purveyor of mischief
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: in front of my computer, how 'bout you
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i've read through a number of replies, and i am surprised that nobody has asked about your wife's experience on the water; whether you intend to take other folks out sailing with you; or do family/couples outings overnight.
i grew up taking family vacations,sailing the chesapeake bay on a columbia 26, and while 5 people on a 26 foot sailboat can get cramped (mom,dad and the three of us 15/11/7), we enjoyed the experience. all of us were seasoned sailors and each of us loved the sport (ok..mom tolerated it, but the rest of us loved sailing). bottom line quality over quantity (size).
while it appears your budget allows for a wide choice of sailboats, i caution against buying too much boat for your level of experience. practically speaking, docking a 30 foot boat on a calm day can be trying, but putting a 40 footer in a slip with only one additional pair of hands, with a 15 knot breeze (you'll be busy at the wheel..that leaves mrs. mark handling the lines) will be a learning experience, and as long as you handle stressful situations calmly, it will be lots of fun. screaming at the spouse and progeny is not allowed
if i were in your position, i'd be looking at 34 sabres with a keel/cb config. the boats are exceptionally well built, has a roomy cockpit, coachroof mounted traveler (avoid cockpit travelers, especially those mounted right in front of the companionway,as inexperienced sailors might find themselves tangled up in them).
having never sailed the great lakes, my rationale for k/cb boats is simple..you can go places a boat w/ a six foot draft can't.this is a huge plus for those of us that sail on the chesapeake.this may not matter on lake michigan, but shoal draft boats come in handy from time to time (run hard aground when the water temperature is about 45, you'll appreciate this feature.
if you absolutely have to have a 35+ boat, a tartan 37 will do nicely..and you can pick up one in great shape, early 80's vintage for about 75- 80k, same thing for sabres. you'll have a quality boat that is stable, fun to sail and reasonably fast.
if you want a go-fast boat...J boats are the way to go, yet be prepared to give up some creature comforts (check with mrs mark on these). a C and C also gives speed, comfort and is a fun boat to sail. all the aformentioned boats hold their value.
good luck with your search.