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Old 02-15-2010
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Good beginner crusing grounds?

I've been lake sailing for 7 years on and off on various sized boats and consider my self average in experiance. The wife and I were talking with another couple about doing a "cheap" cruise on the coast with our boat (Catalina 25 swing keel). We rolled the idea around of going down to the keys, drop in at Miami and make our way down over aweek or so. While that still doesn't seem bad I feel since I'm not completly use to alot of "traffic" on the water it may be a bad place to start, also it's about 16 hours away from Ohio pulling a large boat.

So I was wondering what other places people would recomend for a week sail in July? I would be docked or on a mooring most of the time so afordable marinas would be nice. The boat draws 5' down but only 2' with the board up, I rarely have it up though.

Edit: I had thought about lake erie but the wife loves warm water
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Old 02-15-2010
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Two places I'd suggest, Long Island Sound and Chesapeake Bay. Both places have lots of neat places to visit and practice your cruising skills. The water is not too cold for comfort, at least to this old New Englander.
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Old 02-15-2010
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I'll add a plug for North Carolina - the sailing is good, and the bottom is mostly mud and soft sand, so it's relatively forgiving. With a 5-foot draft you'd have no problem. The Pamlico Sound offers the feeling of being on a large body of water while still being somewhat protected. It can however build a steep chop in strong winds because of the long fetch over shallow water.

There are a variety of coastal communities to visit, including Ocracoke Island, which really should be on everybody's must-visit list; Washington, which has put a lot into sprucing up its waterfront offerings for boaters; and Oriental, which has a strong sailing contingent; among others. There's also the Beaufort/ Morehead City area and Cape Lookout Bight, which is a beautiful spot to visit. The waters are not overly crowded, so the boat traffic shouldn't make you uncomfortable.
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Old 02-15-2010
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While you may not want a great lake, I am recalling on michigan an area with lots of islands to poke around etc. This in reality might be easier than a salt water environment initially. As depending upon what saltwater area you are, tides can get fun. Here in Puget Sound, 12-14' changes can occur, with lows int he 2-4' range.

You might also toy with a charter for a week too. Might be easier and cost equal to pulling your boat to the east coast or equal if you want warmer climates.

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Old 02-15-2010
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OK - I'll chime in for Lake Erie. The water warms good by mid summer but it's no Florida or Bahamas. (However - the thought of Florida in July is not a pleasant one). The Islands around Sandusky are very nice to sail and visit and there are plenty of harbors and anchorages to suit any need. But don't be misled - Erie is big water and can get as ugly as any - especially on the West end. Would be a great place to work on your traffic issues and navigation skills too. If you still want to go south - there is a nice charter place in Marathon (keys) that has decent deals on their boats. That would beat hauling the 25 so far and spending most of your time towing and launching the boat.
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Getting your boat to the Keys would be a real drag. All the other suggestions will feature cool water, but they otherwise make a lot of sense. The western shore of Lake Michigan has lots of places to explore. Les Cheneaux are fun to pot hole around, and of course Makinac is worth looking at. You would be very smart to plan on spending every third night ashore in a nice motel with unlimited warm water showers, etc. Treting your lady like a princess will make future trips easier to sell.
You might make double plans. Plan a trip on your boat, and simultaneously monitor charter companies sites for last minute deals. You might come up with an affordable trip to one of the islands at the last minute. Doing the planning as a group will quickly let you know what the wife is thinking about, and you can be guided by her desires.
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Chesapeake Bay, too many destinations both town and anchorages to mention in this post. Mud or sand bottom, pretty scenery, quiet towns or big cities all within a days, or less, sail.
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SecondWind- Pamlico sound is one of the places I was considering, remote and relaxed. Exactly what I'm the mood for.

Blt2Ski- If I went to the great lakes I would probably stick with Lake Erie, sandusky area. I would be interested in chartering but if I did that I would want to bareboat, not fool with paying a captain and all the extra stuff. Until I get a chance to take the 103 and 104 classes it seems like there are very few charter places out there that would cater to me.

Bakerha51- put-in-bay/kellys island is the area I was considering if I went that rout, seems to have the atmosphere that the wife would enjoy.

I'll run a few by the other couple and see what their take is on them. I appreciate all the suggestions
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Off the wall suggestion

Could you get a roro car ferry to the Bahamas, propably too pricey even if they exist but great cruising once you get there.
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Get some cruising guides!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filmsomething View Post
SecondWind- Pamlico sound is one of the places I was considering, remote and relaxed. Exactly what I'm the mood for.

Blt2Ski- If I went to the great lakes I would probably stick with Lake Erie, sandusky area. I would be interested in chartering but if I did that I would want to bareboat, not fool with paying a captain and all the extra stuff. Until I get a chance to take the 103 and 104 classes it seems like there are very few charter places out there that would cater to me.

Bakerha51- put-in-bay/kellys island is the area I was considering if I went that rout, seems to have the atmosphere that the wife would enjoy.

I'll run a few by the other couple and see what their take is on them. I appreciate all the suggestions
All of the suggestions are good. I like the Chesapeake for many reasons: lots of towns to see, always somewhere to hide from weather, and beaches and such many places (more so in the mid to lower Bay). Also, far less risk of a huricane screwing up your plans. Yes, they happen very rarely, but only ruin a few days of sailing. You just hide in a marina.

There is some stuff on my blog.
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