Or how I made my Sonata easer to sail.
This all started back in 2015 when I decided to buy a Sonata. I had always admired the Sonata ever since they came out in 1978 but never been able to afford one. So at 61 years of age it was now or never. The Sonata is a beautiful boat to handle, light and responsive and fast for her size. However the Sonata is designed to be sailed with a crew of 3–4 who don’t mind changing headsail in 20 knots of wind and getting very wet! And not an easy boat to sail on your own as most of the sail controls are out of reach of the helm, not to mention the bolt rope on the luff of the mainsail which made it impossible to hoist and feed at the same time.
It was time to make a brave decision, do I trade in a boat that I just love to sail for something a bit more sedate or do I do something with the boat I have? One of the things I considered was how about a Hunter Duette? More of a cruiser than a racer, it uses the same hull as the Sonata but with bilge keels. Hunter call them twin fins? I wasn’t convinced. So what would make my Sonata more user friendly? Get rid of the hank on head sails and fit a roller head sail? This would make reducing sail easy and I could leave the sail rolled up and ready to go sailing, also with this type of sail I could alter the size of the head sail infinitely. The down side would be when rolled down to a no.2 size it would be nowhere as good as the hanked-on sail upwind.
Stage Two: would be a new mainsail with slugs instead of a bolt rope and a stack pack with lazy jacks The main would then be easy to hoist and drop with little difference in performance.
The next step was to talk to a sailmaker and rigger; I felt that if I was to reach my aims I needed to keep it local. Enter Andy Freemantle of Freemantle rigging and Josh of Severn Sails. It was of great advantage to discuss my requirements face to face instead of someone on the end of a phone who didn’t know me or my boat.
Stage Three the installation: At the beginning of January I took my Sonata over to Andy at Penarth Marina to have a Furlex roller fitted. Excellent job, lots of good advice, and managed to fit the Furlex drum in the forward deck locker, this would mean that the sail could be cut lower to the deck.
Stage Four: See Josh to design and make the sails. Josh was pleased to hear that Andy had managed to fit the Furlex below deck, as this would make it easier to cut a headsail that would still perform well when rolled to a no.2 size. The sails and stack pack were then delivered and fitted by Josh.
Stage Five test sail: it is always a good idea when using new sails to have a light airs day to run the sails in. On the day it couldn’t be better 5 knots to begin with building to about 12 knots. I was sailing with the T.A.R.S fleet so had other boats to judge my performance with and as far as I could see there was little or no difference in the performance.
I must say I was pleased that I had used a local Sail maker, Josh of Severn Sails and Andy and Richard of Freemantle rigging in this project as their expertise and skills were invaluable.
Idris Dibble (Argento)