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Old 16-01-2014, 20:53   #1
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Family cruising the Great Lakes

Hi!

Here is our plan: We are a couple with a 1yr old daughter and a dog. We want to spend the summer sailing the Great Lakes (on a budget). We currently are planning to spend most of our time on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay. Our loose plan is to head out in June, buy a boat (or lease if anyone thinks that is an option) and get ready to sail by mid to third week in June until the end of summer. We hope to find a boat that is able to be sailed by one person (so the other can attend to the baby and dog), and perhaps one that has a retractable keel so beaching and camping is also an option.

Some questions we have:
1. Any recommendations on best boat to fit the job?
2. Any spots we shouldn't miss out on?
3. Any thoughts on selling the boat at the end of the season?
4. Any suggestions for cheap ways to explore land without high slip/moorage fees?
5. Any tips on cruising with young kiddos? (will be our first time out with her!)

Any advice is appreciated!
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Old 16-01-2014, 21:03   #2
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

tough to answer any of your questions without knowing your level of experience and budget.
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Old 16-01-2014, 23:19   #3
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

I am a pretty experienced sailor who has been around boats my whole life, have a bareboat cert, and have been a small boat sailing instructor. This is our first substantial cruise though, so that will be new....

In terms of budget, we have seen lots of boats on craigslist that claim to be ready to sail and live aboard worthy for less than $10,000 which is right where we would like to be. I would like to keep our monthly moorage to $500-1000.

Is this reasonable? Thanks for your reply!
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Old 16-01-2014, 23:24   #4
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

Maybe $500-1000 is high. Much less would be far more desirable. One thing that should be known is that we are VERY LOW MAINTENANCE. I hate fancy and don't require a lot of comfort...
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Old 16-01-2014, 23:34   #5
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

Check out a McGregor 26, Catalina 25 or 27. All good solid boats. C27 will give you the most comfort. Though you Mau want to bump up your budget a bit and look at something along the lines of a Catalina 30. With you, your wife, a baby and a dog onboard, a small boat will get very crowded, very quickly. Take every one down to look at boats, then see how well you all fit onboard and if you can honestly stand it for weeks on end.

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Old 17-01-2014, 06:43   #6
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

We all aspire to different levels of "comfort" so I can't say how "basic" you can be happy with but I'd be very surprised if you could get a safe 30 footer for 10k.

30' would be very tight for me but maybe you could be happy with it. I tend to think that a 10k boat would cost another 10k to make it cruise ready.

Don't believe everything you read on Craigslist. Take a look at Marine Survey 101 before you go look at boats.
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Old 17-01-2014, 07:16   #7
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

We sail on the great lakes and will also be cruising again this summer. It is possible to do it on a budget if you anchor out. The Michigan side of Lake Michigan is generally nicer cruising and better for anchoring as there are a lot of inland lakes with good anchoring. It is more difficult to anchor on the Wisconsin side. I would definitely consider taking bikes for exploring. Lake Huron, the north channel, and Georgia Bay are some of the best cruising grounds in the world. I would suggest joining the Great Lakes Cruising Club. They have detailed harbor reports for the entire great lakes. If you have any specific questions feel free to send me a pm.
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Old 17-01-2014, 07:22   #8
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

Your plans are exciting, but I find your timeline aggressive. It takes a looooooong time to sort out an unknown boat. Try to purchase the boat as soon as you find the right one.
Your sailing area has a lot of opportunites to anchor out, hang on a mooring, or be in marinas. Look into joining a yacht club that offers reciprocity to its members at other YCs around the Lakes. Often a night or 2 is free or low cost.
Be careful beaching your boat. You may not be able to get it off the beach if even a single wave pushes it up too far.
Don't forget the North Channel; there's enough cruising there for a lifetime and many areas are well protected. Consider trailering to that area. I'd avoid Georgian Bay in favor of the NC.
Another boat brand (perhaps more expensive) I'd consider is the S2 line.
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Old 17-01-2014, 07:30   #9
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

Hunter 30 or 33 the Cherubini models.
The dunes on the Michigan side, Southhaven north.
Frankfort, Leeland(fish town), South Manitou island
Traverse Bay, Mac Island. Sturgeon Bay/Door county, Fayette. Just a few.
Buy the boat now don't wait end season at Torrensen marine. Cheap to haul and store for winter. Sell over winter or spring of next year.
Anchor out it's free get a rollup dink if you want a motor or a 8-10 foot portabote if you want to row.
Put a (pack and play) in main cabin. Kid will be safe and motion is the best here. We did this with our twins in a Hunter 30.
Lots of sunblock and or umbrella or bimini.
Also autopilot will help to free up your time.
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Old 17-01-2014, 07:39   #10
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Hedtke View Post
Your plans are exciting, but I find your timeline aggressive. It takes a looooooong time to sort out an unknown boat.
yeah - this. At a minimum, if you still intend to go cruising this year, start looking for a boat now, and try to have possession by April, so you have 2+ months to thoroughly test the boat out, find and fix deficiencies or safety issues, and set up the interior.

I assume you've bought a book or two on cruising, so you have some idea of the gear you'll need, and know to look for that gear when checking out boats

Something in the 25 to 30 ft range would do, and you have lots of choice there, if you don't mind old boats. "Beachable" requires a retracting keel or centerboard, which reduces the field, and finding a decent beachable boat in your size for $10k might be tough.
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Old 17-01-2014, 07:50   #11
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

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Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
We all aspire to different levels of "comfort" so I can't say how "basic" you can be happy with but I'd be very surprised if you could get a safe 30 footer for 10k.

30' would be very tight for me but maybe you could be happy with it. I tend to think that a 10k boat would cost another 10k to make it cruise ready.

Don't believe everything you read on Craigslist. Take a look at Marine Survey 101 before you go look at boats.
Bought a 78 hunter 30 out of Chicago $7800 7 years or so ago (market hasn't improved) sail home to Holland Michigan used that fall. Put a autopilot on it used all next summer. Sold to my boss that fall. He still sails the same boat only painted to hull and deck to change the color. I don't think he has $10000 in it yet.

It can be done.
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Old 17-01-2014, 08:16   #12
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

I think your plans sounds ... ambitious. Given your budget and your timelines, a smaller boat is going to be easier to find in a near-ready state. Most smaller boats are easier to solo-sail (most -- not all). But a smaller boat will also be a lot less comfortable for two adults, a baby and a dog for up to three months.

You sound like a very skilled sailor, but cruising involves more skills than just sailing; anchoring, maintenance, and weather management being right on top. The Great Lakes can be quite temperamental. Weather can happen fast here, and things can quickly become dangerous. Listen to the forecasts, but more importantly, listen to your own senses.

In addition to the boats listed I'd consider a Grampian 26, a Northern 25 or a Bayfield 25.

Things not to miss: I hear northern Michigan is nice (I have not sailed there). Mackinac Is. is said to be a lot of fun. The North Channel is not to be missed. In fact, if I were you, I'd head there and spend the whole summer. It is an area that is relatively protected, yet has hundreds of wonderful anchorages, places to explore, small towns, and even some decent distances where you can put your sailing skills to work. Water is warm and clean. Perfect for family cruising.
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Old 17-01-2014, 08:27   #13
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
We all aspire to different levels of "comfort" so I can't say how "basic" you can be happy with but I'd be very surprised if you could get a safe 30 footer for 10k.

30' would be very tight for me but maybe you could be happy with it. I tend to think that a 10k boat would cost another 10k to make it cruise ready.

Don't believe everything you read on Craigslist. Take a look at Marine Survey 101 before you go look at boats.
Excellent advice, and you were quite restrained considering your occupation!

It is possible to find a 10K 30 footer that is safe, but is only safe for one or two seasons, if one is handy. By this, I mean you can get a Pearson 30 or a Mirage 30 that doesn't have elderly brass gate valves and does have doubled, properly SS hose clamps below the waterline. But it might also have an Atomic 4 in need of a rebuild, original rigging (particularly if it's never seen salt water) and leaky fixed portlights.

In other words, there are a lot of boats on the market where the "casual" level of maintenance is acceptable (they won't explode), but for which the systemic, bigger ticket upgrades have not been performed because the cost versus the return doesn't make sense, or the P.O. can see the anchor swallowing approaching and decides to leave the replacement of the 20 year old main to the next guy.

You need to first understand what you are looking at in terms of "nice to have" versus "dangerously compromised" and all the shades inbetween, and then figure out what's a deal-breaker given your time and money constraints.

I have replaced my Atomic 4 with a rebuilt Atomic 4 (diesel doesn't make sense for the way I sail, nor does its price), done extensive reinforcing glasswork, refreshed the sails, refreshed, replaced and made safer the fuel system, the seacocks, and the wiring, and updated most of the running rigging and all of the standing rigging on my 41 year old Viking 33 since I bought it it 1999. I've done nothing about the horrible brown plaid upholstery and just pulled out the defective water supply, finding no need for more than a few jugs of water for domestic use.

So my boat "shows" poorly in a cosmetic sense, but works well and is objectively safe and strong, particularly as we don't hesitate to sail in big air. There are loads of boats with new upholstery and pretty, Awlgripped decks and hulls that are half-rotten at the through-hulls or have dodgy electrical setups. It's important to separate the lipstick from the pig, I think.

Hope this helps.
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Old 17-01-2014, 08:48   #14
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

Check out craigslist grand rapids Michigan. Columbia 29, Catalina 30 tall rig. I have no stake in these, just examples.
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Old 17-01-2014, 09:06   #15
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Re: Family cruising the Great Lakes

Having typed up a nice long reply about ports and whats arounds and looking for boats ect, then had it all deleted when it didnt load grrr! Well I'm the guy with the Columbia 29 and there are some others good boats around too. No rotted through hulls or soggy decks here. Just a nice solid cruising boat. The intereior does have some new cushions and could use a few more for the table... . Ill say there are lots of yard queesn around but not all would be capable of a fix up in your time frame. I'll get around to rebuilding the rediculously long post later tonight for now it's back to work.
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