Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?
Indeed, the weather on the Great Lakes can produce some rough conditions, but my experience has shown that more times than not (in the summer) you'll be trying to figure out how to deal with the light air either by better sail trim or motoring.
From Chicago, you could do a non-stop passage of over 250 miles straight up the middle of the lake to someplace like Beaver Island, but one of the best features of cruising the Great Lakes is that you can also make that same journey into a coastal cruise by staying within a few miles of shore and have a port/harbor of refuge available to you just about every 10-20 miles along the shoreline. This is how many folks here cruise and for that, the Cat/Hunt/Bene boats work perfectly. I think you'll also generally find that they are a better value than true bluewater boats in the same condition.
I'm an old salt at heart and long for full keel, double-ended cruisers (think HC33t, Westsail 32, Baba 40, etc.), but until we're ready to leave the lakes for full-time saltier cruising, my practical side wins out and my family gets to enjoy the comfort, space, value and user-friendly nature of our Catalina 34.
Think about your long-term cruising goals. Do they include bluewater passages? Do you intend to leave the Great Lakes? Would you rather cruise up the middle of the Great Lakes with the commercial traffic and have long stretches between ports, or do you prefer to hop your way from harbor to harbor?
In the end, so long as you love your boat and your sailing is limited only by your own knowledge/skill/experience/time and not the boat's ability, there's absolutely nothing wrong having a bluewater boat when you don't "need" it's capabilities most of the time.
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Last edited by kwaltersmi; 06-25-2014 at 09:43 AM.