Picking a Beach-camper sailboat?
September 16, 2010
Situation/Goal: I've long been a smallboat fan. I mostly do paddling these days. We're family of 4, with kids 10 and 12. I'd like to get us going sailing on occasion, for picnic outings and even an overnight. We live in Mid-Michigan but are starting to spend summers in Leelenau and I have inlaws near Kalamazoo (near Gun Lake, a big beauty with nooks'n'crannies and parkland).
Background: I've sailed Sunfishes on up to a 30-foot wood ocean boat I used to own and live on. The family hasn't done much but is interested. Martha less so but has always ended up enjoying any adventure. And she's a great camp cook. (We all enjoy the "Swallows & Amazons" books and movies! :) )
Limits: Time/Money. We have basically nil of each. :) We need a cheap, local, simple, quick-launch boat.
Question: For beach-camping, is it truly handy to have a boat that can be pulled up beyond waves? Or is it just as good to anchor beyond the breakers (in Michigan that's usually 50 feet offshore, say). I suppose we could readily wade/swim ashore, but maybe a dinghy-ish thing would be handy, if only for floating gear to shore? Like maybe a windsurf-board? Oh, I suppose the boat itself could be let close enough to shore to toss goodies out then pulled back out to anchor. Then you only have your usual anchor-dragging worries. ..."Only." It's perhaps easier to "proof" a beach-cruiser. ?
Note: I hate sitting becalmed. I imagine finding a pair of 8-foot spoon oars to be dandy handy (I've rowed a lot) to get us a mile to something more interesting. Tiny motor might be tolerable -- might also be good for using boat as mini-pontoon boat of a quiet evening (electric trolling motor maybe good for that?)
Candidates: I've found bargains and likely deals on several boats so far: O'Day Mariner 19 (not the 2+2) w/ CB, new sails, 2-axle trailer, $700. CL-16, $750 (a glass Wayfarer). Abandoned Lightnings and dusty Wayfarers are likely lurking about. $500 would be more in our range. A Lightning MIGHT be the easiest to find around here as a dusty cast-off "to good home," as the local fleet is doing some flip-flopping to other boats of late.
Another note: I also like a boat that will GO. I like a boat that will point high and move, even in light air. Yet you can also take it out in heavy, gusty wind. Reefable perhaps; still handleable without jib -- something like that. Would the Lightning be the fastest of those above? Sail area, mast-height, versus weight, etc... Is it reefable? (I found one hit saying it was...)
Obvious advice: Join local sail club for $100 and try out a few weekends. Why don't I do that? I dunno. Just haven't. They race and fuss most weekends -- why haven't I gone down there? The local lake is painfully lame, for one thing, and I don't want to crew. Still...
Idea: I could help another pal fix his O'Day 16 (install new step) and borrow that -- might be an option, at least for learning, dunno what he'd think about us taking it for summer 1-2 months even as new co-owners.
I'd think the family would really like a "boat as fort/playhouse" a la Swallows & Amazons. Stability perhaps also a plus. This leans me to the Mariner. Yet I don't see much playing, even for kids, that can be done in that tiny cuddy. Yet it does have bunks, cupboards, shelves and such. Seems quite cute. But not like the "Death'n'Glory"! ...No table! ...But the kids could make it homier. At 1300 lbs (250 lbs internal lead ingots; 165-lb centerboard), it's not beachable...she's off the beach, right?
Martha also pretty much thinks that we'd never use it, don't have time. Well, we're not booked up, really. That is, we don't have things we've joined that oblige us to have a tight schedule. Yet, of course, the time gets filled to overflowing. So it seems to me that a little sailboat COULD find a way into nifty usefulness. Or get sold-on after awhile?
There's also the quick 2-hr outing notion. Maybe I should just get a windsurfer or Sunfish. Our local pal on the local lake has those, though. I could just borrow his. He has a Hobie, too. He's reticent but that's just his style; he actually doesn't mind. I guess I haven't felt comfy enough to just go and start using them, except once and that was fine. I'm pretty sure a few more-often uses would be fine.
So maybe I/we should start sticking the toe in the water first more often THEN think about which boat to get, rather than buy a boat then hope it's the right one and try to make time to use it.
Here's a link to a chart comparing DOZENS of nifty little boats: http://www.shortypen.com/boats/pocket/
An O'Day Mariner 19 just *off* the beach.
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