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catamount 09-08-2004 09:52 AM

Lightning as a Family Daysailer?
We are a family of three; the youngest is going on 7 and is becoming more interested in sailing. We own a Laser (too small to take all three of us) and a San Juan 21 (too big for some of the lakes near us). So we''re contemplating maybe adding another boat -- a daysailer that''s performs well, can accommodate the family and maybe a guest or two on an outing, and can easily be launched on a shallow ramp for a quick afternoon sail. Budget is always a consideration; we do have experience with "project" boats (both the Laser and the San Juan 21!) and would consider a restoration project, or even building our own.

While racing is not a top priority for us right now, we have none-the-less benefitted from the active class associations for both the Laser and the San Juan 21. The Yacht Club on the small lake nearest to us has a small fleet of Lightnings (as well as a larger fleet of Sunfishes).

So what about the Lightning? It looks like an interesting boat. Would it meet our needs? It''s available in a wide range of ages, conditions, and cost, and one can even purchase building plans and instructions.

Are there other boats that we ought to consider?



Silmaril 09-08-2004 11:17 AM

Lightning as a Family Daysailer?
Look no further! The lightning is the quinessential family daysailer. You can do no wrong in getting one. The longevity of the Sparkman & Stephens design alone (it was penned in 1938!) and the number of boats built (over 15,000) should testify to its ability to please all levels of sailors.

One step down from the Lightning is it''s little sister, the Blue Jay. Basically a lightning in 3/4 scale. It may be a bit cramped for more than 3 at a time though.

Both are easy to sail, with the Lightning adding more sophisticated sail handling systems.

Either are my personal favirites in that class of boat.

garyp 09-08-2004 09:43 PM

Lightning as a Family Daysailer?
My earliest memories are of family outings on the Mississippi River in a Lightning. It is a wonderful boat (especially a wooden one.) Stable, forgiving, yet capable of offering a racing challenge; one of the greatest boats for all time.

Sailmc 09-09-2004 04:36 AM

Lightning as a Family Daysailer?
The Lightning if it is fitted out to race as most of them are is not a very comfortable boat. All the good places to sit have hardware on them. The few times I''ve raced on them I''ve come home bruised. A better boat of the same size for family sailing would be the Flying Scott. Much better suited to your purpose.

paulk 09-12-2004 04:34 PM

Lightning as a Family Daysailer?
Go for the Lightning. The cockpit is big enough to allow the kids to invite friends, and the existing fleet will provide boats for you to buy AND a market if you decide to sell later. Racing can be a good way to meet new friends and keep daysails from becoming boring to soon-to-be-teenagers. The large sail area is great for keeping moving when the wind is light, and stunning performance if it picks up (planing with just the main&jib is a real trip!!) The hard-chine hull provides excellent initial stability, so you have enough time to react to puffs (or lulls) that lakes are notorious for. (Round-chined dinghies tend to be crewed by guys in wetsuits.)

I''ve found Lightnings very comfortable to crew on because of the seats inboard (use the coaming for a backrest), the wide side decks (don''t cut off circulation) and the nice, flat foredeck. (great for stretching out in the shade of the jib if there''s no breeze), Lightnings are also beautiful to look at. Few boats that will meet your needs so easily can make that claim as well.

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