Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Central New York
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As someone who has done something similar here are my thoughts. FYI, I did this with a 2003 Hunter 260. It's water ballasted with a swing keel and enclosed head.
I did a trip from Chicago to northern Lake Michigan and it took me about a month exactly, I stopped to smell the roses so to speak, several times. All in all, I would happily do it again. Most aspects of the trip were perfectly fine. The swing keel gives you almost unlimited choices for marinas or anchorages, mine is under 2ft draft when raised. The interior IS cramped but with some careful planning it is easily managed. My boat had a 20gal fresh water tank and I also carried another 20gals in portable tanks. Looking back, being in fresh water, that was overkill and the additional space would have been more helpful. You'll have to decide for yourself though.
The head was an area of concern for me. To be frank, no matter what, on a 25-27ft boat an enclosed head is just plain cramped. Taking a dump in one, while underway, SUCKS! But it is doable.
Storage is probably different for every boat but on mine it was no problem. I was able to store all the tools I needed in my lazarettes or down below. None of it was hard to reach either but this an area where forethought can save you some headache. Take some time to think about what your likely to need most often and keep those items in the easiest places to access. For instance I kept most of my screws/nuts/bolts/cotter pins, spare line, tools, flair/rescue kit in the port side lazarette and things like drills and electrical stuff down below. Just take some time and think about these things on your shorter jaunts to help you prepare for your longer ones.
Food, for me, was easy. I if I never have another bowl of ramon noodles, it will be too soon! I bought plastic containers to help keep things like bread and cookies and cereal fresh. and then tried to eat things, like ramon noodles that would last me without need to be kept cool. This brings me to the issue of cooling food for storage. The stock cooler that came with my boat was simply not big enough. I used it and another cooler, a 60qt coleman, for mostly drinks and the occasional left-over from a restaurant or the rare times I have cold cuts on-board. I also bought more ice than I would need and kept the extra covered up in the dingy, I really really hate warm drinks except coffee. Kind of a pita but still workable. By the way towing your dingy is a great way to increase storage.
Finally, the sailing. Man what a friggen blast it was to be cruising and going pretty much where ever the hell I wanted! Awesome! In a small boat you do have to be somewhat more conscious of the weather. I listened to the NOAA weather voice so much he was almost like my buddy. I did find that occasionally the wind wasn't quite what was foretasted and my range decreased as a result. Sometimes leaving me without anywhere to stay for the night. In a small boat this can be fun or it can suck. Planning will decide which.
If you want to do this, I say terrific! Go do it! There is a group out of Ft Lauderdale that sails 260's and Mac 26x's (among others) to Bimini every year. I can remember their name but you should be able to find them via google. As I said, I had a blast and I cannot wait until I can do it again. I have done a month on Mich and a month on Ontario. Loved each and every minute of it.
My last bit of advice would be to find the owners association of whatever boat you chose and find out what things are likely to break/wear and then stock up on replacements. Also go over the boat with a fine tooth comb for the same reason. It's not as hard you might think. It would really blow to have a trip stopped because some small piece if out of stock.
Any other questions feel free to ask here or via PM. Or you can ignore this too LOL. Anyway, fair winds my man! Enjoy.
Oh and to the naysayers... Attitude: it's the difference between ordeal and adventure.
2003 Hunter 260
"Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester while loading his boat with gin.
WORK IS OVER-RATED