May 10, 2018 - Sailing    Comments Off on Thistle Dinghy

Thistle Dinghy

Sometimes I cruise Craigslist and find interesting things for a price I can afford.  I research them. If it’s interesting enough I just might buy it.  Well, that’s what happened with a Thistle dinghy sailboat. Sometimes a bargain isn’t as good a bargain as it might seem.

First, I’m writing this with a boat that’s only been on the trailer so far for me.  I looked it over generally, and things seemed right.  The guy I bought it from didn’t seem to know much about the boat so I figured all the parts were there. I was wrong.

The Internet is a very poor reference for these boats. Thistle sailors are pretty good at helping, but they don’t leave much trail on the Internet to follow.  The Yahoo Thistle group is set up to email the entire list, and folks reply back to you directly rather than contribute to the topic.  I did find two sailors near me (one near Kentucky Lake, the other in Columbia) that offered to help me out. There’s no ‘fleet’ in Nashville.  Nearest fleets are Chattanooga and Knoxville.  Interestingly, my friend from Chattanooga on Facebook saw my post and said her family used to race Thistles! She said she got to know every playground at every marina in the southeast.

About 4000 were made apparently, mine is #3260, I think, made by Clark.  Sails have 3260, but I can’t find a number on the hull.

Here’s what’s right:

  • The boat was cheap – $850 with trailer. The tires and axle is good.
  • It’s blue.
  • The sails are in pretty good shape.
  • The boat floats, the hull and even the bailers don’t leak.

Here’s what I’ve figured out is missing so far in order of criticality:

  • Sail Battens – there’s nothing on the Internet about how to replace them. I may buy some standard ones from Sailrite. That’s about $50.
  • Spinnaker ‘whisker’ pole – that’s $200
  • Various clevises are not correct spec. $30 worth?
  • Cleat bearings and springs were shot.  Harken sells a rebuild kit for them with new Delrin bearings for about $15 each.  Two sets did three cleats. $30
  • Two of four inspection plates are shot.  One is split and the other has the cover completely missing. They’re 4″ diameter and I picked up a couple replacments at West Marine.  I haven’t installed them yet, but they need to be installed before going sailing in real wind.  A tip-over could sink the boat otherwise.
  • One 360 cleat is missing. The other is there. I think I can work around it, but new ones are $65 from Great Midwest Yacht Company.
  • One full end of the mainsheet traveler (“Cheek block” and track end cap)  The cheek block I think is a Harken HR432.
  • Traveler cart sheaves are busted (it’s a Ronstan RF666).  I think this one is the replacement, but I’ll update later if it isn’t. I can tie it off in the center to get us on the water. Unfortunately one of the two pins and E-clips is missing.  I’ll probably have to make the replacement on the metal lathe out of a stainless 14″ pin.  The groove for the clip is the hard part.
  • Vang has to be the wrong one.  Maybe it’s Sunfish rigging, but it’s not sturdy enough for this boat. I think I’ll buy the Harken parts and build one out if I can’t find a spare for sale.
  • The transom is weak and was reinforced with a piece of wood.  It’s a good job, except it blocks the traveler control line paths. I may replace the wood block with a piece of stainless cut on the plasma table. I’m not sure yet.
  • The seats, or whatever they’re called, need some new fiberglass to attach. It’ll leak, but it’s just crappy for now. If we really like the thing, I’ll fix it right and repaint the inside.
  • The plastic spool for the “fast jib” or whatever they call it is broken. Someone ‘repaired’ it with fiberglass.  I think I’m going to have to fabricate a new one, maybe out of aluminum sheet. That might actually be a fun project for the TIG welder and plasma table.
  • Trailer is rusted and someone painted it over.  It’s a crap job.

I’ll come back later and add some photos and such.


Comments are closed.