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post #1 of 11 Old 06-05-2015 Thread Starter
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Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.

Hello Sailnet! My name Is Scott and I am a newbie to sailing. I've been interested my entire life but only recently been in a financial place to act on those desire. I'm 30 and I live in the geographic center of Illinois. Which leaves my best sailing option as Lake Michigan. My longterm goal is to quit working and travel until I cannot. Luckily I live in a way that I can pack 30% of my pay away every single week. I have put together about 10,000 dollars that I am interested in buying a boat with on Lake Michigan. Ideally I would just keep it there and drive 2 hours north to it on weekends when I can use it. The job that I am so very fortunate to have doesn't give me much time off for the first year. Which leads me to my boat buying question. Since I wouldn't have a ton of time this year to sail would it be a more wise decision to wait until fall right before boats need to be pulled from the lake? When is the time to get a great deal on sailboats. Specifically on lake Michigan. Is 10,000 a reasonable amount or would it be wise to pack some more away and hit the prime boat buying time with a bit more cash? Next year I'll have about 8 days off plus holidays and the year after I'll have 13 plus holidays. Part of me wants to get on the water right now! But part of me senses that it might be wise to wait. Any tips, tricks or advice from great lakes sailors?
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post #2 of 11 Old 06-05-2015
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Re: Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.

Hi Scott. Welcome to sailing and Sailnet!
I live an hour from Manitowoc, WI where my Mirage 24 is moored. I don't sail as often as I thought I would when I bought the boat. Although I live only a mile from Lake Winnebago where I berthed a Santana 20 I chose Lake MI for the Mirage for other reasons than convenience. My Mirage is still on the trailer. But I've been aboard several other boats this season. And the bluegills have been biting!

If I were me in your situation I'd purchase a Laser or Sunfish and get more sailing time in any nearby puddle until time allows to get on board a boat on the big lake. Last year it probably cost me about $100 each time I took the boat out. That's dividing the mooring fees etc. by the number of days on the water. You'll learn a ton about seat of the pants sailing on a small boat and have a blast instead of driving four hours. In the mean time you can research bigger boats to find one that really suits your needs and wants. A good small boat sailor makes a good big boat sailor too. You may keep a smaller boat even after purchasing a boat for Lk. MI. There are days I wish I still had my Zuma in the driveway.
- CH
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-06-2015
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Re: Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.

Hi Scott, always great to have more Great Lakes sailors on board here. I tend to agree with Chas here, but it depends on what kind of sailing you want to do. If you just want to sail, then get a smallish open boat and have fun on the smaller lakes. You might also be able to join a sailing club in the area that rents boats.

Now, if your ambition is to go cruising, then you'll want to move into a small keelboat. For $10K, and in your situation, I'd consider a trailer-sailer in the 22' range. Look for something you can launch and haul by yourself. Here you'll get a small cabin, and minimal living space, but it can go places on the Big Lake.

If bigger boats are your goal (to go cruising), then try and become crew on nearby racing boats. Most yacht clubs will have weekly races. Captains are always looking for competent crew. Once you learn a bit about sailing you can join the crew ranks and try and get on a few boats. Racing is not like cruising, but it will give you some experience with keel boats (and is great for learning how to sail).

Why go fast, when you can go slow.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-06-2015
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Re: Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.

Welcome aboard, Scott! Hope you find what works for you and gets you out on the water.

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post #5 of 11 Old 06-06-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.

Thanks for the words of advice. I had a small sailboat in the past and I guess it would be a good way to quench my thirst in the extreme short term. My goal is to cruise the ocean but I wouldn't ever been seen again if I tried that right now. My Lake Michigan goal was to kind of have a boat/camper that I could putter around the southern end of the lake on weekends or short vacations. From what I can see via the online boat market It's hard to know what 10K buys around the lake. I also would only want to use the boat as my learning boat to where I would move into something larger.

It feels so exciting to finally be talking about it with real plans now instead of just daydreaming. Even if its just online. It seems like one of those things you can't really talk about because people just don't believe you'll follow through with it. Now to craigslist to look at little boats! I don't know many boat names or styles. I don't even really know many boating terms. I just had a little blue boat and I figured out how to make it move with the wind. I have to also shamelessly add that I'd love to be able to throw a line to a girl, "wanna go sailing this weekend". So I need to find something with room for 2. I remember the boat now was a Banshee. It was a decent boat but the transom started to rot away and I just ditched it.

Thanks again. I'm excited to slowly get more involved with this community. It seems like a great group of people from the creeping around I did before I registered. I think that's another reason sailing excites me. I have been into motorcycles and other sorts of communities and the sailing community seems to fit my personality much much better than any of the previous. Hope someday to meet some of you great lakes sailors and we can all share a drink!
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post #6 of 11 Old 06-07-2015
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Re: Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.

There are many wonderful harbors on the southern end of Lake Michigan: Chicago (of course), New Buffalo, Hammond (nice facility, not great surroundings unless you like the casino), St. Joe, and South Haven (beautiful, but a touch further north).

I think with 10k and patience, you can get you something seaworthy in the 30' range. It would be a hunt, but very doable. I know someone who just a year ago bought an Irwin 30 for ~$2000. The boat was in fine shape; it had been donated to charity. The charity auctioned the boat, and his bid won. It might have been the only bid.

Alternatively, when I search Yacht World (narrowing the search to Great Lakes, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin), there are many boats in the 10-15k range. They do need updating--things like new cushions and leaks around fittings fixed and things like that. But, you CAN find boats that can be safely put into the water. Of course, pay for a good survey as part of the buying process, as I'm sure some of these boats also have serious problems. Catalina 30s, the Chevy Cavaliers of production boats, come to mind in this "genre" of boat.

With respect to gaining experience--folks who suggest a small boat first near your home are wise. That's how I started. However, you could take a 3 day bareboat certification course--something like through Sailboats Inc. in Chicago, or Michigan City Sailboat Charters in MI City, IN. After a course like this, and then an overnight bareboat or two (daysailing and docking nightly at the home port), you could responsibly begin thinking about owning and skippering your own boat.

Sailboats Inc., back in the day, was a legit company with an active Chicago base. Although they're still around, their fleet has shrunk considerably, and they don't regularly schedule instruction (I think it's on demand if and when they have interest). I believe Michigan City Sailboat Charters is a bit more active these days. Doing a three day class through a similar company like this is mini-vacation. There aren't a ton of such companies on Lake Michigan, but there are a few (maybe also one in Traverse City, MI).

Couple the cost of the class, with say two bareboat charters of 2-3 days each, and you are still WWAAYY ahead in terms of money spent that first summer relative to what you'd have spent just on slip fees, insurance, maintenance (not even counting the purchase price).

Good luck!
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-07-2015
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Re: Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.


You have received a lot of good advice. I think you might want to look for a nice Macgregor 26S. It is trailerable with a smaller car (6-8 cylinder). It uses a smaller outboard (8-9 HP), and is a great cruiser. Look them up on the internet. I got mine for $5750.00. Good luck.
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post #8 of 11 Old 06-07-2015 Thread Starter
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Wow, yes. I appreciate this advice. Little things like names of boats and locations or companies that are just much easier to learn from someone in the know than google searching. I'm kind of looking for a small boat that would get me on the water now while I look for a larger boat. I really only want to use this first boat as a quick stepping stone. When everyone says small boat what do you define as small. I have a good line on a cal 20 which I've kind of fallen in love with. I have a full size truck, would it pull a cal 20? It seems like a small boat that would sail like a big boat and give me some quick ability to do more than a quick day sail.
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-07-2015
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Re: Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.

"just much easier to learn from someone in the know than google searching"

On the other hand, with the internet, you have a world of information available at your own fingertips. Why not study a bit on your own, and post queries when you're truly unable to find the answer? Sure, Sailnet people will help you, but you're a thirty year old man who doesn't appear to have the focus and the initiative to get yourself on the water.

example: "I have a full size truck, would it pull a cal 20? "
Well, how the heck would I know? Haven't seen your truck, so I don't know the make, model, year, engine, transmission, or rear end, but I'll bet if you looked up the weight of a Cal 20 with trailer, and do your homework to learn the towing capacity of your truck, you'll have the answer.

Sorry, but you don't seem to be focused, and don't appear to have done the reading and research on the subject that a person interested in sailing would do. If you're interested in having a boat on Lake Michigan, go look at boats at a large broker, look at the listings, find out what a slip or mooring costs in various town on the lake, find out how much winter storage costs if you have a boat on a cradle. Read magazines and books (sailing section in library). Read Chapman's. Take the power squadron course. Use the search function on this site.
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-07-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Intro, Lake Michigan Advice, Questions.

oops, I believe you misunderstood that statement I made. I was trying to say it without sounding like the person that you understood it as. I do believe that I am a rather capable google user and I do use it often. I do believe that the answer to all of my questions might be available in the google machine and I do look things up and have ordered books but I haven't gotten them yet. I also view wonderful forums like this as ways to be direct and if I have 5 questions you ask 5 questions. Nobody is forcing anyone to answer them and someone with Cal 20 experience might understand exactly why I'm asking a question that seems totally obvious to other people. My question may have also been poorly worded. I have hauled plenty of things to understand that by sheer numbers alone my truck would be suitable to pull the Cal 20. I guess I would have worded it better by saying "what's a cal 20 pull like behind a Chevy 1500? will I hate my life if I use it like a trailer sailor?" I do understand how you read my post and I truly didn't intend to be that guy. I also look at forums as places where people are passionate about a certain thing and just enjoy talking and posting for no other reason than to talk about their interest. Namely motorcycle forums where I am on the other side of the table so to speak. People ask a simple question like "does a cx500 make a good cruiser". Then I get to be the excited response saying "yes! it was an amazing ride from central Illinois to the Florida keys and back. For a 500 it rides wonderful at 75 all day long. I'd work on getting an electric cooling fan set up for any hot weather cruising but I now advise many first time riders to get a CX500". I'm glad they ask what seems like a question you could just google. I also think it's a community effort. I hope I don't go to a sailing club and ask a question and get "google is your best friend, son" as a response. Once again, I'm sorry that you misunderstood my post and/or I'm sorry for being a total newb. So ends my short time at sailnet.
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