I am new to Sonata sailing. I have just bought one and it’s nicely set up for racing. As well as racing, I am thinking of travelling further afield, encouraged by having read exploits of people who have ventured cross channel and also around W Scotland.
Would welcome advice/experiences re emergency equipment – it’s a small boat and there’s not much room to house/hang a liferaft. Do people rely on their dinghy? If so, is it kept inflated on deck (not much room), or what? (wouldn’t want to have to dig the dinghy out of the back of the cabin in the dark in an emergency, find the pump, and inflate it whilst sinking or on fire!).
If you are cruising you will need your dinghy to get ashore when anchored or on a mooring so that is what I whould carry, not forgetting the pump and oars. Some years ago when we used to have an overnight race in the Scottish Series we had to carry a 4 person dinghy and we stowed it deflated under the tiller in the cockpit. In an emergency you are always safer
to stay with the boat for as long as you can.
I use my Sonata for cruising and had several years of struggling with a dinghy in the forecabin. I now have a small (2/3 man inflatable with an air deck and solid transom) that lives deflated and rolled up across the foredeck over the hatch and lashed down – it just fits and doesn’t get in the way of sail changes too much. We carry a Tohatsu 3.5 two stroke on the stbd deck aft tied to the pushpit and guardwires and just about out of the way. (the boat has its own 4.5 Hp o/B). The dinghy can be inflated on the foredeck at anchor and the motor handled over the side at the stbs quarter. This year I’ll put a cleat on the stbd side by the end of the genoa track to hitch the dingy onto. I have a plastimo folding boarding ladder on the transom to stbd for dinghy access and getting on board if you fall overboard. It all works very well, and although we can only get 2 + gear in the dinghy it goes at up to 10 knots (!) with a teenager so relays are not too slow (its popular for fun trips too). I did think about the space under the tiller but that is boxed in and full of gas and petrol tanks. The air deck & inflatable keel are well worth the extra cost. I have worried about a liferaft, but you just can’t have everything on a small boat – maybe get an epirb instead, or a fitted VHF with DSC and GPS. I’m off to the the W coast of Scotland this year too, in the Firth of Clyde area for a warm-up. The small Isles will be next year, I hope.