The Alcort Sunfish empire began with a commercially unsuccessful ice boat design, some 50 boats made in the early 1960’s. CIBC member Al Heath bought one from Uncle Henry’s some years ago and has been sailing it hard and maintaining it little for many seasons. It sails well with un-modified Sunfish spars and sail, and is made from a few sticks of wood, ply, nuts and bolts, and angle iron runners.
The CIBC brain trust felt we should build a replica to tempt soft water sailors onto the hard stuff and a healthy ice addiction. Bill Buchholz of Apache Boat Works, Camden, was contracted to construct the craft forthwith.
Forthwith turned out to be 4 hours for the bare fuselage, the big bang. The space time continuum expanded exponentially to five days and $150 worth of materials, lumber yard 2 X 12, a bag of 3/8 ordinary shiny bolts, not even hot dipped galvanized let alone stainless, Titebond III glue, no epoxy, bits of plywood from around the shop, bed frame rails from the dump for runner angle steel (much harder than cold rolled), aluminum plate bits from the junk box, and a hand full of wood screws.
A somewhat worn but serviceable Sunfish rig was applied to what looks like a streamlined life raft.
The expensive items of a DN are missing; no $1000 mast, no $1000 sail, no $1000 runners, no $1000 hardware package, no $100 4X8 sheet of ply wood and $100 worth of Sitka spruce, no $100 worth of Epoxy and fancy varnish.
The time continuum is in the neighborhood of 40 hours. The boat was removed from the Buchholz shop after the fifth day to stop the clock. Some little stuff remained to be done like sharpening the angle steel runners, freeing up runner bolt holes so wet swelling wood doesn’t end the sailing day on a sour note and so forth. The space continuum is garage/basement.
The boat will sail. The Alcort guys paid some attention to DN foot print, tiller/steering arrangement, sheet run, etc. The low aspect Sunfish Lateen rig of 75 Square feet (as much as a skeeter !) will have sufficient power. The 12 inch wide plank should support robust skippers. In case of mishap it will float, even the runners float. No need to retrieve the boat with a grapnel in the Spring as with a “Skimmer”.
The “Cheapskate” can indeed be built on the cheap if the skipper does the work. Basic shop and wood working skills nearer the level of bird houses than stripper canoes or kitchen cabinetry is sufficient. A Thanksgiving start and application evenings and weekends should get onto the ice by New Year. Plans and written guidelines will appear soon.