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  #1  
Old 07-01-2013
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NEW Sailor, needing boat advice for fam

Hey there-

I've been reading posts and reviews all over the "google-world" for several weeks and finally signed up on Sailnet today...seems like people are glad to help. I live in North Dakota and am looking for something for family cruising Lake Sakakawea (hopefully you know your geography a bit and know this is a fresh water lake). Our family is me, my wife, and 3 young kids. We also have friends with extensive sailing experience willing to help us on our way to learn to sail.

There's not a lot of boats in the area with little sailing options, but I have found a 1989 O'Day 240 and a 1984 Macgregor 25 nearby. We're looking for a fun, family cruiser with possibilities of some "camping on the water." The O'Day is a wing keep, the MacGregor is a swing-keel. It's most likely we'll have it trailered due to slip costs, but we'd have it stored in a lot right across from the loading ramp so other than launching the boat, travel is not much of an issue.

If you think of questions for me on use or info on the boats, I'm glad to have the conversation so "you" can help "me" choose wisely.

Thanks for any input, help, and replies. I'm obsessing on this stuff so love any conversation you have for us.

Keep Wanderin'
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Re: NEW Sailor, needing boat advice for fam

*wing keel
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Old 07-01-2013
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Re: NEW Sailor, needing boat advice for fam

What I know about the Oday 240 can be kept in a thimble... except that it's a nicely large 24 footer, heavy in the water, and quite stable. If your local lake has decent winds, it'll be a great cruiser... the cockpit size is given up some for cabin space, but the layout is decent, probably get 4 friendly adults and the skipper in the cockpit.

The Mac (26x I stretch to assume, they make the 26S and 26M), has a very large open cabin, and the cockpit is slightly tighter than the 240. Of course the advantage with the Mac is the swing keel, and water ballast, to more easily trailer. If (again) you are looking at the motor-sailor, of course you can treat it like a motorboat, and buzz around the lake, with some speed.

If you are talking the Mac 26s, it's actually a decent sailing swing keel larger trailerable. The owners of such seem to like them, but it's a different animal than the 26x, or m. It's lighter and better in performance than the 240 (or the 26x). If you have frequent light winds, this might be your choice (digging through craigslist in Bismark, it looks like there are 2 listed 26s models).

Careful though, opinions are strong with regard to the Mac. Honestly I don't have much of an opinion one way or another, it fills a niche and seems to have decent build quality. My neighbor has one, and he isn't a racer, but seems to get the most out of his boat of anyone in the club (with dual solar panels, every electronic gadget known, wheel steering, cockpit table, LCD TV down below, rail mounted Magma grill, full galley, walk in head, and room to sleep 4 Adults comfortable, likely 2 kids as well).

I'd say, Oday for heavy marina based launches, and Mac if you plan to mostly trailer sail.

But people confuse "boat size" with ability to get more people in the cockpit. Boats from 18 even to 30 feet, seem to have about the same size cockpits... giving in to larger cabins with length. Put thought into how many people will "sail" with you, versus how many will "overnight" on the boat with you. Most people don't want to spend much time below while sailing (kids perhaps some, but most don't). Example the 26S probably has the biggest cockpit of the 3 mentioned above. My old Capri 22, had a bigger cockpit than any of those (but the cabin is sparse). Heck my Capri 25 has an almost 9 foot cockpit (but has basically nothing below).

I'd keep my focus on the shape of the boat (how much money it'll take to get the boats in sailing condition).
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Last edited by SHNOOL; 07-01-2013 at 08:41 AM.
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Re: NEW Sailor, needing boat advice for fam

Thanks for the input Schnool-The Mac I've been looking at is advertised as a Mac 25'...so not sure on model. I've only viewed it on the internet, never in person.

Thanks again
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Old 07-01-2013
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Re: NEW Sailor, needing boat advice for fam

I'm with Shnool, the first thing to try to figure out are your priorities and your intended use case. Will you be trailering or keeping her at a dock? If trailering, what kind of tow vehicle do you have? The Mac is going to be much lighter than the O'Day, which makes it much easier to transport. But trailering can be a pain, especially with kids (I have 2 boys, ages 7 and 5). It takes time (30-90 minutes, depending on the boat and how much you're able to "automate" and are willing to invest in the automation) to rig the boat before you launch, and about the same time to break the boat down again before you can leave. Are your kids patient enough to handle that time?

Assuming your car/truck/SUV/pick-up/etc. can handle a boat and trailer's weight (add on an extra 500-1000 lbs for engine, gear, supplies, etc.), and assuming you're OK with the time element of setting up the boat (or if you're going to keep her at a slip or rigged on the trailer at the marina), then you can move on to the configuration of the boat itself, and how you'll use it on a daily basis. Will you be overnighting, or just daysailing? If you're overnighting, you'll need a boat that has, or can be made to have, sleeping capacity for your family. In some cases, you can cut sheets of plywood to span the port and starboard settees and, with the addition of an inflatable mattress, you can get a nearly queen-size bed in there, which is pretty nice, especially if your kids will fit in the other available bunks. If you're planning on overnighting on the boat, I'd prioritize the size of the cabin over the size of the cockpit because a good bit of your time aboard will be spent while the boat is at rest.

By contrast, if you're going to primarily daysail, I'd prioritize the size of the cockpit, because you will primarily be using the boat while she's in motion. When you're aboard to inspect the boats, sit down in the cockpit with the tiller in your hand. Make sure you are far enough forward that you can comfortably move the tiller. Now position your family so you can move the tiller from side to side without hitting anyone. Do they all fit comfortably? Do you have enough room for the kids to grow some before they aren't comfortable?

Next comes the safety factor. Are there lifelines and a stern rail? Are they an appropriate height/shape to allow your family to be safe? How is the visibility when you're sitting at the helm? Can your kids help steer and actually see forward while doing it (mine couldn't on our Catalina 25).

When our C25 was totaled, the issues above weighed heavily in our selection process for our "next" boat. In the end, we realized that we wanted a boat with a wheel (can't hit your kids in the head with it, unlike a tiller...and yes, I'm embarrassed to admit I've done that), and with a cockpit that was big enough for all 4 of us plus at least one or two more guests (our parents come along several times a year). It is VERY tough to find a wheel-steered boat in the 22-27' range. Some of the newer Hunters have 'em, as do some Mac's, and some C27's have them too, but many of them were out of our price range. A Hunter 28.5 is a nice boat that fit our needs, as would a Catalina 30. If the Mac has a wheel, as much as the wheel reduces your ability to "feel" the water and slows your reaction time (it's much faster to shove a tiller than to turn a wheel), you may find that it's ultimately more enjoyable than the O'Day with a tiller.

In the end, only you can decide what your priorities are, but hopefully the above will give you some things to think about. Ultimately, go for the boat that is in the best structural shape that comes closest to meeting your needs/wants.
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Old 07-03-2013
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Re: NEW Sailor, needing boat advice for fam

Couple quick thoughts:

Mac made a 25'er for awhile. I think it morphed into the 26D/S, then into the powersailers we know. The Oday is not familiar to me, but they have a rep as pleasant boats & that has been my experience in the smaller sizes.

Water ballasted boats are easy to tow, and they can be perfectly adequate in ultimate stability, but they are also famous for being tender -- that is, they go from flat to 45* heel real quick. Then they 'harden up.' That's in issue in places like the Dakotas (or Wyoming, where I live.) It's also an issue with family. Takes a while for everyone to become comfortable with heeling. Substantial lead or cast iron ballast may offer more reassurance.

Along those same lines, make sure any boat you look at has potential for FAST sail reduction, preferably from the cockpit. I'd advise roller furling jib and jiffy reefed main. You can add reef points to the main, if lacking. Roller furling jib will run at least $1000.

You might include Tanzer and Sirius in your search list. Both are common (& very inexpensive) in your region, and both are solid boat names that sail pretty well. Truth is, your first boat is always a blind guess. It exists to teach you what you want in your second boat. So I wouldn't sweat it too much. Find a forgiving ride that fit your family and cash budget, get out on the water, & start making a list of features you want in the next one.
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