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post #1 of 18 Old 09-14-2016 Thread Starter
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Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

Ahoy dear forum members:

1st post after reading your comments for a few months or so.

I took up a basic cruising course in June and joined a Yacht Club in Toronto that offered a coop program consisting of C & C 25s. After completing the course in the spring, I've sailed (skippered my own crew of 2-4) almost 50 times this summer and can confidently say that I'd like to own my own boat sooner rather than later. I just can't believe I waited 40 years to do this.

Though all day sails, I've gone through some relatively rough weather at times, 6-10 foot waves and 30 knots of wind and overall managed very well in the hairiest of conditions on the C & C 25s (thanks to a lot of reading and practice).

Though I feel if things had gotten rougher, a more "beefier" boat would have been preferred.

As I'm beginning to form my own opinions on what my first sailboat should be (even though I've only sailed C&C 25s) I could use your advise on what boat(s) I should focus my search on:

1) Since great lakes can get rough I need something that I can trust when I get caught in rough seas - no problem considering a known bluewater
2) I don't intend to race but don't want a slug either
3) Accommodation for 2-4 (2 comfortably, 4 for day or two)
4) Cost of upkeep and maintenance will play a factor so I'm guessing something between 28-33 feet?
5) budget: $10 - 20k for boat & $5 -10k for upgrades
6) I'm 6' so standing headroom is a must (I got quickly tired of slouching on the C&Cs)

I know there are more factors to consider but in short I want a first boat (not a forever one - just yet) to use for day sails and potential weekened-weeklong cruises with 2-3 more people.

Just not sure if she needs to be bluewater or there are coastal boats that are tough enough (cheaper) that I can spend the next 10 years enjoying and sailing but that can also take a beating.

Thank you in advance and great to be on board!!!
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post #2 of 18 Old 09-14-2016
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I've been a lake Ontario sailor for a long time. At different times I've kept my boat in Toronto, Port Dalhousie and Ganonoque (currently not on the Lake, I'm further down river).

You do not need a blue water boat for lake ontario. In most cases you don't even really need a blue water boat for blue water...

Based on your budget you could get a very nice Grampian 30. I had one I kept on Lake Ontario but sold it a few years ago when I bought my bigger boat.

I would focus on Canadian brands, as most of them were made in the Toronto area with local conditions in mind. A lot of the American built recommendations you get might not be very plentiful around Toronto, except Hunter.

A few things to keep on mind. The Trent Severn Canal is maintained to 6.5 ft. The Murray and Rideau canals a maintained to 5'

What ever you get, I recommend less than 5 feet, or every time you head to the Thousand Islands you'll have to take the outside route past Main Duck, not fun.

I would think a CS 30 would also be a good option.

Beware of much older designs like the Alberg 30, which are fantastic boats, but I think would be really cramped below for a family of 4.

I currently have a 35 and have promised myself many times I will never own a bigger boat. Big boats are a serious PITA in the tight docks on the East end of the lake and thousand Islands.

The more spacious 30's will be fine for 4. The Grampian 30 only has one private cabin for mom and dad, but three beds in the Salon. Quarter birth, side birth and drop down table for the kids, one of them is a double, so up to 4 kids.
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post #3 of 18 Old 09-14-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

Thanks for the great tips re: TS canal Arcb. Grampian 30 is on my long short-list. I really like the boat from what I can tell from pictures.

My biggest concern is for the boat's ability to take heavy weather. Last time i went out made me realize that I'm willing to give up some creature comforts knowing that the boat can handle heavy weather. At least I don't want it to bounce around like the C & C 25s though I know a bigger boat equal a relatively smoother ride.
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Re: Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

To add to Arcb's great list and comments (of which I agree), you could look at Aloha (32 I think), Bayfield 29 or 32, various Bristols, Downeaster 32, Mirage 33. And if you can find one, a Grampian 34 might meet your needs really well. Although they are rare.
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Re: Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

Agree with the CS 30, and even Aloha 32 (though very different boats) as well chosen Canadian boats. The C&C 30 and 32 in their various 'mk' editions would be candidates as well.

I'd say the 'no slugs' requirement removes the Bayfields...

Though rare-ish, I'd add the Ontario 29 to the mix, but given their relative rarity prices might be holding higher. - but if you find a boat that doesn't need 10K in upgrades, that's certainly worth looking at.

Here's a pretty decent list (price limit $25K for kicks)
(Sail) Cruiser Boats For Sale Ontario ON
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post #6 of 18 Old 09-14-2016
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Re: Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

With your $15k to $30k budget, you should be able to find a decent boat in the 30 foot range built in the 80s. You may get lucky and find something good even a bit larger. Boats like the Oday 34 and Catalina 34 are showing up in that price range, and any on the market now have probably been for sale all season and the owner will be flexible. Again these boats are 30 years or more old so condition is everything.
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Re: Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

I do follow Sean and Julia and like the channel a lot. Their bayfield seems a bit too cramped for me but agree that's a great GL channel.

I'd love to get into the 34-37 lengths which I'm not too worried about sailing but more worried about the dockage and long-term maintenance costs. I do however, see myself getting a bigger boat to sail offshore at the current rate of my sailing obsession but I'm projecting that to be 10 years or so out. In the mean time I'm being realistic looking for the smallest boat size that'll do the job.
I'll definitely research the recommended boats....keep them coming.
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Re: Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

Nonsuchs for some reason just don't appeal to me. This is probably purely due my limited knowledge and bias towards what I "think" a sailboat should look like but just can't help it.
What other boats would you say are more boat for less?
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Re: Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

Probably one of the roomiest boats/foot and in your range is the Catalina 30. Pretty good performer, stiff and forgiving. Plenty available everywhere. Good owner support still too.

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post #10 of 18 Old 09-15-2016
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Re: Optimal Boat Size for Lake Ontario and Beyond

In general, newer boats have more space below. Just look at the wide beams and sterns of the current boats. Boats from the 60s were narrow. Boats form the 70s were influenced by the IOR rule which meant pinched sterns and small cockpits. Also racing oriented boats will have less space below. Compare a J29 to a Catalina 30. With your budget, you are probably looking at boats no newer than the 80s. Luckily there are lots of choices of good boats built after the IOR influence faded away.
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