Small craft advisory. From Wikipedia: “The National Weather Service does not specifically identify what constitutes a “small craft”, although the United States Coast Guard informally assigns the designation to boats with a total length of less than 33 feet (10 m).”
I’ll throw you a text sometime this afternoon, if you want to tie up and hang for a few. I was thinking about heading down towards the lake.
This is a really tough question to answer. Big is relative, safe depends on the individual. I don’t like taking my 24’ out if waves are over 2’. It weighs about 5k lbs with a couple of people and fuel. Safe is all about being diligent about reading marine forecasts, being over-prepared with equipment, keeping an eye on quickly-changing conditions, and keeping the drinking to a minimum. Things are a bit different on a 10-ton boat, but those basic rules still apply.
But also, it’s all about experience in nasty conditions. Size doesn’t solve all of your problems when the swells get big. It’s like having 4WD in the snow. Yes, you are WAY better off, but you’re not out of the woods and it takes some skill and experience to not fuck it up.
As a one year owner of a fairly large 25’ boat, I would say don’t even bother trying to buy something that can handle rough seas (mine still gets a LOT of motion off wakes and small waves.) It’s really not fun even when it’s a little rough and windy. There’s plenty of nice days, no reason to go out when it’s nasty. I would say something in the 20’ range with highish gunwales would be the minimum not to feel like you’re ever in danger. Boat wakes will be more of an issue than waves on average.
Lake Erie is a big body of water. I don’t care how big a boat you go with when the wind comes up you’re going to want to stay away. Hell, Jason has a 38’ yacht and he didn’t want to take it out last night (with good reason).
My recommendation is start off with a used 21-22’ bowrider with at least a 260hp V8 (meaning no 5.0 carbs). Easy to find, trailer, launch and take 8+ people out with you. That size will handle the chop of the busy river on the weekends pretty well and give you an idea if boating is for you. If you decide you want to go bigger or get out of boating you can sell that boat for pretty much what you paid.
My wife and I take my 14’ aluminum utility boat out in small craft warnings all the time in the bay, but I’m not crossing terribly deep water. Wearing pfd’s. It’s really just a matter of experience, observed conditions, and personal risk/comfort threshold.
To quote my wife when we’re crossing:
^^ This too. Perfect place to start. Any smaller and you’re probably going to be miserable in any sort of chop.
^ Buy that and talk him down since it’s basically fall and he’s asking “13500 OBO” for a 1999. I bet walking in with cash this time of year there’s a lot of room for negotiation since he’s looking at sitting on it all winter now and clearly wants to pick up a bigger boat this fall while prices are down. Run it for all next summer. If you decide you want out of boating or want a different kind of boat sell it in the spring when prices are better for what you paid or maybe even make a little on it.
Same night Scott was out I hit my best as well. Have a few props I’ve been playing with. This was a bronze 2 blade 13 pitch that is a bit sluggish on the low end. I usually run an aluminum 2 blade 11 pitch that runs 1 mph slower, but much better for cruising / idling around. Trimmed up and some cooler temps I’m hoping for another mph, not bad for an old 50hp Merc.
I was up on Makinac Island a couple weeks ago and heard about Kid Rock rolling around the lakes in a 200 ft yacht. I had just missed it but figured this group might enjoy it. Pretty sure a little wake is not going to bother him.
I was thinking around 18ft or so, something nice to cruise on. One thing im slightly worried about is how to make sure a boat is a good one to get. Like make the seller at least put it in the water to make sure no leaks?
What brands are good to go with reliability wise, what engines do I look for or run away from.
I have plenty of time since its next year in looking to possibly get one.