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Old 09-15-2009
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Does size matter for your first

Hey all,

My wife tells me size doesn't matter, which makes me want to order some pills from late night commercials, but seriously, I am looking for my first boat, and would like one which is stable, sleeps 4-5 and can go for a weeks cruise with all the associated gear, on the Great Lakes, primarily Erie, Ontario and Huron.

Now honestly, I have only been sailing ten- fifteen times, taken one course, and fell in love- so I am not what you might call an accomplished sailor.
I was thinking of something in the 27-28 range, but there are a lot of 30 footers out there as well, is that too big? ; I would like an inboard too.

So, for safety...first, comfort and speed next, what do you recommend?

Thanks in advance, and Cheers.

Mike G.
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Old 09-15-2009
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Hey Mike
I think a 25to 30 footer would be the right size for what your looking for.

Because of the time of the year you can find great deals that need a little tlc, depending on budget and skill, if you have a boat on the hard for a short time will give the opportunity to learn about the boat and anything else to get out sailing.
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Old 09-15-2009
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Size can matter or not

This is a more complex question than it might appear at first glance. First of all not all boats of the same length are the same size boat. In many ways you might be better to consider the displacement of the boat rather than the LOA when you are thinking about things like carrying capacity, stability and often cost.

Sailors accept the truism that every boat is a compromise between opposing choices: such as speed vs carrying capacity, cost versus quality of construction, the performance that a deep keel gives versus the fact that this type of keel can limit your access to many harbours (especially on the Great Lakes).

You might want to consider establishing a budget, keeping in mind that what matters is the total cost after you the boat equipped the way you want rather than the purchase price. Also think about where you will keep your boat, what size boat (length, beam and draft) can they handle.

It is a complex choice and a beginner is not at all likely to choose a boat that will be a perfect fit for their needs. You might be better off buying something a bit smaller and not very pricey so that you learn about sailing and about what features you really want. In a couple of years you will have a much better idea of what you want, including does size matter (to you and your wife)
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Old 09-15-2009
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First, I would ask what kind of boats you have been sailing for your 10-15 times out. That might give you some ideas about what size feels comfortable for you. If I were you, I would be looking for a late model coastal cruiser such as Catalina, Hunter, etc which will give you a lot of interior space and be easy to sail at the same time. Also, a fin keel boat like that will be easy to dock which seems to be the scary part for most folks. My Catalina 36 handles like an MGB roadster. You get into full keels and such and you will find them much harder to handle under power in close quarters. You seem to have a clear idea of what you want to do which should keep you from buying "too much boat" to start out. Oh, and since you are just starting out, the Hunters & Catalinas sell very quickly if you decide to move up in a few years. Good Luck & have fun,

Mike
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Old 09-15-2009
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Size matters

I'd start out with a Laser. Sail it for a Summer. Great lakes can get hairy in a hurry and if you master those conditions with a small boat, you can sail a big boat. If you start out with a 27' boat, you'll make mistakes and they'll be expensive, dangerous and frightening. Best to learn to sail in something that will punish you for your mistakes, rather than kill you.
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Old 09-15-2009
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Conventional wisdom has usually promoted "start small, learn easy, move on up" but today's sailors don't really seem to be adhering to that philosophy. With a high level of disposable income (either that or ZERO fear of debt) many beginners are starting at 30, 35 and even up to 40 footers for "first boats".

In some cases they may have had chartering experience, but not across the board. It could be argued that with the right gear the differences are not all that great if you ignore cost.

We did it the conventional way, 24, 28, then 40... now we're on the backslide at 35. Do what your confidence and your wallet allow!
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Old 09-15-2009
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I made the same mistakes in my first boat (a 33 footer) than I would've made in a smaller boat, only once docked I got to stand up to pee.

I certainly don't regret it, because dealing with "mid-sized" forces on gear and muscle allowed me to graduate more easily to a 41 footer we own now.

However, you have to determine your use of the boat. I know of some very cozy Grampian 26s that sail...uh...in a stately fashion, but are far more amenable to civilized comforts than my 33 footer, which is practically Spartan. On the other hand, if you are the "cooler and a six pack and a sleeping bag" sort of get-off-the-dock-quickly sailor, an old race boat will give you a fun and instructive ride, presuming it isn't too worn out.
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Old 09-15-2009
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Bigger first boats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Conventional wisdom has usually promoted "start small, learn easy, move on up" but today's sailors don't really seem to be adhering to that philosophy. With a high level of disposable income (either that or ZERO fear of debt) many beginners are starting at 30, 35 and even up to 40 footers for "first boats".

In some cases they may have had chartering experience, but not across the board. It could be argued that with the right gear the differences are not all that great if you ignore cost.

We did it the conventional way, 24, 28, then 40... now we're on the backslide at 35. Do what your confidence and your wallet allow!
It does seem that boat choices are often controlled by budget. We have three sets of friends who are on their first boats - a Sabre 40, a Jeanneau 44, and a Bristol 47.7. The Sabre owners are now looking at a Hylas 49, the Jeanneau couple have tried to buy a Bruckmann 50 and the Bristol owner has gone a different route, he bought a J135 for sailing on days that it is too much trouble to take the big boat out. Different horses for different courses
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Old 09-15-2009
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Hello,

IMHO, I don't think that 5 people and gear will fit in a 28' boat. My second boat was a Newport 28, a standard production cruiser / racer. I bought it because it was the smallest boat that my family of 5 could overnight in (me, my wife, and 3 kids, 5, 8, 11 at the time). The problem was that when you were in sleep mode, there was no room for gear. So you were constantly stepping on things and / or people in order to move around. It was fine for one night, but got old quickly for longer than that.

For a week with 5 people, my 35' O'day is great. Everyone gets a bunk and there is room for gear too.

Regarding learning on a'big' boat, I would prefer to learn on something much smaller, like 22 or under. Docking, leaving the dock, raising, reefing, lowering sail, trimming headsails, etc. all require a lot more skill on a bigger boat. Once you get the hang of it, it's just as easy to sail a bigger boat. BUT, trying to muscle a 12,000 lb. boat to the dock is a lot harder than with a 3000 lb boat.

Good luck,
Barry
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Old 09-15-2009
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Four or five for a week??? 30-35' We have a 32' 12,500# boat two couples for a week would be rough..doable yes but 35'+ would work better. Smaller is easier to sail with 22' being a good size in that it handles well but is stable. Also hitting the dock with a 22' 3000# boat is not as traumatic as hitting it with a 35' 18,000# boat. Lasers are great fun but won't teach you much about handling a larger boat. BTDT.
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