I apologize in advance for the length. Jeez, I guess I ramble. For those with ADD, feel free to skip the background info. :-)
I've been spending a good deal of time on sailnet the last two months, lurking and learning. And I think I'm getting closer to deciding what my first boat should be. Now that I have a clearer idea what I'd like to do, I'd like to elicit advice from sailnetters.
First, a bit of background. I'm 42, single, live in Indianapolis, in decent shape (if you don't count memory). My experience in sailing thus far has been sailing Sunfish and the occasional Buccaneer on small inland lakes. Great fun, but I wanted something different.
A little over a year ago, I decided I wanted more, but wasn't sure where that would take me. I took a week-long liveboard course on a Pearson 39 in the San Juan Islands to get my ASA 101-104. Best day on that trip was the first... complete with small craft advisory, reefing, and heaving-to to let a tanker pass. Very cool. I was hooked.
So when I joined sailnet a couple months ago, I thought perhaps the best way to was jump in with both feet, sell the house, and move south to live aboard. The short of it is that that's probably not in the cards right now for personal reasons.
Because I live in the middle of Indiana, I began searching for a trailer sailer to sail locally. For some reason, I never really considered buying a larger boat and keeping it on Lake Michigan. I saw the combination of cost and distance as limiting factors. But after having lunch with a buddy here in Indy who regularly sails on Lake Michigan, I'm thinking that sounds like an awfully good idea.
Now I need your help to see if I'm thinking in the right direction. Here are my thoughts.
My goal is to buy a boat that I can keep moored on Lake Michigan (~3hr drive) and spend every other weekend sailing. I'd want to do some cruising up into Wisconsin and/or Michigan for a week or two at a time. (I have a web development business, so I can work remotely if I plan these trips well. It'd be liveaboard lite.)
I'd be single-handing a majority of the time. My preference is definitely cruising and exploring, not racing. I'd probably lean toward comfort over performance.
I've been looking at Catalina, Pearson, Ericson, and Sabre in the 25-28' range.
In terms of budget, it'd be nice to stay at around $10k. I realize I'm going to be getting an older boat for that price. I'd rather look at what the best boat is for me and then determine whether I can afford it, rather than set an exact amount and get a disappointment. If you say I need to spend $15k, I'll look at that and find a way. I'll give up Klondike bars... for life.
I'm opening up my search range into Chicago, southern Michigan, and southern Wisconsin. My thought there being that I'd hire (or bribe) an experienced captain to help me sail it down to northern Indiana, learning the boat and lake as I go. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm really looking forward to it.
Shew, if you're still with me, and you want to tell me whether I'm barking up the right tree, I'd appreciate all comments... recommended boats, practicality, etc.