating saw. Notice how the vintage spars have a different outhaul and cap arrangement, eyebolts vs the integrated plastic tabs on the outhaul caps

Here's another common issue of corrosion at the interlocking eyebolts, solution is to trim 1/2 inch off. We removed the rusted eyebolts by twisting off the stop nut with vise grips and tapping the bolt out with a hammer, then popped the old boom caps off

We used a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade, Kobalt cordless was the tool choice today. It came as part of a set with the drill, impact drill and flashlight. We have been happy with the set.

Drilled holes for the new spar interlocking eyebolts through the clean spar and spar caps with a Milwaukee 3/16th inch titanium bit. We also added a new style outhaul cap on the bottom spar with the tab pointing down. Why you ask? Some of you folks know why. That plastic tab will act as bumper and prevent the eyebolt from gouging a half moon arc on the front deck.

Time to put the sail on the spars, we like to bend it on the vintage Alcort way. 50 feet of 1/8th inch nylon line by New England Rope is plenty to bend the sail onto the spars. We cut two outhauls off the end, about 2 feet each is plenty. Attach the tack of the sail with an S hook. Tie the outhauls at the head and clew. Then find the middle of the remaining line and run a piece out each spar to the outhauls.

We attach the sail with a marlin hitch, leaving enough slack so the seam of the sail can stand up. Finish off the line at the outhaul with a couple of half hitches.

Time for a halyard. We use 25 feet of 3/16th inch New England Rope Sta-Set. We have the length marked out on the deck. 25 feet works for the sheet as well.

Woo! Check out that classic 5 panel Ratsey and Lapthorne sail, soft like budda. And just drink in the beauty and simplicity of a vintage Alcort.

This hull has a few extra options, toe rails and a splashguard. They are well done so we don't know if Alcort added them at the factory as a trial or one of the owners added them.

Bow handle, rub rail and toe rail detail. We ordered the half oval stainless keel strip that starts under the bow handle tab, wraps under the stem and runs down the keel 18 inches.

Most Sailfish have just a halyard cleat on the side of the mast collar, we will probably change ZSA ZSA back to that configuration.

How we start the marlin hitch, loop it around the interlocking eyebolts then put a hitch on the tack grommet, one for the gaff and one for the boom.

Alcort Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA.

ZSA ZSA is being upgraded with a Barrington style daggerboard, it measures 39 inches vs the factory 31 inch board. Tacks will be much improved and leeway reduced. We still need to repair some parts of the deck, sand, fair, prime and paint.

Vintage rudder assembly, check out that tiller. And look at the half moon scatch from the tiller extension bolt, ZSA ZSA was sailed a lot at one point.

New drain plug and bridle.The original drain plug was bronze and they are hard to seal, someone changed it to a newer style plug, which was worn. We'll go with this style for now, sealed in with epoxy.

Ready for Sea Trials. Tomorrow!

To roll up the sail, make sure it is not is not pinched between the spars, pull it away from the mast, find the middle and start loosely rolling it.

Look how soft this old sail is, a new sail will need to be rolled looser.

Roll the sail up to the spars and throw a loose sail tie around it.

This is a good way to secure the sail while refreshments are being had. The rudder can be popped up and held down by the spars so it does not drag while launching or retrieving. We also take a bit of the sheet sometimes and tie the spars to the bridle.

Alcort Museum. (L-R) 1953 wooden Sunfish ZIP, number 13 of the first 20 pre production boats built, snoozing under a boat cover. 1950s Alcort Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA awaiting Sea Trials. 1963 wooden Sunfish CHIP patiently waiting for a new bottom. 1950s Standard Sailfish WINNIE says "Im ready!" These boats represent the first 3 styles of boats that Alcort built, beginning in 1949. In 1960 the fiberglass versions of the Sunfish and Super Sailfish began hitting the high seas.

30 Nov 18:

The bottom on ZSA ZSA is finished, so it was time for a float test. ANd since we were going to do a float test, why not rig for sail? We launched ZSA ZSA from the dolly and I walked her out a bit to clear the dock, Skipper on the helm. A light push and she was underway, for the first time in at least 5 years and many more before that.

There was only a wisp of wind but that is where these boats have a great time.

Barely enough wind to disturb the water but enough for Sea Trials.

Skipper on her high speed pass. She was working hard to maneuver the boat in about 30 inches of water, I had waded out to get pictures, 500 feet off shore and still only waist deep. WE used a longer daggerboard today to improve tacking, more about that in another post. Once she got ZSA ZSA off the shoal she didn't have to hold the daggerboard up with her feet :)

Another pass over the shoal, Skipper and ZSA ZSA were good sports posing for the paparazzi.

Out to play for a bit, tacks and gybes went beautifully. The boat sat great in the water, beautiful lines. Alcort tucked the bow up a little bit from the original design, that helped prevent submarining that was common on the first model.

One more pass for the photog. Skipper has found that on the Super Sailfish that it is easier to lay back to tack versus bending forward, better balance on the boat.

My turn, I used our mini Greenland paddle to get clear of the treeline wind shadow, it worked great. We wanted a small paddle that would fit in a Sunfish cockpit with the Greenland style blade, this works nice and takes up very little room, easy to use one handed because the blade is not too big.

The paddle tucks out of the way nicely on the Super Sailfish, I think we'd need a lanyard on windier days :)

A few quick strokes with the paddle to get through a lazy tack.

Light wind day, fun to just put the tiller over and do donuts. Back to the beach, Sea Trials successful.

ZSA ZSA will head back to the shop to work on the deck fit and finish now, we had a few tiny leaks in the deck seam, daggerboard trunk and mast step. No leaks on the bottom seam or keel! The sail set beautifully and we were very happy with how she handled with her new skeg, in light winds and shoal water she didn't really need the daggerboard. Rudder stayed in place and felt very secure, the tiller straps could be straightened a bit. Overall an enormously successful and fun time!

30 Nov 18:

Need to work on the deck of the Super Sailfish so that generated a round of boat TETRIS. The first move was to get CHIP off of the Sunfish finishing dolly using Skipper's boat hoist.

The dolly is modeled after the finishing dolly used by LASER Performance, when they used to be in Portsmouth, RI. It has articulating bunks so the boats can be supported hull down or deck down.

(Image credit: LASER Performance)

We moved CHIP onto the sawhorse dolly that ZSA ZSA had vacated.

Next we hoisted ZSA ZSA off of the Dynamic Dolly.

Then she went onto the finishing dolly.

And back onto the Alcort Working Museum. ZIP resumed duties holding down the Dynamic Dolly. WINNIE slept through the whole evolution.

04 Dec 18:

We did a leak test on ZSA ZSA last week and were happy to see that the new bottom and keel did not leak. The leak test was conducted by spraying the hull with a Dawn liquid soap and water mix, then blowing air into the hull with low pressure, low volume air from our Porter Cable into the stern drain plug opening. We were not surprised to see some leaks around the deck seam, daggerboard trunk and mast step.

Daggerboard trunk leaks are primarily where the trunk is attached to the deck and keel longerons, most likely the adhesive has dried out over the last 60 years.

Deck seam leaked, pretty much all the way around.

Mast step bubblerama.

We removed the rub rail and toe rail so we could get to the seam and seal it up, along with other fastener holes. We tried to take the fasteners out with a screwdriver and save the rails for reuse, but the heads were too corroded. We next tried to pry the trim off gently and pull the fasteners through the trim, but the trim was too brittle and snapped. We also discovered several areas of rot in the trim, so it will be used to size new trim and we will cut that from cypress.

In other news, we received the have oval stainless steel trim to be used on the stem and forward keel strip, purchased from Jamestown Distributors. We bought a 6 foot piece, we will need 18 inches for ZSA ZSA. Guess we'll need to build more boats!

And we attached the rudder keeper chain to the rudder. We prefer it staying with the rudder versus being attached to the hull, especially for long road trips.

09 Dec 18:

Bought some pine window trim at Lowes to be used as toe rails and rub rails. I was going to drive way out to the mill for a piece of cypress and then spend the rest of the day trying to rip a really long piece, Skipper suggested checking the pre made trim at Lowes. We found pieces that are very close to what came off, our adaptation will have the toe rail lap over the rub rail, all sealed up with epoxy. These rails will cover the deck edge seam and protect it, an improvement on the previous design that left the seam exposed.

The toe rails will need to take some edge bend up at the bow, so we are using the trailer and 2 days of rain to pre bend them.

12 Dec 18:

Worked on ZSA ZSA's deck, but first a PSA. Here is the remnant of a keeper chain for the $50 horizontal hinge pin of the rudder assembly. They don't keep very well, we suggest attaching the keeper to the rudder vs the deck.

We dredged out the seam a bit with a half moon blade on a DeWALT multi oscillating tool.

There MIGHT have been a leak here, the deck panel was popped loose at the bow. We used our saw to clean out some old adhesive.

New shop stool CARMEN put to work with WALDO.

Busted the mast step loose, someone had attached it with two lag bolts, normally takes 4 #12 bronze screws. It's off now, and we can see that the deck was replaced at one point, probably how the foam blocks got inside back when.

Removed the corroded coaming fasteners.

Used a syringe to inject TotalBoat THIXO thickened epoxy into the deckedge seam. It was easier on my hand to dispense the THIXO and mix it by hand vs using the mixing tip, then trowel it into the syringe. We also filled old fastener holes.

Put a sealer coat of TotalBoat Halcyon Amber Varnish on the mast step.

Made a pattern of the plank with parchment paper.

Sanded and sanded and sanded. 40 grit on the DeWALT random orbit sander and Black and Decker belt sander, lots of old paint to get gone. Smoother the scarf.

Primary goal was to get the surface smooth and put some tooth on the old paint so it will hold primer.

Started putting some bend in the toe rail. Spoiler Alert! It didn't work.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for Trailer Tetris. CYANE's trailer back to the trailer park, SMEDLEY to the driveway.

13 Dec 18:

Dry fit the rub rail, trimmed the lower edge up a bit per Culler style.

Cut the toe rail down to 3/4 inches wide so it would take a bend. It will cover the top of the rub rail and overlap the deck. Both the rub rail and toe rail be fastened with THIXO and will protect the deck seam. Drilled countersink and pilot hole with combination Fuller bit, dry fit with #6 silicone bronze wood screws.

14 Dec 18:

Christmas Train!

Ripped the trim down to 3/4 inches wide to make the toe rail. It will cover the rub rail and deck seam.

Attached the rub rail first, then fit the toe rail. Left a few drain slots on the stern. Trimmed to length with the Japanese pull saw. Shaped with the Shinto rasp and 220 grit sandpaper. Temp fastened with small screws.

Eased the rails up a bit on the stern and bow per Culler.

Fit the bow handle.

15 Dec 18:

Released the rails, refastened the toe rail and rub rail with thickened epoxy. Screws to hold them to shape until epoxy dries. The thicker epoxy fills gaps and ensures a better bond between pieces. This product is good for use below the waterline, where ZSA ZSA's rail will spend a lot of time, it can be drilled, shaped, sanded and painted. It is also flexible, not as rigid as straight epoxy, so it will move with the wood a bit. We chose Jamestown Distributors TotalBoat THIXO because it mixes in the mixing tube, no guessing on how much filler to add to straight epoxy. It is also faster to mix up and use, but the cost is more per drop than resin/hardener/filler. Pettit makes FLEXPOXY, we used it a lot and like it, but it runs several dollar more per tube.

Epoxy for the deck edge seam, rub rail and toe rail.

As the pieces were pulled together with screws we looked for epoxy to barely squeeze out, which indicates that the joint is full. That is all the pressure that epoxy needs to bond, it does not need high pressure like glue, in fact too much pressure can squeeze the epoxy out of the joint. After the piece is attached we use a paint stick to remove larger bits of squeeze out, then slide a gloved finger along the perpendicular seam to make a curved fillet. This fillet helps shed water away from the joint. Be careful running rags or paper towels along seams as that can dredge the epoxy out of the seam. Another tip is to check the seam after it dries, sometimes the wood soaks the epoxy into the joint and it might be desired to apply another small bead of product. Here is a seam after we radiused the joint.

Coated the inside of the mast trunk and daggerboard trunk with epoxy.

3 tubes of THIXO for the seam, mast step and daggerboard trunk.

Alcort wooden collection, (L-R) 1950s Super Sailfish, 1965 Sunfish, 1950s Standard Sailfish.

20 Dec 18:

Removed the screws used to hold the trim on place while the epoxy dried. Mixed up some TotalBoat TotalFair to fill the screw holes.

The resin and hardener mix together to make a green compound. For today's application we used a syringe to inject the compound deep into the screw hole, then a spreader to lightly tip off the excess. We leave a little extra because the compound tends to suck into the hole as it dries and leave a dimple, necessitating a second application. The compound is easy to sand and dries fast, around 4 hours.

We have a little sanding to do, but while the fairing compound dried we applied the first coat of TotalBoat Topside Primer. We poured half of the primer out so we could mix up the solids that collect on the bottom of the can, then mixed it all back together. The primer was also strained, then applied with a Mighty Mini roller that came in an inexpensive kit from Jamestown Distributors

22 Dec 18:

Rolled ZSA ZSA outside on the finishing dolly for some sanding.

Sanded fairing compound with 40 grit then 120 grit on a DeWALT random orbital sander, then lightly sanded the first coat of primer with 120 grit. This photo is before sanding.

Applied second coat of TotalBoat Topside Primer with a Mighty Mini roller.

All tucked in at the Alcort Museum!

23 Dec 18:

Lightly hand sanded the primer with 220 grit. Taped the lines for the center stripe, middle first, then the borders, then pulled the middle piece up.

Drew the arc from the center stripe out to the deck edge. Traced it onto wax paper and flipped paper over to check mirror image on starboard side.

Brushed on some TotalBoat WetEdge Fire Red.

24 Dec 18

Brushed 2nd coat of TotalBoat WetEdge Fire Red and first coat of TotalBoat WetEdge BluGlo White. Minwax Mahogany Red on the handrails.

25 Dec 18:

The stockings were raided, dinner finished and still a few hours left before sunset, so we rolled ZSA ZSA out to Skipper's boat hoist and flipped her.

Drew the arcs for the graphics on each corner of the hull. Extremely technical, only a few folks are qualified to do this step.

Applied a coat of TotalBoat WetEdge Fire Red with a 2 inch angled sash brush from Lowes. Skipper likes the short handle of the sash, it is lighter and easier to maneuver in tight spots. Taped along the seam with blue tape and free handed the arc.

I was thinking that the HEUER GARAGE sign should really be JACK'S BOATYARD, but he was not responsible for the acquisition of ZSA ZSA, that responsibility rests on Clark and Skipper. Jack was only responsible for ONKAHYE, CYANE, WAVE, MADISON, PHOENIX, SCOUT and LEWIS. SUGAR 2 to some extent.

First coat of TotalBoat Halcyon Amber Gloss on the blades and mast collar.

Merry Christmas!

29 Dec 18:

Trimmed the toe rail a bit to fit for the bow handle. The wooden Alcort bow handles have a tab that wraps the bow, and another strip attaches below and wraps the keel.

Keel strip wraps back about 16 inches.

Attached mast collar with #8 silicone bronze screws, drilled a pilot hole that matched the screw shank diameter and a countersink for the head of the screw. Attached the halyard cleat with the vintage Alcort bronze screws.

Drilled pilot holes and attached eyestraps with vintage Alcort bronze screws.

We like line bridles, the original boat would have had a 2 loop or 3 loop plastic coated wire bridle. 2 loop bridles are the standard today on new boats.

Attached the bow line and splashguard. Splashguard functions more as a handhold or foot rest.

03 Jan 19:

Prepositioned the Alcort Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA out to the Sunfish Shack for Sea Trials, borrowed Sunfish PHOENIX's dolly. Skipper suggested rigging another hoist using Sunfish eyestraps, sheet, halyard block and halyard cleats. ZSA ZSA will find a permanent spot in the collection after Sea Trials.

1965 Alcort Sunfish CHIP moved from the temporary dolly onto the Finishing Dolly.

07 Feb 19:

Sea Trials for ZSA ZSA, 100 percent success! Full report this weekend.

27 Feb 19:

A few details from Alcort plans for a Super Sailfish. The bow changed a bit in the 50s and tucks up a bit more to prevent submarining. ZSA ZSA has the newer style bow and we have the measurements now.

The 2 page plans are available in the files of the Yahoo Sunfish_Sailor Group, filed as Sailfish Prints.

27 Feb 19:

A few more shots from Sea Trials for our Alcort Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA.

Sunfish Shack is full.

12 Apr 19:

During the restoration of ZSA ZSA we found styrofoam inside and some extra framing, we removed that to bring her weight down a bit. Turns out we dropped 8 pounds down to 134! Factory kit weight advertises 102 pounds for marine grade plywood and Phillipine mahogany, that would be for a dry boat. We left some of the added framing inside under the seating area and added a toe rail and rub rail. Plus primer and paint. We also discovered that the deck had been replaced, that plywood seemed to be fir and a little thicker. Regardless of a few extra pounds, she sails great!

Regardless of a few extra pounds, she sails great!

16 Jul 19:

Relaunch a boat, get a free hat! Number 4 Launch/Relaunch for us, ST. JACQUES, WINNIE, ZIP and now ZSA ZSA. One more and Skipper will be a hat Ace!

23 Jul 19:

We had our 1950s Alcort wooden Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA out for a photo shoot in the morning and then pulled out our 1963 Alcort wooden Sunfish CHIP to check the rigging. So while they were exchanging notes we took some pictures.

Here's the first time they meat, 2013 near Spartanburg, NC.

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.

04 Jul 20:

Name change to TRACKER.

04 Jul 20:

Skipper and I were having a discussin about capsizing the Sailfish and being able to get back on, part of our exercise program objectives. There is some trickery and finesse involved to get back on without using a lot of muscle. So we decided to take ZSA ZSA out and play capsize for a while. We also decided to change ZSA ZSA's name, it never really fit her.

I was doing good getting the boat ready, just need to pick it up a notch.

Skipper went out first on ZSA ZSA to sail her backwards and wash the old name off of the transom.

We splashed water on the bow and christened the boat TRACKER, named after Capn Jack's favorite Navy airplane, the Grumman S-2F Tracker.

Found out a few things while messing about off and on boats, Learning Lessons for Sailfish Capsize recovery. I capsized TRACKER in shallow water by grabbing the halyard while I was in the water and slowly pulling the boat over. Made sure the sheet was clear, Skipper suggests throwing the sheet over to the recovery side so you have it in hand as needed. Made sure the daggerboard was in and swam up to the bow to pull her into the wind. Had limited success with turning her but the wind was light. Once she started righting I could grab the close handrail.

Tried to swim her into the wind again.


Midships boarding was no go for me, she rolled back over. Someone more fit may be able to hook a foot and scamble back on quick.

Skipper's next suggestion, grab the mast and pull aboard that way. That worked.

Feet and legs make good sea anchors if you need to slow things down a bit.

This is a good sailing spot for me, at 200 pounds of movable ballast, bow up, stern slightly depressed.

Another favorite sailing position. Sailfish are fun to lounge on and ghost around, they need very little wind.

Good time to practice sculling.

I got back onboard twice back by the stern, I was surprised how well she floated.

I rested a few minutes and reboarded from the stern one more time, that time I pushed the tiller out of the way for a better grip on the rubrail.

Here is another option, I could sail back to shore hanging on to the stern. I read an article where a sailor had done that who had a medical event while attempting to reboard his dinghy, held on to the rudder and sheet and got back to shore safely. It works and it is fun.

04 Jul 20:

In 1951 Alcort added a Dri-deck coaming and Barfair processed colored sails to the Standard Sailfish 12 lineup and called it the Sailfish Deluxe 12. A new 14 foot Sailfish was added, the Sailfish 14, and it also had a Sailfish Deluxe 14 model. There were three models factory built plus kits for the Sailfish 12 and the Sailfish 14. The names changed again around 1960 when the fiberglass model was introduced. The coaming was dropped and the 3 models offered were the wooden Standard Sailfish (11' 7"), the wooden Super Sailfish (13' 7") and the fiberglass Super Sailfish MK II.

Our Sailfish Deluxe 14, her new name is TRACKER.

Dri-deck coaming and toe rail.

Hardware refinement, fancy shiny bow handle from Wilcox and Crittenden that wraps the stem. Previous handles were similar to current handles and had a satin finish.

A chrome quarter round keel strip starts underneath the handle and continues underneath for 16 inches. Sorry that those screws have unclocked themselves, we have found that the wood backs them off a bit.

Rub rail makes a nice hand hold when boarding after capsize, we found it easier to board at the stern because we could reach across and and grab the rail. Too far to reach across amidships plus you have to hoist yourself over a handrail.

The Barfair process dyed the sails to different colors, old advertisements list the sail choice colors as Red, White, Blue and Yellow that went with color matched hulls. It also added water repellency and mildew proofing.

This is how Alcort shows the excess halyard being secured. That is a good plan to keep it form floating around with other lines after a capsize.

 16 Aug 21:

Alcort built the wooden Sailfish 14 Deluxe in the 1950s, 13' 9" long, to sell along with Super Sailfish that were no Deluxe and also the 11' 9" Sailfish, called the Sailfish 12 at the time . We had stored ours outside, under a Sunbrella cover for the last month or so, and found that rain had seeped into the hull. Water left inside the wooden Alcorts is what prevented them from becoming old, so we flipped our boat and drained about a cup of water out of the hull. We are not sure how the water got in, most likely it seeped in over time through a seam and once that area got wet it swelled and sealed, so only a little water got inside.

Through the years the drain plugs showed up in various spots, this boat had a plug on the stern and one on the forward side plank. The drain plug was originally bronze but at some point in this boat's life someone changed the stern plug over to a nylon style. Rather than fill in the enlarged hole we chose to just put in a new nylon plug. We are not fans of drain plugs that close to the water, but the water has to have a path to get out somewhere, and who knows, maybe it got in that way.

We gave TRACKER a bath and then I held up the bow while Skipper put some lumber and chocks under the forward section, to give the water more incentive to drain towards the stern. What water didn't drain out I sucked out with a Porter Cable cordless wet/dry vac, a handy piece of gear to have around.

 17 Aug 21:

After draining TRAKER's bilge, Skipper towed the work dolly around to the Sunfish SHack. But first the John Deere E130 had a chat with an excavator, which was visiting the Mid Atlantic Station to extend our driveway.

Skipper never moved anything heavy in the theater without a block and tackle, so she designed a Sunfish/Sailfish hoist for us to use, utilizing nice bronze Alcort hardware and vintage Sunfish sheets. One end of the sheet snap shackles to a repurposed bridle eyestrap.

The sheet runs under the boat and then through a halyard block.

One end of the boat is lifted and the sheet gets tied off to a halyard cleat.

Voila! We have also found that it is easy to turn the boats over while they are in the hoist, a great side benefit.

Work dolly and caboat strongback departing the area.

to be continued...


  1. Absolutely awesome! Thank you for all those details.

  2. Hi! What is the thickness of the sides of the super sailfish? I want to build one...but I’m finding it hard to figure out the thickness of those sides from the Alcort plans.