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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I are relatively new to sailing, but we have been around water as far back as we can remember, and we want to purchase our own boat this year.

I've been sailing on/off with friends (and who ever else might need a crew) for ~5 years, getting more seriously in to it the past 2 years. I am getting comfortable on a sail boat, and feel that I am just a little ways away of being very comfortable on my own boat.

My wife is quite green, but took beginner sailing lessons last year, and she is feeling very comfortable now.

I love where we live in NE IL/SE WI, but the sailing season here is just too short. I don't want to stick a ton of money in to something that I can only use for 6 months out of the year (if we're lucky), but I have no problem in spending the money to get something reliable and in good shape.

We have sailed everything from 20' boats to 36' boats, and a few boats in between, and we had fun on all size boats.

We will be sailing 100% on Lake Michigan, which as most of you probably now, can kick up very quickly. It's not like sailing off-shore in the ocean, but it can get hairy very quick, so we need something that tracks great and is stable even in rough weather.

I'm writing this post so that I can hear from you experienced folks two things...1) what is the best size range of boat for our criteria below, 2) please list your top 5 to 10 proven boats for reliability (hull and general equipment) --- brands and models would be appreciated.

Criteria for our boat will be:

*Up to 6 adults on board at one time
*We will be using the boat primarily for day sailing, but 25% of the use will be for overnight trips of 1 to 3 nights, and 10% of the use will be for overnight trips to 4 nights or more with 4 adults
*Relatively comfortable accomodations in cabin
*Decent racer to participate in club races --- nothing major, but something that will keep up with the rest of the boats out there
*We would like to stay <$20k to leave room in our budget for upgrades, but if we can get a boat for $10k we would be thrilled

If I need to post any other desired details, please let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for the feedback.

I figured the money figure I threw out there was somewhat unrealistic for a boat on the larger side, say 30'+, but I was hoping that for that price we could get something good on the smaller side.

In the discussions we've had regarding getting a boat, my wife and I figured $5k/year to spend on it (plus storage, both in and out of the water) was a good safe figure to have to spend on upkeeping it. I honestly did not know the price for upkeep on a larger boat was that much - thank you for opening my eyes to it.

I have spent a fair amount of time on a 28' boat with up to 6 adults, and I found it comfortable and felt very safe. That was the basis for my 4 adults for an overnight trip. We're very used to packing light and camping in close quarters with others, so that kind of stuff does not bother us, but I also want to make sure that 4 adults (total combined weight of approx. 650 pounds) plus gear for a few nights would be safe aboard a 26' or 28' boat for on Lake Michigan or Lake Superior.

Also, thanks for the suggestion on a smaller boat, learning, and then working up. That's similar to what I did with power boats (started with a 16' boat when I was 16, and then worked my way up to the mid-20's), which taught be a lot about being on the water, operating safely, reading the weather, etc.

Honestly, 75% of the time on anything more than a day sail it is just going to be my wife and I, and the rest of the time it will probably be one other couple at most.

Is a 24 to 26 foot boat something that is safe enough for the above listed scenarios on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior?

I have been around power boats all my life, and in some cases I wouldn't think of going out on Lake Michigan in a 35' boat, but I have not been in rough seas very much on a sailboat. My most experience on rough seas came in a 28' boat with 5 adults on board, and I felt very safe and secure and was impressed on how a sailboat handled versus a power boat.
 
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