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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all...longtime lurker, first time poster here. Looking for some advice on my first sailboat purchase. Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read what is sure to be a long winded post!

My situation:

I'm a married father of 3 (ages 15, 11, 6) living in the NW suburbs of Minneapolis. My experience consists of sailing lasers and a Pearson 23 daysailer on Lake Minnetonka and Little Bay De Noc on Lake Michigan over the past couple summers. I would consider myself a beginner (but ready to test up to intermediate level ;)).

I'm looking for something that to day sail with on the inland lakes of the Twin Cities area (possibly buy a slip on Minnetonka), but also trailer to Lake Michigan once a year for a 1-2 week cruise (my parents are retired, living a short walk from the Gladstone marina in the UP).

My thoughts:

-I drive a 1/2 ton Suburban and feel that a 22 footer would probably be the max that I would want to trailer the yearly 700 miles round trip from Mpls to Gladstone.
- I would take my family of 5 on day sails, but would probably only take 3 on overnight trips.
- Ideally I will learn to sail on Minnetonka over the summer, then in late August sail from Gladstone to Fayette, then around the point to Portage Bay and back over the course of a few days. If all goes well next year I may try Gladstone to Mackinac Island. Obviously, I'd want a boat capable of a trip like that.
- After much research, I think a Cat 22 would suit my needs well.

What's available:

Here are 4 boats available now, ranked in order of suitability IMO:

Cat 22 - Nice boat, very popular model, a bit far away:
Catalina 22 Sailboat - 1981

Chrysler 22 - A little heavier, heels a bit easier than a Cat, but overall stability may be a little better?
SAILBOAT CHRYSLER 22' SAILBOAT

O'Day 23 - Don't know a whole lot about these, similar to the above two IMO (?)
23' O'Day Sailboat and Trailer

Hunter 23.5 - This is the closest listing to me and sounds like it would be good to trailer, but from what I've read these aren't big wave boats. I can't find much for info about taking these on Lake Michigan, and I assume there is a reason for that.
1990 23.5' Hunter Sailboat - great condition!!!

Just looking for confirmation to see if I'm on track with my research in regards to the size and models I'm looking at for the type of sailing I plan on doing.

I appreciate any and all replies. Thanks for reading.
 

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That is similar to how I intend to use my Catalina 22.

I haven't even put mine in the water yet, let alone spend a night on it, but my feeling is that it will be tight but manageable for two people to overnight. Three would be very tight.

The Hunter looks very good for the price, and I think the extra space would serve you well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. What are your thoughts on the Hunter (and it's wing keel) as a great lakes cruiser?

Not sure if you're familiar with the area but on my first trip I'd be looking to cross Big Bay De Noc (about 10 miles) then round the Garden Peninsula into some of the secluded bays on the other side. The Garden Peninsula is fairly unique to the lake in that there is a long stretch of 100 foot limestone cliffs around the point. As you can imagine this water gets very deep very fast, and is exposed the entire length of the lake (now that I think about it, sounds like Superior, which I believe you are familiar with).

I've been on 19 foot fishing boats where we've had to turn around because it was too rough (sunny day, stiff southerly breeze). Based on what I've heard about the Hunter 23.5 not sure if I'd want to be out there in those "seas".
 

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I've seen people on Superior in boats that size, both out of Duluth and the Apostle Islands, and I intend to get my boat up there some day, but I know I'd keep a close eye on the weather.

The swing keel on my boat could be a problem if I ran into big waves because if the boat is bouncing around too much the keel could start slamming back and forth. The Hunter with a fixed wing keel wouldn't have that problem.

This is all strictly theoretical on my part. I have experience sailing centerboard day sailers, and I have (limited) experience sailing 35+ foot cruising boats, but I have almost no experience in the low 20s range.
 

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The Catalina is a great boat with a company still in business, you can get part, advise and help. Catalina also has the biggest owner group with chapters all over the world.
I would stay away from the Chrysler, not well built from what I have seen.
The O'Day is a wonderful boat I don't have personal experience but what I have heard is good, looks looks the layout is a 30 footer shrunk down.
I have been on a hunter 23.5 and it was too tender for me.
 

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sunfish?junior?
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I've seen people on Superior in boats that size, both out of Duluth and the Apostle Islands, and I intend to get my boat up there some day, but I know I'd keep a close eye on the weather.

The swing keel on my boat could be a problem if I ran into big waves because if the boat is bouncing around too much the keel could start slamming back and forth. The Hunter with a fixed wing keel wouldn't have that problem.

This is all strictly theoretical on my part. I have experience sailing centerboard day sailers, and I have (limited) experience sailing 35+ foot cruising boats, but I have almost no experience in the low 20s range.
The Catalina-22 has a keel lock down bolt but I would think if it is that ruff out you may be pushing it ?
I have spent Three nights on mine this year with two adults one child They are a great boat for the intended use. I have been out in 35mph winds this year triple reef with the main only. The heel angle was ok for my wife:) Lots of white caps but I am not on open water so the waves are still small. I did not lock the keel and did not feel the need to do so. Some of the racers could give you better advice. I wish I could. I have been crew in a few gusty races and have seen water come over the gunnel in a gust.
The **** pit drains work pretty good. Again conditions had high gusty wind with no large waves. We had a 150% genoa I have so little time I can not comment on what might be to much weather.
They also make a wing keel and fixed keel C-22 Still imho weekend boats
Kind Regards, Lou
 

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Captain Obvious
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FWIW, in 15 knot wind and 3' waves - at least on my Catalina 22, the keel is held tight by the force of the water so it doesn't clunk. Its the kind of boat you can sail up to a point and then you are just fore reaching and hoping for it all to be over.

Have had some serious gusts and wind and my Cat begins to lose its ability ( for me) to sail it long before it has any hull stability problems. The fun goes away but the boat stays upright. What that means I guess is that if you are chicken **** like me - once you get the sails down and the motor running, you can make it back to the dock okay if things get bad. At my experience level its a boat I trust but with definite sailing limits.
 

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Broad Reachin'
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In good condition, the Cat/O'day/Hunter would all serve your needs. I recommend making sure whatever you get has a very reliable outboard so that you can choose conservative (read low wind) weather windows where you may end up doing some motoring. That way you'll maximize your chances of avoiding conditions that may be too much for the boats or your skill level.

Bare in mind that there's a lot of open water between Gladstone and Mac Island with few spots to run for cover if the weather/water turns snotty. However, northern Lake Michigan is an amazing cruising area. The run from Fayette to Beaver Island, then Beaver to St. Helena, then to Mackinac is spectacular, but this would mean many hours on the open water, so prepare/plan accordingly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
In good condition, the Cat/O'day/Hunter would all serve your needs. I recommend making sure whatever you get has a very reliable outboard so that you can choose conservative (read low wind) weather windows where you may end up doing some motoring. That way you'll maximize your chances of avoiding conditions that may be too much for the boats or your skill level.

Bare in mind that there's a lot of open water between Gladstone and Mac Island with few spots to run for cover if the weather/water turns snotty. However, northern Lake Michigan is an amazing cruising area. The run from Fayette to Beaver Island, then Beaver to St. Helena, then to Mackinac is spectacular, but this would mean many hours on the open water, so prepare/plan accordingly.
Gladstone to Fayette will be my first trip on Lake Michigan. I feel like that is pretty reasonable. We'll see how that goes then take it from there but yes, Gladstone to Mackinac Island is the eventual goal.

Question - when people talk about the "weather window" how much time are we realistically talking? I've heard that the weather service on Lake Michigan can be unreliable and it's a rare day that there isn't at least a slight chance of storms in the area. Do you rely on the weather service or are you just keeping your eyes on the sky? If the latter, when you decide to run for cover? At the first sight of storms or something else?

Thanks for posting.
 

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Do many of those low 20's sized boats sail out of Duluth to the Apostles? Looks like it's about 50 miles or so...
Yeah, people do that. I hope to. There are places to duck out on the south shore, I'm not sure how it is on Lake Michigan.

Also I looked at those ads again, I think the Hunter for sale is a 23, not a 23.5. I know someone with a 23.5 in Duluth. It has a tank you flood with 1000 lbs of water ballast, so once you drain the tank it's very light for trailering, but it's a bit tender for sailing. The ad you linked to has the fixed wing keel, so it's probably less tender than the 23.5, but a bit harder to trailer.
 

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In a past life I spent some time sailing Door county, Fayette etc in a 22' starwind (same hull as a Chrysler 22). Any of the boats on your list would do that fine. You can always launch at St. Ignace for a short hop to Mackinac. Of the boats on your list, the O'day would be my choice if in good shape. It's a shoal keel with a centerboard (rather than a swing keel) so less worry in the event of a knockdown. I have sailed on a friends ODay 23 and it sails pretty well. You might also look at an O'day 25 for a bit more room (which is also a kcb boat and commonly sold with a trailer (8 ft beam). I think they displace ~4k lbs, and could be trailered by a 1/2t suburban if equipped with torsion bars for the trailer etc.
 

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I sailed/cruised a Cat 22 swing keel for a couple of years including a trip from Troon to Stornaway and back on the West coast of Scotland. I had some fairly rough seas to contend with and never felt the that the swing keel was an issue. So don't let people who have never sailed one put you off.

Fitting 4 people in overnight is another question though. Doable but cramped. See if you can find one with a pop top if overnighting is to be a regular event.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yeah, people do that. I hope to. There are places to duck out on the south shore, I'm not sure how it is on Lake Michigan.

Also I looked at those ads again, I think the Hunter for sale is a 23, not a 23.5. I know someone with a 23.5 in Duluth. It has a tank you flood with 1000 lbs of water ballast, so once you drain the tank it's very light for trailering, but it's a bit tender for sailing. The ad you linked to has the fixed wing keel, so it's probably less tender than the 23.5, but a bit harder to trailer.
Wow, you are right. For some reason I had it in my head that this had both a wing keel and a water ballast. I had pretty much decided to avoid the 23.5 with plans to sail Lake Michigan. The Hunter 23 looks like a whole different animal. I can actually find info on these being sailed in the Great Lakes.

I may have to take another look at this one. Good catch!
 

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Broad Reachin'
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Question - when people talk about the "weather window" how much time are we realistically talking? I've heard that the weather service on Lake Michigan can be unreliable and it's a rare day that there isn't at least a slight chance of storms in the area. Do you rely on the weather service or are you just keeping your eyes on the sky? If the latter, when you decide to run for cover? At the first sight of storms or something else?
True enough, the NOAA radio forecast almost always states a chance of showers and thunderstorms. I'm less worried about thunderstorms and squalls then I am about heavy seas. You can reef, drop sail, forereach, run, etc. in temporary high winds, but sustained winds make the seas build. The sometimes short and steep waves of the Great Lakes can put a beating on you.

"Weather windows" can last for several days at a time, in which case you'll likely need your motor as often as you'll need your sails on northern Lake Michigan. Sustained high wind events seem to typically last 1-3 days and can take only a few hours to make the waves uncomfortable for a small boat.

I pay most attention to sustained wind patterns and predicted wave heights. I use a combination of intuition, NOAA weather radio, buoy data, and services like SailFlow to determine what the weather is going to do.

You'll start to pick up on normal patterns, such as the typical pattern in my homeport on L. MI of offshore winds in the morning/evenings, slack wind midday, and often moderate onshore afternoon breezes. Sometimes when we're cruising we are able to take adventure of early morning sailing, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
In a past life I spent some time sailing Door county, Fayette etc in a 22' starwind (same hull as a Chrysler 22). Any of the boats on your list would do that fine. You can always launch at St. Ignace for a short hop to Mackinac. Of the boats on your list, the O'day would be my choice if in good shape. It's a shoal keel with a centerboard (rather than a swing keel) so less worry in the event of a knockdown. I have sailed on a friends ODay 23 and it sails pretty well. You might also look at an O'day 25 for a bit more room (which is also a kcb boat and commonly sold with a trailer (8 ft beam). I think they displace ~4k lbs, and could be trailered by a 1/2t suburban if equipped with torsion bars for the trailer etc.
Well, I had my search narrowed down to the O'Day 23 and Cat 22 (until Minnesail enlightened me on the Hunter 23).

What I've realized is "being able" to trailer a sailboat and "wanting to" are two different things. For this reason I will probably avoid the 25 footers. For me its a question of "Do I want a roomier O'Day or the easier to trailer Cat"?

Again, I'll be doing one trip per year to Lake Michigan. That means trailering across Wisconsin on Highways where the avg speed is probably 80. Obviously I won't be going that fast with a boat, a wife, and 3 kids in the Suburban, but I want to be safe and not kill my vehicle either. The good part of that drive is that it is very flat. The other thing is the fact that I don't have a slip in MN yet, so I may need to trailer to the local lakes as well.

Right now I'm thinking that if I can get a slip on a lake here then I will try for an O'Day 23. If not then I'll look for a Catalina 22.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I sailed/cruised a Cat 22 swing keel for a couple of years including a trip from Troon to Stornaway and back on the West coast of Scotland. I had some fairly rough seas to contend with and never felt the that the swing keel was an issue. So don't let people who have never sailed one put you off.

Fitting 4 people in overnight is another question though. Doable but cramped. See if you can find one with a pop top if overnighting is to be a regular event.
Just looked up Troon and Stornaway on a map. Wow, that is quite a sail in a Cat 22. How long did it take?
 

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I sailed/cruised a Cat 22 swing keel for a couple of years including a trip from Troon to Stornaway and back on the West coast of Scotland. I had some fairly rough seas to contend with and never felt the that the swing keel was an issue. So don't let people who have never sailed one put you off.
Impressive! Did you ever sail the 22 over night, or did you pull in some place every day?
 

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My first mono was an Oday 22 and I found it to be a well constructed boat that held up well with what little maintenance was done to it. It was a 1982 and I bought it in 2005. Make sure and get an outboard with electric start/ alternator. You won't get much amperage out of the alternator but something is better than nothing.

I will second the recommendation to look at an Oday 25. For the difference in displacement you're only talking about 600lbs more to tow, which is next to nothing for the added features and comfort. They still have the center board so towing will be just as easy as the 23. That and it can sleep 5, which I think would be an important feature. Also the head is fulley enclosed and not open to the Vberth with trust me was an issue with the 22 I had and it looks to be the same with the 23. It's nice to have a little door/ wall to keep the smells away, and for privacy. Also I know that an inboard engine/ saildrive engine was an option. This is a fantastic feature. As while motoring with an outboard you get the noise, vibration, and smell. If running down wind on a light day for 8 hours you'll get very tired of the outboard smell and 2 stroke fumes. Plus having tried to use an outboard in 3-4ft seas you'll soon find out they are about worthless. They will either be dunking under or popping out of the waves and revving. The inboard puts the prop well below the water where it isn't affected by wave motion. Also 5'6" standing room sounds pretty good too. That and having comfortable seatind down below with the decks being a little be higher. I think if you bring all the kids and wife and step on a 23 oday then on a 25 you'll go for the 25 every time. But your mileage may vary as they say.

In my 22 I experienced the lack of comfort below that comes from having no place to sit with a back rest. The decks were too low for me at 6'2" to sit on the settee and rest my back against the hull as was intended. The outboard came out of the water in big waves and was loud and noisy. You smelled the head all the time when sleeping in the vberth. ect ect. Good luck and happy hunting do let us know what you decide and as always pictures or it didn't happen!
 
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