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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I''m looking for a good starter sailboat. Always dreamed about having one and can finally afford it! Love water, but have always crew along instead of taking the steer myself. Would really appreciate good advice. Too many choices. What brand, year and model are the best fit for me?

Have done some sailing myself, but I''m going this spring for some serious training to be better at it.

My wife and 13 year daugther will be complete my crew. Live in the Chicago area and would sail in Lake Michigan and Lake Geneva (a 4x7 mile lake in southern Wisconsin).

Interested in a boat that needs little work or minimum maintanence. Prefer used over new for cost reasons.

Would prefer a boat that I can go solo if needed.

Purpose is mainly crusing, not racing.

Trailable would be nice although not necessary.

Budget between $15K - 25K.

Again, thanks for your advice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
How about a Cope Dory or Catalina 28''-30''? I''ve been told to stay away from Hunter MacGregor and Benetau because of resell value and durability.
 

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You''d be better off defining whether you will trailer the boat or not. Lake Michigan is a big difference than Lake Geneva. The boats you mentioned are not easily trailerable and would be a pain to set up.

Your budget is good for a used boat in the mid to upper 20 ft range. And they all should be easily single-handed. Forget about no maintenance; they all need some maintenance. Just get a survey before you buy to detect any major repairs.

Before you buy you might want to talk with your sailing instructor this spring to get further suggestions.

Good luck

Chet
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks a lot for your input. I learned that you can a get a lot more boat if you choose non-trailable. I''ve been to Lake Geneva and felt that Lake Michigan would be intimidating. I''m learning that a few feet would go a long way to have more stability in Lake Michigan. So, no trail and only lake Michigan. So far so good. I can''t wait for spring... and a boat.
 

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Try 28-30 foot Cal. They are super well built, pretty, and fairly roomy. Go bigger if you have concerns as once you can dock your boat, a few feet means nothing sailing, but a lot for comfort. Lapworth designed some beauties. Also, up by you, look for Hinterhoeller Niagara''s, and C&C''s. ....also, NO such thing as a low maintenance boat.
 

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Try 28-30 foot Cal. They are super well built, pretty, and fairly roomy. Go bigger if you have concerns as once you can dock your boat, a few feet means nothing sailing, but a lot for comfort. Lapworth designed some beauties. Also, up by you, look for Hinterhoeller Niagara''s, and C&C''s. ....also, NO such thing as a low maintenance boat.
 

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First and foremost, I think you need to look at the conditions you will normally be sailing in. What are the typical winds and chop on Lake Michigan? Take Newport, RI, where I sail out of vs. say the Chesapeake. Afternoon winds in the summer in Newport are typically 15+ knots and the chop in the bay is typically 1 foot or less while you can count on much lighter winds in the heat of the summer in the Chesapeake. You also need to consider the depth of the crusing area; we never have a problem with our 6.5'' draught but the Lake may be a different story. If you can get us some of these details, I think a much better accessment of the proper boat can be made.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the input. Not sure about the conditions of Lake Michigan or how it compares with RI. Draught should not be a problem.

In a boat show today in Chicago, I picked on a 1990 Pearson 27. I''ve been told that this is a great little starter with good disp ratio, room and it holds it value well. Asking price is about $26K. Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am also looking for a good starter boat. I haven''t sailed in 10 years and will be releaning this spring.I have heard good things on the Person and several persons here have mention Cal 28-30; what of the Catalina 270s? Long ago I sailed an O''Day 27 on the St. Johns River and coastal N. Fla. and I am looking for something more comfotable(I have small childen now). Thanks for any opinons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am also looking for a good starter boat. I haven''t sailed in 10 years and will be releaning this spring.I have heard good things on the Person and several persons here have mention Cal 28-30; what of the Catalina 270s? Long ago I sailed an O''Day 27 on the St. Johns River and coastal N. Fla. and I am looking for something more comfotable(I have small childen now). Thanks for any opinons.
 

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I recently traded in my Tanzer 8.5 for a larger boat. I would recommend this boat highly for your needs. It is solid, performs well, can easily handle lake conditions, easy to single hand, (which I did often), and has a large interior for a 28 footer of earlier vintage. You must have an inboard to be certain that you can keep you prop in the water when the big waves come up. A diesel is also the way to go. The T8.5 has a Yanmar diesel. This boat would fall well within your price range - suggest you check out Canadian listings at www.computerboatsearch.com - prices are in Can dollars so multiply by .68 - shipping to your area would should be reasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I too am looking for a starter sailboat that is as big as my budget will allow (~$30K). I have seen many boats that interest me, from a Catalina 27 to a Hunter 36. Is a Hunter 36 too big for someone with only dingy and cat experience? Is there something wrong with Hunters? Durability?

I want to be comfortable for overnights and liveaboard (on weekends), but I don''t want to get in over my head. I will take classes to learn more about cruising.

Thanks for your advise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I''ve done quite a bit of research since I started this posting here. I don''t mean this as a slam to some brand (Disclaimer: This comentary is based on input and not on any manufacturer endorsement)

I''ve been told to stay away from the Catalina, MacGregor, Hunters and look for Cape Dory, Cal, Pearsons, etc. Although most of the later companies are out of business, the quality of boat make a big difference and should be a priority. I''ve heard, good value, look for 15-10 years old or better. Research, research and if you''re new in this, get a good broker. It makes a difference and it''s well worth the price to avoid a mistake on a serious oversight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There seems to be confusion as to the place where the boat will be used. I would listen to experianced sailors like hamian and not those saying to stay away from a particular brand unless they are aware of the specific application.

There is a big difference between a boat that can be trailered to a lake and one that will be able to take a line squall on Lake Michigan and that the wife will want to get back on after it''s over.

On a lake where you can swim to the furthest shore almost anything will do. To take a small boat out of Newport, RI and see those breakers on the Beavertail is something else.

For big waters I would like a 30'' boat as a starter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for your clarification. I agree. I''m looking specifically for Lake Michigan and still wondering if a non-trailable 24'' will do, although the 28'' has some clear advantages on interior space. Word of Caution: Even though is not off-shore, it''s not advisable to swim across Lake Michigan :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the feedback. I want to clarify that I plan to be sailing only in the Gulf of Mexico on the Florida Coast.

I am not hung up on brand, only looking at 10-20 year old boats priced at a value. Thus far I see mostly Catalinas and Hunters. My biggest concern is if a 36'' boat is too ambitious for a first cruiser; however, I do like the idea of the size for friends and living.

Thanks again.
 

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I''ve crewed and raced frequently for about 10 years and finally found a great deal on a 25 footer (Hughes ''68). Once it''s on the water I''ll have no trouble sailing but getting her in shape, whew! The list keeps growing and I seem to just remove things, uncover something else and remove more. I''m really glad a didn''t find a killer deal on much bigger. Are you really handy and good with the mechanicals and electric issues? Have you added up the incidental costs? A galon of bottom paint (more than enough for 25'', may not be enough for 36) is $100 plus. Look at the cost of outfiting for single handed sailing, roller furling systems and such. And, for such a small boat, so much sanding!
 

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Someone said to only look for diesel inboards. Don't get hung up on this. There are many, many solid Atomic 4's out there. These are great engines. My boat has one that is 36 years old and is still going strong. With very basic precautions gas engines are as safe a diesel.
 
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