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Old 03-01-2013, 21:20   #1
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csmith22

Situation: Having sailed a lot as a teenager and not a lot since then, now that I have moved close to Lake Michigan (New Buffalo, MI), I am serious about buying a boat and getting back into sailing. My question is: what boat would serve me best?
Criteria/Purpose: Am looking for a cruiser, not a racer--stability and comfort are values over speed. I wish to be able to daysail with 4-6 people, weekend sail with 2-4 people, and week/summer month sail by myself or another person. I am looking at 28-36 feet long. Need to be able to handle the boat by myself. Also, having had too many scary/dangerous experiences sailing in rough seas/weather with a boat not up to par, I want to make sure to buy a boat that is very solid, which can take whatever hard weather/waves the Great Lakes can throw at it.
Question: Based on experience, does anyone have any recommendations for sailboats that will and will not fulfill these criteria? Am I looking for a "Coastal" cruiser or a "Blue Water" boat?
Specifics: My research so far suggests that Island Packets and C&Cs are good. Cabor Ricos also sounds good, but maybe overkill for the Great Lakes? Or not? Also, I specifically want to know whether a Catalina 36 would be solid and safe in bad weather or not. I really would rather be safe than sorry.
Thanks for the help.
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Old 03-01-2013, 23:39   #2
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Re: csmith22

Welcome to the forum.

While the Great Lakes can have some pretty nasty weather, they are small enough that you are never more than 12 hours from shelter. Unless you are the kind that ignores the weather forecasts, a coastal cruiser should work just fine.

Every boat is a compromise, so the boats which are built like tanks tend not to sail very well. The bigger the boat, the better it will handle higher winds and seas, but the more skill it takes to dock it singlehanded. From 60 years of sailing, I know that most scary/dangerous experiences are due to the sailor, not the boat.

If you only emphasize the comfort of the boat in heavy weather, you may end up with a boat which requires you to motor most everywhere. I would not hesitate to take a well maintained Catalina 36 to Hawaii, Personally, I think that C&C's are good, but Island Packets don't sail very well and are overpriced. There are also Pearsons, Beneteaus, Cals, Odays--literally hundreds of boats which will suit your purpose.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:54   #3
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Re: csmith22

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, csmith22.
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Old 04-01-2013, 04:29   #4
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Re: csmith22

You don't mention what your budget is. If cost is no object, then Hallberg Rassy made, until recently, a 31, the only high end yard to make such small boats AFAIK. They're real beauties; have a look: Hallberg-Rassy 31. Designed by German Frers, one of the great designers.

If cost is a factor, like it is for most sailors, then I would suggest you look at newish mass produced boats like Hunter, Jeanneau, Beneteau, etc. These boats are specifically designed for this kind of sailing. You will get more sailing and less headaches by buying something not more than 4-5 years old. I personally prefer the French boats -- I think a lot more engineering go into them than other mass produced boats -- but that's a matter of taste. It's a bit like Ford versus Chevy -- which is better? Everyone has his own answer to questions like that.

You got really good advice from Don Radcliffe above. For sailing mostly weekends in the Great Lakes, you don't want a tank. You want a boat which is fast, points well, and is fun to sail. With experience you will find that any modern sailboat does just fine in a sudden summer squall, if you know what to do. And other than a sudden summer squall, there is no reason in the world for you to be out in really bad weather on the Great Lakes -- you'll never be too far from land to avoid it.

Good luck with your search and let us know how it turns out.
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Old 04-01-2013, 04:37   #5
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Re: csmith22

Welcome aboard! You seem on the right track, and on the Lakes you can usually avoid sailing in bad weather by staying in harbor when the forecast is bad...it's a good way to keep your crew happy! Good luck with the search, and see you on the water!
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Old 04-01-2013, 05:02   #6
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Welcome to CF...
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:27   #7
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Re: csmith22

donradcliffe: Many thanks for the very helpful input. I do not deny that my dangerous situations had much more to do with my sailing judgement (teenage adventure seeking) than the boat. Your logic makes total sense. Thanks.
Dockhead: Thanks, too. I am less constrained by budget than many, but of course prefer to spend less than more, all else... In the end, I don't want to skimp and not get the right thing. I'll check out the Hallberg-Rassey. My research so far suggests that a general choice between a Hunter and a Catalina probably goes to the latter. But I suspect there are Hunter fans who would disagree.
Thanks y'all for the welcome and input.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:29   #8
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Re: csmith22

Another question: Once I narrow down to a boat or few, I understand I need to hire a marine surveyor to inspect it. My question is how to locate a good one. I presume I can figure that out when the time comes, but if anyone has any experienced-based input on that too, I'm all eyes. Thanks.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:22   #9
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Re: csmith22

Welcome to Cf!! A friend I have on here just sold his 80's Hunter 37C (Cherubini) out of Holland Michigan. I was really impressed with it, the cutter rig is really nice, he had auto-pilot and he single-handed it alot. I really liked the layout, with capt cabin, and a bath that had a sep. shower. The costs usually run 20 to 30 boat bucks, in good condition. Not sure your budget, but I was impressed with this one...my 2 cents.
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Old 04-01-2013, 15:54   #10
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Re: csmith22

Don't discount the Hunters. We just finished our 6th season on Goergian Bay with a 2005 Hunter 33. I regularly day-sail with 4-6, weekend with 2-4 and have done 2 weeks with 2 of us and couldn't be happier.

I've been out in weather that has buried the bow in the waves and didn't blink an eye. I can stand at the helm and have jib sheets and traveller at hand. Reefing is quick and easy with in-mast furling. I can get 6.5 knots in 15 knot winds, towing a dinghy and fully loaded with gear, water etc. etc. for a weekend.
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Old 04-01-2013, 16:10   #11
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Re: csmith22

scottb: many thanks. good to know.
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Old 04-01-2013, 16:26   #12
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Re: csmith22

Check out the boats at the boat shows or go check out several boats that are listed for sale. The Hunters, Catalinas, Bene's etc. will all handle what you may get into on the Great Lakes. Yes the s*#t may hit the fan, but, the weather forecasting etc. is such that you should see it coming and head for shelter or not go out in the first place.

For us, it came down to the interior layout and comfort. For me it was being able to single hand while guests and my wife relaxed and enjoy the ride. I/we were in a similar situation. I sailed smaller boats, crewed on a CS33 in weekly club races then when we could afford one of our own, went for the H33. My only regret was not going bigger.
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Old 05-01-2013, 00:12   #13
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Re: csmith22

I just surveyed a 36' Hallberg-Rassy in New York City last month. Was a great sailboat. I actually have a video of the survey (sea trial) on You Tube via my website. A very well bulit sailboat.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:52   #14
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Re: welcome aboard

A little optimistic maybe?

I have seen time and time again that most people like the pastoral aspect of sailing, but when it comes down to actually sailing . . . forget it.
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