posted 25 April 2002 06:32 PM
In the recent bulletin board posting from Scott in Hong Kong, he asked if there was anything in particular to look out for when buying a Sonata. This looks like a great topic for a short article on the web site – anyone feel like rising to the challenge?
posted 30 April 2002 03:53 PM
I bought ‘Paloma’ two months ago. She is a Mk I from 1980 and has been sailed hard in Hong Kong. A number of minor problems have surfaced, which other owners here tell me are common, so look out for them:-
The hull had a large quantity, thousands, of very small blisters, but they were not like normal osmotic blisters. I note other threads here mention having them near the waterline, but these were all over, mostly in the deeper sections. Many of them were open already, but I noticed they did not go down to the laminate. I ‘peeled’ several more, and none of them had any fluid in, nor did they reach the laminate. I was then lucky to meet at my club an American who had spent several years working in a yard in USA specialising in hull restorations… gelcoat peeling etc. He told me this was not a true form of Osmosis as the reaction was not with the resin in the laminate, rather it was a related chemical reaction on a poor quality gelcoat. The boat had been kept ashore until about three years ago, so these had recently developed. He advised that what I was doing was correct and would solve the problem for many years. That is, take off all old anti-fouling, sand smoothish, then fill all the holes with something like Epiglass. Finally put a two part barrier coat to keep the sea water away from the gelcoat in future. I used International ‘Interprotect’, about 5 coats applied with a roller, easy. So, if you have any of these holes, the news is bad in that quite a lot of work has to be done, but good in that it is probably not a structural threat.
There is a thread about the forward bomb doors. They are easily cracked or broken because they do not really hold a man’s weight, even though occupying most of the for-deck. I am making new ones which will hold a heavy person. Weight penalty for racers though.
I was lucky in that my rudder, the mounting brackets and the long pin were in quite good condition. I just had to replace the lower bracket as the holes had elongated a bit, but this was cheap. However, looking at other Sonatas here, I realise I was lucky, as many of them had very poor rudders, with splits and cracking around the metal bands that attach to the mounting brackets. Some were cleverly covered with filler, but you could see the cracks! I have sanded mine down to bare wood and it is very sound. New rudders are available (see this website) but this is not a trivial expense.
Because most of these boats are raced, the interiors of most are just a store room, and even if sound, need a lot of work if you want to cruise. Furthermore, as in my case, I found that 90% of the Sonatas here have no form of electric power, since the outboard is usually a 4hp without charging. I have solved the problem with a 100a/hr deep discharge battery and a flexible solar panel of 10W which does not need a regulator as it cannot overcharge. You can tie it over the boom sail bag when moored. If you want some form of power, for nav & cabin lights for example, you will have to factor in the cost. You really don’t want to lug a battery home to recharge it.
You must ensure you have a good set of sails. Obviously if racing they must be of good quality, but even for a cruiser, since the headsails are hanked on, you need a No2 and No 3 besides the normal large Genoa. You might also need a storm jib and a spinnaker. If they are not with the boat you buy, think of the cost. Consider also the make of the sails. Goacher sails win most races, but obviously there are other good ones from other manufacturrs. Check this site for info, and beware unknown brands.
Your outboard is important. A 4hp is minimum and up to 9.9 can apparently be fitted. A 2-stroke is adequate as consumption will be low, but a good 4-stroke is worth paying extra for. If you want to race, there are a number of more or less essential modifications. If they are already fitted, this is a plus. They include a full-width mainsail track, a foot brace in the centre of the cockpit, a two sided backstay adjuster, likewise mainsail track adjuster, so that these tasks can be done easily on either tack. A better kicker than standard. There are numerous other tips on this site that give other ideas.
The newest of these boats will be 12 years old, and most much older. If the standing rigging is the same age, it probably needs replacing.
Stanchions have often been fallen against, usually resulting in cracking of the deck at the base. All of mine have been changed and refitted with substantial backing pads. This was obviously a major job from which I have benefitted. Check yours.
There are no thru-hulls, luckily, so if there are signs of water in the bilge, it comes from one of four locations:-
1. The circular access between the bow anchor locker and the forcabin. Make sure it is properly dogged up and in good order.
2. The for-hatch. Check its seals.
3. The main hatch, likewise check this and the washboard for fit.
4. The cabin windows. It is a cheap but lengthy job to remove the hundreds of bolts, clean off the old sealant, replace with new (and maybe new glass) and refit, then clean off the oozed out sealant. Factor in the time.
I don’t know what year the Mk II was introduced. The differences are not huge, but the cockpit of the II is a bit better designed. By this time however, condition will be more important than age.
Hope all this helps.