1977 AMF Alcort Sunfish Sailboat Restoration

sunfish sailboat inside u-haul

I purchased an old (1977 manufacture date) AMF Alcort Sunfish 14 foot sailing dinghy.   It was mostly complete and almost “ready-to-sail”, except for the broken auto-bailer, and cracked rudder, but the price was right.

Since I had to repair the crack in the rudder, I decided to go overboard and completely restore the entire rudder and tiller assembly. And once the rudder looked nice, I had left-over varnish and decided to go ahead and re-surface the daggerboard as well.

I also added a ratcheting mainsheet block, replaced all of the lines and purchased some necessary accessories (deck cover, beach dolly).
Sailboat in Lake

After the first sail I drained all of the water out of the hull (which MIGHT have already been in there…..maybe….) and purchased a better drain plug and rigged up a solar powered fan to dry things out. If I find water inside after the second sail, I’ll probably be doing some fiberglass hull repair.

You can see all of the details by watching the (multiple!) videos in this YouTube playlist:


I’ve found that the Better Boat Mini-Paddle fits perfectly into the rear cubbyhole on my 1977 boat.


Banshee sailboat mast/boom storage and sun/rain cover mount


I cut some plywood to fit the front and back of the Banshee sailboat with notches to hold the two part mast and boom in a triangular shape, so that they would support a rain/sun cover to allow it to shed water.   Even though the wood would be protected under the cover, I gave it a good coat of exterior paint. I also used 100% silicon along the bottom in an effort to keep it from sticking to the boat (which will matter more once I re-paint the boat….which is in the long term planing horizon now that it’s somewhat protected from the elements).

The   boat cover that I bought was the shortest available (14-16′) , and it almost fits (it hangs down a little on the back) and so far it appears to be of a good quality given the $50 price point: MSC Heavy Duty 300D Marine Grade Polyester Canvas Trailerable Waterproof Boat Cover, Pacific Blue,Fits V-Hull,Tri-Hull, Runabout Boat Cover,Full Size Boat Cover Purchased From Amazon.   I’m using the “A” model — Length:14″²-16″² Beam width: up to 68″³ (Fit V-hull runabout boats with beam width to 68″)

Cover longevity update: 22 months in, the cover has turned from a blue to a gray where exposed to the sun. It has a few small rips where it caught protruding hardware on the masts before I learned to put gaffers tape over them (and cover the end of the masts with spraypaint can lids), but I expect to be able to get 2-3 seasons out of this cover.

Here are some photos of the plywood:

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Banshee sailboat rudder & tiller rigging

This is my new (to me) Banshee sailing dinghy. She is 13 feet overall, and cat rigged, which means she only has a single sail behind the main mast, with no head sail. This rudder and tiller doesn’t look exactly like that shown in photos online of other Banshee boats, so it may be a later retrofit.

This is how I rigged up the rudder and tiller. All of the attachment points were already there when I got the boat, but I added two bungee cords and an up-haul line. I have no idea if this is the “official” method, but it seems to work for me.

First, I wrapped a 24″ bungee around the tiller and secured it to this forward eye strap with a chain link and then attached it to these pre-existing eye straps on the inside of the transom. This gives an automatic “return to center” action for the rudder.

I used a 42″ yellow bungee cord wrapped in the middle around an existing bolt
in the front of the rudder to pull and keep the rudder down, while at the
same time, allowing it to rotate backwards if ran aground.

I attach the ends to this front eye strap when under way, or can move them
to this rear eye strap to make the rudder easier to lift.

I used a 1/8″ line tied to an existing hole in the back and of the rudder and routed around the tiller to a bottom mounted jam cleat to raise the rudder. It’s certainly possible that this jam cleat is really intended for a down-haul line, and not an up-haul line, as it’s on the bottom of the tiller.

So, that’s what I’ve done, it works for me, but feel free to leave a comment if I’ve completely messed things up.