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I've been sailing for about 10 years. I sail flying scots on the Potomac River throughout sailing season, have crewed bigger boats in regatas and have chartered hunter 37's on the Chesapeake Bay from time to time. So I'm not a novice sailer, but I'm not a boat owner, or expert sailer by any means. I've now got access to a house on a creek off the Chesapeake with a dock that at low tide has about 18-24 inches of water. There's also the possbility of installing a mooring ball off the dock in the deeper water.

For the purposes of this post, I'm looking for recommendations on good centerboard starter boats that could be kept at the dock and would enable my wife, young son and I to do overnights, and could handle being out on the bay. I've looked online at boats like the Macgregor 25, Oday222, etc, but thought folks here might have some better insights and/or suggestions.
 

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You may want to check out the Shallow Water Sailors web site. They specialize in the sharpie type boats like Dovekie and Bay Hen. If a swing keel is ok ubiquitous standard is the Catalina 22 which has been in production since 1968. Solid class development availability. Check out thier class organization web site.
 

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Have you considered a catboat? An 18 footer would draw less than 2' with the board up and would displace as much as a Catalina 22. The cabin might be a bit tight, though, but it would be a very stable platform for a young family.
 

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With no information on your target price range, I am going to suggest a 42' Southerly. They are a little too deep at low tide for you at 2'8" with the board up, but it is totally safe for them to dry out when the tide drops. There is one in Rock Hall for around $400k on yachtworld. Perfect starter boat. Definitely would allow overnights for your family.
 

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Have a thin water situation here in FL similar to that of the OP, though without a trust fund for a "starter" boat that is apparently envisioned by mr_f. ;)

As the OP is a flying scot sailor I'm guessing that he'd prefer a faster boat that sails well in lighter air, vs. a cruiser type. If so then S2s (6.9, 7.3, 7.9) are good boats to consider. Catboats are stable and salty, but are usually heavier w/ no headsail and so not as fast. Others to think about are Balboa 26, Precision 23, and Tanzer 7.5 or 27 SD. Some of the 23 to 26 foot O'Days have CBs and are a consideration as well. These boats can all be had for $5-15K, depending on features and condition.

That being said, I'm still in research mode, and certainly am open to other suggestions.

Ultimately it depends on what is comfortable for you and the family, and the quality of PO upkeep. Best of luck to the OP.
 

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Or, if you have the budget for it, maybe one of the Hake Yachts Seaward 26, etc., with its continuously adjustable range keel?
 

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Second rgscpat's suggestion of the Hake/Seaward as a thin-water cruiser, but be prepared to spend ~$100K. Not in my budget - can't speak for the OP's.
 

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I would be researching a sailboat that has a shoal keel with or without centerboard, and is designed to sit on the keel when tide is out. In many places around the world, this is the only option they have. Some shallow draft sailboats are not designed to sit on their keel, and some are!
 

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Hi JRach,

you wrote you looked at the Mac25. I can highly recommend the Mac26S, having myself sailed one since 2010. She really does float in just over a foot of water with her swing keel up and can be beached. Enough space for a young family to stay for a weekend . Sails well (and faster than the later hybrid). Not the best boat but for a boat that's been out of production since 1995 a lot of boat for the money. ;)
 

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If you are considering newer boats, in Canada you can get TES 24. New one will set you back about $46-47,000 with everything you need (including trailer and outboard). She will float in 12 inches of water with the centreboard up and if there is really low tide, no harm will be done.

TES Yachts Canada

 
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