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CorsairA7E 06-30-2009 10:08 PM

Help choosing my first boat
I am new to the world of sailing, in my mid-50's and am asking for help in choosing a first and hopefully last boat. I am wanting to take sailing lessons (US Sailing) in the Chicago area, but due to my schedule, I will need to take private lessons. My preference would be to take lessons in my own boat. I am a former Navy jet pilot and have a grasp of the idea of lift created by the wind / sails, etc., but am totally ignorant of the sailing side of things. I've never sailed at all - not even a sunfish. I'm putting my 1971 Corvette up for sale and once it sells, I'm in the market for my first boat, up to @ $20,000. What I am wanting to avoid is buying a different boat for each level of proficiency that I reach. My sailing goals are limited to a large reservoir 30 min. from my home, with possibly doing some overnight sailing on Lake Michigan during vacations. I am needing to trailer a boat each and every time that I sail (because I'm too cheap to rent a slip) and therefore, need a good sized boat that can be trailered, with a shallow enough draft for lake sailing. I will probably be doing some solo-sailing and would also like to be able to have a solution for getting the mast up by myself and getting the boat in and out by myself as well. I am landlocked in north central Indiana and not surrounded by yacht clubs or alot of sailboats. From what I have gleaned on my own, here is my initial thinking - am I close?
- I think I need something with a swing keel for lake sailing (?)
- I think that I need to keep the length at 26' or less in order to trailer it (?)
- I prefer to avoid going the Sunfish / DaySailer route unless I need to (?)
- I prefer a cabin cruiser 22'-26' with a trailer and hopefully some kind of a mast system so that I can handle it by myself when needed
- Brand names that seem to be appealing are: Hunter, O'Day, MacGregor.

night0wl 07-01-2009 01:28 AM

Cant lose with a Catalina 250 water ballast. A little above your price range new...but used are pretty good in the $20k range.

mygoggie 07-01-2009 04:34 AM

There are a lot of things to mention, but utmost of all important things is that you must fall in love when you set foot on her. If you do not get that feeling, then she is not yours.

Also remember a rule that I learned. Once you made a list of items to be fixed on your proposed boat, then you times the estimated money and time by three and you should be very close to your final values.

Lastly, sailing is almost 100% like flying, so you will pick it up very quickly if you are a fly by the seat of your pants pilot. The theory is the same, just the aerodynamic planes are vertical instead of horisontal.

Half the fun of owning a boat is finding the one you want - take your time and enjoy!!

Blessed sailing!

CorsairA7E 07-04-2009 08:53 AM

Stepping up
Due to my lack of experience and waiting on my Vette to sell, I bought a 14' Javelin by O'Day. I live across the road from a smaller reservoir and plan to take lessons and practice close by the house. Next spring, I'm looking at trying to buy a used MacGregor 26M or X, depending on the finances. Thanks for your input.

mygoggie 07-04-2009 09:39 AM

Congrats! Very nice boat to start learning on.

Here is a www if you want to do some repair work on her The O'Day Javelin Project

Enjoy the sailing!

CorsairA7E 07-04-2009 07:21 PM

Thanks! I'm in the process of getting a trolling motor and trying to find a sailing school nearby. Unfortunately, Indiana isn't known for alot of great places to sail. It looks like I'll have to drive 3-4 hours one way (to north Chicago) just to take lessons.

sailingfool 07-05-2009 11:02 AM

54 Attachment(s)
S2 makes/made the only quality trailerable boats, fortunately for you they are very popular and common in th emid-west. The 7.9 is particularly sweet:
S2 7.9 Class web page

The boats you mentioned are typical first-time-buyer boats, you can use one to develop some knowledge and then move onto a quality boat like an S2, or you can skip the training boat.

jephotog 07-05-2009 11:04 AM

Hi Corsair,
Seems like you have gotten a good start with a good day sailor at least it can get you on the water to start learning. I have been a sailor for 20 years off and on and it has always been a huge passion for me, even when i am away from the water. I have been a pilot for 9 years professionally for most of those. When I was a student pilot I hitched a ride on a J92 during a race with a fun crew, turned out the owner was a airplane pilot, helo pilot and A&P for US customs. We became good friends, and both love flying but it is just a job, sailing is a whole lot more fun. It might be different if I got the kind of planes you did.

For the type of sailing you are looking at I would suggest visiting the website. While the # of people and breadth of experience here is far greater that site is more geared towards the kind of boats and sailing you are looking to do. I know at least two people from there live in IN.

You will be surprised at the number of sailors around everywhere. If you can hook up with someone you could get a few lessons, get some books and teach yourself to sail. Once you get a bigger boat you can then take a class to learn to reef, dock and anchor the boat which is where it gets trickier when you are learning.

If you do not live near the water fix up and keep the dingy for short little day excursions, also they can be a lot more fun just to get out when the wind is right. For a bigger boat I would suggest a Catalina 25, much better sailor than a Mcgregor. Seems like the best all around boat for the money. Decent performance, decent build, very good space below for a boat this size. Most anything in this size will need at least a 1/2 ton pickup this will need a 3/4 ton for this one.

We are looking at two fin keel C25s ready to sail for $5-6K. You could buy a boat like this and a truck with your budget. In your price range you should look at the 88-89 wing keel as they are best equipped and sit low on the trailer and are easier to launch. In the mean time enjoy the dingy sailing.

MtHopeBay 07-06-2009 11:57 PM


Originally Posted by CorsairA7E (Post 502655)
Thanks! I'm in the process of getting a trolling motor and trying to find a sailing school nearby. Unfortunately, Indiana isn't known for alot of great places to sail. It looks like I'll have to drive 3-4 hours one way (to north Chicago) just to take lessons.

You sound like a sharp guy and could probably figure it out without formal lessons. Get a beginner's book like US Sail's "Start Sailing Right" and after reading that, practice on land. Hoist sails and learn what all your rigging does. Go out on the water in your boat. Make sure you always wear your pfd. Get away from obstacles and shore, point into the wind and hoist the main. Don't even hank on the jib until you master the main.

Best bet might be to put an ad in the paper, Craigslist or something similar for your area and see if there's somebody in the area who knows how to sail and will go out with you.

Plan to capsize that boat so do it and practice righting and bailing. It's an important part of dingy sailing.

It would be a shame not to do it just because lessons are so far away.

CorsairA7E 07-13-2009 03:40 PM

Basic Sailing 101 completed
I drove up to Chicago to take their Basic Sailing 101 course (Chicago Sailing - 4 hours of private lessons). I completed it, enjoyed it, and have been given a 50# thrust trolling motor that I'll be getting this Thursday. I'm planning on getting my Javelin in the water for the first time on Friday! Thanks again for all of the input. Since I live right across the road from a smaller reservoir and can get to the boat ramp in 5 minutes, I will probably keep the 14' Javelin for quicker outings and try to pick up a Catalina 25 WB or equivalent next season. When I finally select a larger boat, I will then take additional private lessons for the Keelboat certification and take it from there.

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