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Old 18-02-2016, 14:58   #1
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Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

Some background on me. I'm 33 and going a little bit crazier every day that I am at my 9-5 job. Basically, I spend an inordinate amount of time daily thinking about my future plans to leave the cold of Southeast Michigan and moving south to my boat in the ocean. More or less, if I'm not reading up on sailing, I'm probably daydreaming about it. That said, I have virtually zero experience on sailboats. I have, however, been on smaller powerboats my whole life and have owned my own for about the last 12 years in the Great Lakes.

My current plan is to save up and build a source of passive income over the next 5-6 years and then head out. My plan is to either buy in Florida and start cruising in the Caribbean, or purchase somewhere Mediterranean and start off there. Eventually, I plan to sail to as much of the world as is possible.

In the meantime, I'm going to learn as much as is possible. I've already signed up for ASA 101/103/104 (once the ice melts) with a school on Lake Saint Clair. Since that's only going to cover me for a few weekends of instruction, I need to buy a boat. And for that, I need some CF help.

I have a budget of about 40k, maybe slightly higher if something great came about. I will be primarily sailing on Lake Saint Clair with occasional trips to spots on Huron and Erie. I don't require the best of anything, but I also don't want to spend all of my time and money at this point on upgrades and maintenance. From what I've researched, something in the mid to upper 30's is probably the size I'm aiming for.

What boats would you all recommend for that kind of a budget to gain relevant sailing learning experience in the Eastern Great Lakes? Primarily, it will be my girlfriend and I (slightly higher maintenance than myself..) That said, I do also have many friends in the area who will frequently want to be coming along for the ride, and I have a strong affinity for providing entertainment.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:02   #2
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

Also, do you recommend buying only in Michigan? Despite the signs I've seen on the boats in my marina, I've not had a very easy time finding boats that are actually for sale. Is buying out of state and shipping in typically ever really worth the cost?
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:27   #3
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

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Originally Posted by Iduna View Post

(...)

What boats would you all recommend for that kind of a budget to gain relevant sailing learning experience in the Eastern Great Lakes? Primarily, it will be my girlfriend and I (slightly higher maintenance than myself..)

(...)

I have a strong affinity for providing entertainment.
Any two person dinghy should do fine for starters: a Mirror, a 420, or a 29er - from easy to more demanding left to right. It normally takes only one season for kids and a couple of seasons for adults to master the basics of sailing.

You can also start on a small keelboat - say a Typhoon or something alike. It is a longer, easier road perhaps.

If I were a beginner, I would start with a centerboard dinghy then go for a keelboat. This is also the way to assure your friends will be entertained.

b.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:29   #4
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

I'll give you that, watching me would definitely be the entertainment. Not quite so good for taking those trips down to Erie though.
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Old 18-02-2016, 16:18   #5
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

I think if I were in your shoes I'd go for something like a Catalina 30. Not too expensive to acquire or keep, but a pretty capable weekender/coastal cruiser.

Small enough to single-hand, big enough to take a couple of friends along.

There are also a lot of similar boats in that range. They have the systems of larger boats, but a bit simpler at that size. Big user community, lots of advice around.
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Old 18-02-2016, 16:45   #6
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

When I was a teenager and bitten by the bug I was looking at all sorts of designs to build, but as I gained experience, and had a clearer goal for the boat, my tastes changed quite a bit. I say, feed those dreams big-time with lots of research, trips to the museums and libraries, pictures of boats hanging on all your walls etc., but don't buy big yet. Sail, sail fun and fast and simple. The Laser is the boat I really learned on as a kid and it was great, I highly recommend it or something like it. In the dead of winter the craving for a bigger boat can be intense perhaps... I don't want to splash cold water on you to kill your dreams for buying a bigger boat, just cool them down a bit. And let us know what boats you are looking at and which pique your fancy; we LOVE talking about our boats here. Of course I have never made any mistakes when it comes to boats, but perhaps a few others here have, and it's always good to learn from others' mistakes. Welcome here, BTW.
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Old 19-02-2016, 08:39   #7
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

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Originally Posted by Iduna View Post
Some background on me. I'm 33 and going a little bit crazier every day that I am at my 9-5 job. Basically, I spend an inordinate amount of time daily thinking about my future plans to leave the cold of Southeast Michigan and moving south to my boat in the ocean. More or less, if I'm not reading up on sailing, I'm probably daydreaming about it. That said, I have virtually zero experience on sailboats. I have, however, been on smaller powerboats my whole life and have owned my own for about the last 12 years in the Great Lakes.

My current plan is to save up and build a source of passive income over the next 5-6 years and then head out. My plan is to either buy in Florida and start cruising in the Caribbean, or purchase somewhere Mediterranean and start off there. Eventually, I plan to sail to as much of the world as is possible.

In the meantime, I'm going to learn as much as is possible. I've already signed up for ASA 101/103/104 (once the ice melts) with a school on Lake Saint Clair. Since that's only going to cover me for a few weekends of instruction, I need to buy a boat. And for that, I need some CF help.

I have a budget of about 40k, maybe slightly higher if something great came about. I will be primarily sailing on Lake Saint Clair with occasional trips to spots on Huron and Erie. I don't require the best of anything, but I also don't want to spend all of my time and money at this point on upgrades and maintenance. From what I've researched, something in the mid to upper 30's is probably the size I'm aiming for.

What boats would you all recommend for that kind of a budget to gain relevant sailing learning experience in the Eastern Great Lakes? Primarily, it will be my girlfriend and I (slightly higher maintenance than myself..) That said, I do also have many friends in the area who will frequently want to be coming along for the ride, and I have a strong affinity for providing entertainment.
I lived in the Detroit area during the 90's and belong to the local sailing club there. Great people and many boats to sail on. Weekend trips and summer cruises in the North channel. Lots of women who love to dance, but you can bring your own.
http://sailingsinglesclub.com/
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Old 19-02-2016, 08:40   #8
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

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Also, do you recommend buying only in Michigan? Despite the signs I've seen on the boats in my marina, I've not had a very easy time finding boats that are actually for sale. Is buying out of state and shipping in typically ever really worth the cost?
I would consider boats in at least the Lake Mich, Lake Erie and Lake Huron areas. Older boats that have always been in fresh water hold up a little better as there is no salt so less corrosion, and they are only in the water half the year. Many of these may have been lightly used as lots of boats sit in the harbor and are used as weekend cabins (this creates it's own set of issues, but that is a different topic). The trip back to your home harbor could be done on you "new" boat, giving you lots of experience, but if it is any real distance (say over 20 miles), I would make sure you had someone on the boat who had made the trip before to teach you. The lakes can be dangerous and some experience is needed before you cross one. The good news is there tend to be harbors most every 30 miles or so along the coasts. There are people you can hire for this, and sometimes the selling broker can line someone up if it will close the deal. Also going to local yacht clubs or harbors and meeting people may get you some exposure to folks who would be glad to help. You might also try to get on a boat that is doing the local racing circuit . As crew on a bouy race boat, you will learn a ton, meet many people and get a feel for many boats. Lot's of 30 -40 foot boat owners would love to have some on the crew who helps with the painting in the spring, maint and does more than just show up on the weekends to race. Offer to help as a way of learning and you will get a lot out of it.

Just a few thoughts. good luck.
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Old 19-02-2016, 08:41   #9
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

Thanks for the replies guys. My goal is to buy something that will hold me over for the next 5-6 years until I buy the one I actually go cruising on. I don't want to be needing an upgrade in a year or two. I know how that itch works.

I also have tickets already to head to Annapolis for the Spring Sailboat Show. Looking to get on as many as possible, although that just shows me layouts of new boats at dock, not so much how the different designs actually work.

Here area a few kind of representative that I'd been looking at. If you all think that there's something cheaper/easier that would work well, I'd be all for it.

Trips to Mackinac, Put-in-Bay, are high on my list.


Used 1994 Beneteau Oceanis 351, Amherst, Ny - 14228 - BoatTrader.com
1996 Hunter 336 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
1994 Hunter 35.5 Legend, Kemah Texas - boats.com
1990 Catalina 34, Marshfield Massachusetts - boats.com
1990 Jeanneau 11.2 Voyager, Long Beach Mississippi - boats.com
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Old 19-02-2016, 08:43   #10
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

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Originally Posted by newtonsailor View Post
I would consider boats in at least the Lake Mich, Lake Erie and Lake Huron areas. Older boats that have always been in fresh water hold up a little better as there is no salt so less corrosion, and they are only in the water half the year. Many of these may have been lightly used as lots of boats sit in the harbor and are used as weekend cabins (this creates it's own set of issues, but that is a different topic). The trip back to your home harbor could be done on you "new" boat, giving you lots of experience, but if it is any real distance (say over 20 miles), I would make sure you had someone on the boat who had made the trip before to teach you. The lakes can be dangerous and some experience is needed before you cross one. The good news is there tend to be harbors most every 30 miles or so along the coasts. There are people you can hire for this, and sometimes the selling broker can line someone up if it will close the deal. Also going to local yacht clubs or harbors and meeting people may get you some exposure to folks who would be glad to help. You might also try to get on a boat that is doing the local racing circuit . As crew on a bouy race boat, you will learn a ton, meet many people and get a feel for many boats. Lot's of 30 -40 foot boat owners would love to have some on the crew who helps with the painting in the spring, maint and does more than just show up on the weekends to race. Offer to help as a way of learning and you will get a lot out of it.

Just a few thoughts. good luck.
That is a good idea. I do plan to reach out to some local sail clubs, not sure on the best way to do that yet though.
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Old 19-02-2016, 08:52   #11
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

My suggestion would be to consider an older Cal-25 or a Catalina 27. They are great boats for weekend adventures, you have enough space to be able to go on 2 - 3 day sails, and they are well-built, cheap to buy and cheap to own. You will learn more on a smaller boat because the reaction time between doing something and seeing the result is almost instant. A larger boat is also harder to handle if you get in trouble. Example: you get into an unintended jibe. On my Cal 25, I would just grab the mainsheet at 2 or 3 feet from the mast and use my grip to slow things down. Don't ever try that on a 30 footer.

If you sail regularly, you will pick up the skill quickly. In the space of one season, you'll become a competent sailor in fair weather. After two seasons, you'll be ready to take on some challenges. The thing to remember is that you learn very little by just repeating the same sail over and over. You need to branch out, try different things, and practice. One of the best practices is the man-overboard routine. I'd get that down so well that you can do it without thinking, different ways ( jibe and tack, windward and lee-ward.) Practice with a life preserver. Also, you must pay attention to heavy weather sailing techniques. When a squall races over Lake St. Clair, you have only a few minutes to prepare. It can get ugly and expensive if you do the wrong things.

It's also really helpful to get involved in beer-can races. They are fun and wow, you really see where you need to improve. A season of club races will improve your sailing ability manyfold. BTW, you don't have to own a boat, most skippers are always looking for crew. Crew on a smaller boat, try different teams, and watch everything they do. Some racers are good teachers... others just get too involved in winning. Avoid anybody who yells and screams at crew... they are too emotional to sail effectively and you will have a miserable time. When I would race, I always looked for people who wanted to learn. We'd practice a little, and I would explain the why's in addition to the what's. It was a treat when I had an experienced sailor on my boat... they often taught me something. We'd usually finish in the middle of the pack or slightly ahead.

Best of luck, fair winds and following seas to you....
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Old 19-02-2016, 10:18   #12
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

I think the C30 suggestion is a good one - but better yet, look at this C320. BTW, it is my boat and seriously for sale. The forum is invited to opine as to suitability for the OP.
1994 Catalina 320 sailboat for sale in Michigan
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Old 19-02-2016, 10:41   #13
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

For the first sailboat I would advise to seriously consider a trailerable 25 footer (+/-). There were many decent enough models made in late 70s through 90s which you can get from a few hundred bucks to about $10K. The trailer/centerboard/swing keel part will allow you to explore many more areas than you would otherwise and you may be able to save a bunch of $$ on dockage and/or winter storage if you have the place for her at home.

The 25ft models I would consider, not in any particular order, would be Cal, Catalina, O'day, US Yachts, Pearson, Olson, etc. All made sturdy enough boats in that size range to forgive an occasional "oh oh" screw up and if used exclusively in the fresh water their age would not be as much of a factor anyway.
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Old 19-02-2016, 11:09   #14
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

Best to ignore any advice about a specific boat--that is waaaay down the line and only reflects personal bias in the most specific way. Start now and start small and buy now....don't keep dreaming for five years. Read Sensible Curising: A Thoreau Approach and get the smallest boat you can comfortably manage and afford. Best to spend less on the boat and its upkeep and go now then to wait five years.. Plenty of good boats out there now waiting for you and within your budget. Much depends on your abilities, skills and tools--which can save you big bucks. Have fun....go now..
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Old 19-02-2016, 11:09   #15
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Re: Future cruiser buying first sailboat in Michigan

Welcome! I got that same bug when I was your age (I'm 40 now). It's a great feeling thinking about the future! Whatever you get, plan on replacing it one day because your first sailboat will let you know what you want in your next sailboat! I'm partial to the older Hunter Cherubini's...but there are plenty of good boats out there.
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