I am looking to buy a Sonata for use on the East coast. A bit of cruising, a bit of racing. Should I buy a swing keel or a fin. The former will probably help me to get in and out of my local tidal muddy river, but will it perform as well as a fin when going for it?
Your advice would be appreciated.
I’ve never sailed a lift-keel Sonata so I’m undoubtedly biased but I have sailed a fin-keel Sonata on the East Coast. If you’re going to do any racing then there’s a strong argument for a fin keel, not just because they are faster but because there are so many more of them to race against. Lots of people cruise fin keel Sonatas all over the place including the East Coast – there are plenty of places you can get into with a 1.4m draft and if you do accidentally go onto the mud then you can usually heel the boat over and get off again. Against that, you’ll need a deeper and more expensive mooring and there will be some places on the East Coast that you won’t be able to go.
Any views from lift keel owners?
I have a lift keeler that I keep on the Orwell. It’s in fact badged as a Duette but I think is basically a left over Sonata hull as it was built in 1988. It’s a cracking boat but doesn’t go brilliantly to windward. I would doubt anywhere near as well as the fin keeler. The lift keel is useful but they do need looking after to ensure they don’t jam, a common problem with quite a few lift keelers. I initially wanted a Sonata but most we looked at had either had a tough racing life and hence quite a lot of deck stress fracturing etc or were very basic inside. I’m sure there are really tidy ones out there if you look hard enough.