• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Purchase advice - Puffer, Sunfish or other?

Bkmama

.
May 26, 2020
6
AMF Sunfish Accabonac Harbor
Hope everyone is well during these crazy times. I’m looking for an activity I can do with my 9 year old this summer and am thrilled by the idea of teaching him how to sail. He’s been on bigger boats a little, but not a day sailer. I’d like to buy something used I can strap on my car, so under 120lbs, 4’W, 14’L. I’m seeing Sunfish, a Dyer Dhow Midget, Puffer, sailfish, Laser & a Zuma all listed for under $1k, which is a lot less than cancelled summer camp. As stand-in counselor and bunk mates, I’m thinking that although the Zuma or Laser will be way more fun to sail, the Dyer & Puffer can maybe hold an extra non-sailor parent and double as a fishing boat for variety. But, I’m concerned that I might be too out of shape and my son too small to right one of those, but I know I’ll have no problem with a tipped sunfish or a laser. If anyone has advice on our purchase decision, I’m sure I haven’t thought it all through and would love to benefit from your expertise.
 
Jun 2, 2004
2,946
Hunter 23.5 Fort Walton Yacht Club, Florida
Can't go wrong with a Sunfish. Lasers are great too but tippy for a novice.
 

Bkmama

.
May 26, 2020
6
AMF Sunfish Accabonac Harbor
Any thoughts on the Minifish? One just popped up for $600. Together we're under 220lbs, but I suppose there's not enough room to teach him on the minifish?
 
Jan 1, 2006
4,748
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
The last time I tried to saii a sailfish I couldn't stay on it. While ducking the boom on tacks I would just slide right off it. And it was heavy. Not really "Car top." Sunfish at least has the well you can get your ankles to hold onto. But still the deck sweeper boom. I donated my sailfish to a local sailing club. Laser is a real boat. We had a regatta here a few months ago with around 80 entrants who were "Masters.' All were adults and not all in great shape. So that's a bow you can sail basically for life. But it's a boat for a single sailor. Dyer Dhows are a good platform too. They are easily handled. But, it's a little small for two and a bit too heavy to use as a tender. Puffer looks pretty good but I can't recall ever seeing one on the water. I don't know the minifish. JY 14 are fun to sail and can work for two people but I don't think you could call them "Car top." There must be a million Vanguard 420's around. They're good for two people, fun to sail - and even have a spinnaker. In areas with active fleets you can probably find rentals. And don't forget Optimists. They're really much more boat than they look like. You can put air floatation in them so they are real safe. You could probably put it on a car top but most move them with trailers - like eight at a time. There's a reason juniors programs use them.
 
Jul 7, 2004
6,644
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
If you think you are too out of shape to right a small boat, then mounting and dismounting one from a car top will be a big PITA. Factor in a trailer or sailing will be a chore. They are easy to pull.
 

Bkmama

.
May 26, 2020
6
AMF Sunfish Accabonac Harbor
I sailed a Laser last summer with no problem & I plan to drop the boat on a harbor front lawn and leave it there for the summer. I hadn’t thought about a Sunfish being more uncomfortable than a Laser.
 
Sep 22, 2018
1,342
Hunter 216 Kingston
Time with your kid, outside, providing him an opportunity to learn a new sport. Good on you!!

My 2 cents FWIW. From my experience 9 yr old kids learn things quickly, then want independence to do it themselves.

Will you feel comfortable standing on the shore watching them on their first solos?

Make part of your “teaching” having the child right the boat themselves.

If you don’t see yourself being comfortable with the solo steps perhaps you should also consider having a second boat available.

The alternative is a small trailerable boat that you both sail for a few years.
 

Bkmama

.
May 26, 2020
6
AMF Sunfish Accabonac Harbor
Thank you. This is great advice and yes, I'll be thrilled to stand on shore and watch my son sail away for awhile! These are very strange times, especially if you want to visit the grandparents at some point. Remote schooling for us has meant only seeing friends on screens. I can only play catch so much... sailing is a wonderfully independent sport. As for instruction, how do you teach on shore? I learned by the watch one, do one method. First on a Hobie 16 from my Dad and then FJs from instructors. I would have had trouble righting either of those on my own as a novice 9 year old, especially in one that might have some water weight. I looked up some sailing camp videos and saw instructors on motor boats lifting the top of a Dyer Dhow mast. Maybe I could assist on a kayak or SUP? I was hoping to avoid putting a hitch on our leased car, but this chorus is convincing me it's the right way to go.
 
  • Like
Likes: Hunter216
Sep 22, 2018
1,342
Hunter 216 Kingston
I hadn't noticed that you joined only yesterday. Belated Welcome to SBO :)

Maybe you don’t need a hitch. Rent a truck and drop off your sailboat and “assist vessel” on the lawn you mention and your done.

I would suggest that a kayak would have a lot more value in that role than a SUP. Kayak has bungie cords to hold your paddle while you use two hands to assist. SUP doesn’t. SUP isn’t very stable unless it’s moving through the water, kayaks are better at that.

Roto mold kayak - almost indestructible and relatively inexpensive.

Of course you could also go the route of a small zodiac type inflatable with an outboard and really have it covered :)
 
Last edited:

Bkmama

.
May 26, 2020
6
AMF Sunfish Accabonac Harbor
Thank you! We have a kayak, so I'm hoping we'll be all set. I'll probably go for a classic sunfish and hope to post a pic in July. You all have been very helpful.
 
  • Like
Likes: Hunter216
Nov 8, 2007
1,286
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
I’ve raced both the Sunfish and the Laser, and sailed both to teach kids/grandkids. I’d go for the Sunfish in a minute.
 
Sep 24, 2018
891
O'Day 25 Chicago
The local park district had a sail camp when I was a kid. They had Zumas, Sunfish, Puffer, Barnett 1400 and 420's. From what I vaguely remember the Zumas were rather tippy. Sunfish was very easy to sail but I got bored of them very quickly because there was no challenge. They had more 1400's than any other boat. They're well built and easy to sail. I got bored of those well but not as quickly. The Puffer was a good boat for instructing because they held a small group of kids. It also had a jib. My favorite was the 420. It was big, fast and I never got bored. I put that poor boat through hell... Capsized more times than I can remember, beached it nearly everyday, loaded it up with five teenagers, sunk it, sailed it while only the bow was above water, heck I even sailed it while I was in the water holding onto the transom. I still dream of buying another one but I have way too many toys that require maintenance

The 420 and probably the puffer would be difficult car toppers. The others should be ok but still difficult with one person. I had no issues righting any of those boats as a kid. We did capsizing drills everyday. Looking back now I believe those drills were an amazing way to get over any fear that a potential sailor might have. Water wont hurt you but a boom might!
 
Oct 10, 2019
7
Signet 20 107 Ithaca
Why on earth would anyone attempt to put a Sunfish or a 420 on the roof of their car? That's why they invented trailers...
 
Sep 20, 2014
1,136
Rob Legg RL24 Chain O'Lakes
IF you convince yourself to tow, get a Hobie 14. That will provide the excitement necessary to keep a young kid interested. Also the chances of flipping it are not real high unless you are trying to fly a hull.
If your thinking of a Sunfish, also consider a Phantom. The Phantom is slightly larger/wider and accommodates 2 people easier because of the higher freeboard. It is also lighter and has slightly more sail area.
 
Oct 10, 2019
7
Signet 20 107 Ithaca
Seems to me if you have room for a boat, you have room for a trailer. Whatever, I just want to see the video of somebody single handing a 200 lb sailboat onto their car roof...
 
  • Like
Likes: Justin_NSA
Jul 7, 2004
6,644
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
BKmama, I'd really like to know what you get. I wish I had a small craft for those hot summer days. Storage is my problem.
 

RussC

.
Sep 11, 2015
1,447
Merit 22- Oregon lakes
One of my first boats was a Puffer. great little sailboat that will teach you a lot about sailing. very easy to right if you knock it down but you have to make pretty large mistakes to do that.
actually our most enjoyable boat, early on, was a Capri 14.2. those are big enough to give some small degree of comfort but are still very easy to right if need be. the only time I ever needed to right ours was when I intentionally put the mast in the water. very fun little boats.
 
Sep 20, 2014
1,136
Rob Legg RL24 Chain O'Lakes
Seems to me if you have room for a boat, you have room for a trailer. Whatever, I just want to see the video of somebody single handing a 200 lb sailboat onto their car roof...
That part is not a big deal at all. You just set on end on the luggage rack and then pick up the other end and slide it on. I've done it. It was simple and very easy. The Sunfish does not weigh 200 lbs, it actually only weighs 130 lbs. The Phantom only weighs 120 lbs. The hulls are even less weight.