Looking to buy our first sail boat, your opinions/expertise are wanted
My wife and I are relatively new to sailing, but we have been around water as far back as we can remember, and we want to purchase our own boat this year.
I've been sailing on/off with friends (and who ever else might need a crew) for ~5 years, getting more seriously in to it the past 2 years. I am getting comfortable on a sail boat, and feel that I am just a little ways away of being very comfortable on my own boat.
My wife is quite green, but took beginner sailing lessons last year, and she is feeling very comfortable now.
I love where we live in NE IL/SE WI, but the sailing season here is just too short. I don't want to stick a ton of money in to something that I can only use for 6 months out of the year (if we're lucky), but I have no problem in spending the money to get something reliable and in good shape.
We have sailed everything from 20' boats to 36' boats, and a few boats in between, and we had fun on all size boats.
We will be sailing 100% on Lake Michigan, which as most of you probably now, can kick up very quickly. It's not like sailing off-shore in the ocean, but it can get hairy very quick, so we need something that tracks great and is stable even in rough weather.
I'm writing this post so that I can hear from you experienced folks two things...1) what is the best size range of boat for our criteria below, 2) please list your top 5 to 10 proven boats for reliability (hull and general equipment) --- brands and models would be appreciated.
Criteria for our boat will be:
*Up to 6 adults on board at one time
*We will be using the boat primarily for day sailing, but 25% of the use will be for overnight trips of 1 to 3 nights, and 10% of the use will be for overnight trips to 4 nights or more with 4 adults
*Relatively comfortable accomodations in cabin
*Decent racer to participate in club races --- nothing major, but something that will keep up with the rest of the boats out there
*We would like to stay <$20k to leave room in our budget for upgrades, but if we can get a boat for $10k we would be thrilled
If I need to post any other desired details, please let me know.