Help choosing my first boat
I am new to the world of sailing, in my mid-50's and am asking for help in choosing a first and hopefully last boat. I am wanting to take sailing lessons (US Sailing) in the Chicago area, but due to my schedule, I will need to take private lessons. My preference would be to take lessons in my own boat. I am a former Navy jet pilot and have a grasp of the idea of lift created by the wind / sails, etc., but am totally ignorant of the sailing side of things. I've never sailed at all - not even a sunfish. I'm putting my 1971 Corvette up for sale and once it sells, I'm in the market for my first boat, up to @ $20,000. What I am wanting to avoid is buying a different boat for each level of proficiency that I reach. My sailing goals are limited to a large reservoir 30 min. from my home, with possibly doing some overnight sailing on Lake Michigan during vacations. I am needing to trailer a boat each and every time that I sail (because I'm too cheap to rent a slip) and therefore, need a good sized boat that can be trailered, with a shallow enough draft for lake sailing. I will probably be doing some solo-sailing and would also like to be able to have a solution for getting the mast up by myself and getting the boat in and out by myself as well. I am landlocked in north central Indiana and not surrounded by yacht clubs or alot of sailboats. From what I have gleaned on my own, here is my initial thinking - am I close?
- I think I need something with a swing keel for lake sailing (?)
- I think that I need to keep the length at 26' or less in order to trailer it (?)
- I prefer to avoid going the Sunfish / DaySailer route unless I need to (?)
- I prefer a cabin cruiser 22'-26' with a trailer and hopefully some kind of a mast system so that I can handle it by myself when needed
- Brand names that seem to be appealing are: Hunter, O'Day, MacGregor.