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Old 01-17-2017, 07:06 PM   #1
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Default Newbie on Lake Erie

I think my wife and I are finally ready to get our first boat. We have both been on and around boats quite a bit and I've driven them but not a lot of experience with docking. I'm trying to figure out the best style and size. It's the two of us and 2 kids just planning on hanging out on it, some tubing and low key fishing. I am thinking about 24-28 foot cruiser, but is that too big for a first boat? I will keep it in a marina so trailering it isn't a concern. Any other advice for me?
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Old 01-17-2017, 07:46 PM   #2
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There are so many boats that would fit what you are looking for that I really can't suggest one. I would suggest you visit Happy Days Marina in Port Clinton and ask for Jim. He can show you several different boats and recommend one to you. I'm assuming you are trying to buy a used boat?

Where do you want to dock the boat? I can recommend a marina that is the best on the lake as far as I'm concerned. There have been several posts from other guys that dock @ Bass Haven and I have been there for 14 seasons and don't plan to ever leave. www.basshaven.com

Docking in the same area that Bass Haven is at is what I would recommend. The islands area are great because it's a short run to most of the islands. The fishing is typically better for walleye, perch, and smallmouth bass.

I've been on Lake Erie for 30+ years so feel free to ask me any questions. I'm sure several others will chime in also.

Welcome to the area!!

Russ
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Old 01-17-2017, 07:55 PM   #3
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Thank you Russ. I will take your advice and check out Happy Days, we are planning a trip to the area to look at boats in a few weeks. My main question is; as a new boater what size is a good compromise between being able to control and dock it properly and big enough to handle lake sized waves and chops as well as sleeping the whole family. I live about 10 minutes from Fairport Harbor so I will be docking somewhere over there, we love the islands though.
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Old 01-17-2017, 11:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Erie Irie View Post
Thank you Russ. I will take your advice and check out Happy Days, we are planning a trip to the area to look at boats in a few weeks. My main question is; as a new boater what size is a good compromise between being able to control and dock it properly and big enough to handle lake sized waves and chops as well as sleeping the whole family. I live about 10 minutes from Fairport Harbor so I will be docking somewhere over there, we love the islands though.
You would be fine with either size boat. Of course you can handle bigger water with a 28' which also has a LOT more space than just 4' of length. A 28' with a 10' beam has much more room than a 24' with an .8.5' beam. If you and/or your kids want to stay overnight on the boat the more room the better. I've owned 10+ boats that I have docked on the lake and each boat had its positives and negatives. As far as handling the worst boat I have ever owned is the one I have now with a single inboard. It has taken me a couple of seasons to feel comfortable controlling the boat. If I was a newbie boater trying to learn how to control this boat would be a nightmare. Because I had a lot of boat handling experience I picked it up easier than a newbie.

A boat with twins gives you a lot of maneuverability and safety but is much more costly to run and maintain. A 24' with a single I/O or O/B is a good boat to learn how to control. I've owned twin O/B's, twin I/O's and twin inboards and any boats with twins is easier to control especially in tight areas and/or strong winds. The larger the boat the harder it is to ski or pull a tube behind because of the amount of water displacement.

I know a lot about boats from having so many and because all of my friends ask me to check boats out for them. Any boat that has sat in the water season after season will likely have a rotted transom, that's just the way is. I had a 30' Scarab Sport center console boat was pristine but when I put in a new transducer I found the transom to be nothing more than wet much. It cost me $6K to have the transom replaced. Fortunately the stringers were encapsulated in fiberglass cloth and resin so they were in great condition. Now days banks won't give a boat loan for boats older than 10 years old. I have almost a perfect credit score and enough money in the bank to pay cash 5X over and I still couldn't get them to loan me the money.

What are you going to do the most in the boat; fishing, boating, overnights? For fishing you want a boat with a lot of cockpit space to fish and you won't need much cabin, For overnights and general boating you will want a lot of seating and a decent cabin but don't need a lot of room for fishing. Give me more info on what your primary use is and I can help you narrow down a boat. Also a price range, are you planning on spending a under $30K, $50K, a used boat or new? Do you want to get a loan on the boat? If so make sure it's under 10 years old. Boat U.S. will loan money on older boats but they will only give a loan for $25K or more. Most lenders will require a marine survey so that is something else you will need to consider.

Russ
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Old 01-18-2017, 01:56 AM   #5
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I personally based on 52 years of boating on Lake Erie would definitely recommend nothing smaller than a 24 footer. 28 would be better.

Any boat can pull a tube. I even had people ski behind my previous boat a Bayliner 3055 Ciera. For skiing you do need something that can get up on plane somewhat quickly.

If you are going tor a single engine I would recommend something with either an Outboard or I/O. Single engine inboards are a bit more challenging to control. If you go with a single I/O go with a Bravo III or Volvo Penta Duo-Prop, much better handling with a single engine.

Yes, twins are better but use more fuel and double the maintainance costs.

Good luck with your search. And definitely check out marinas that members here are using they know the good ones from the bad ones.

I am at Trouts Yacht Basin in Bolles Harbor, one of the nicest marinas I have ever stayed at.
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Old 01-18-2017, 05:58 AM   #6
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There is no nautical rule that bigger boats are more difficult to control. It's typically the opposite, but as was mentioned above, other factors play bigger roles:

single vs. twin
I/O vs inboard vs outboard
Counter-rotating twin screw
Duo / dual prop (2 props on same shaft)
Windage, weight, balance of the vessel

The controls themselves can have a huge impact. A boat with twin engines and dual props will have impressive thrust at idle and theoretically be easy to maneuver. However, pair that power to stiff, awkward, imprecise shifters and the whole experience can change. Conversely, you can compare that to a boat with regular singular propellers but paired to smooth, precise shifters and that can be the better handling boat.

Bigger, heavier boats are less likely to get pushed around by the wind, or to list severely as your crew moves about preparing to dock. Have you ever seen a small boat with a bunch of people on it approach the dock and a 30° list because a couple 250 lb "helpers" rushed to one side to handle lines? The look on the skippers face won't be one of gratitude - I promise.

Also consider that your family will grow to resent the boat AND YOU if you stuff them into a boat without air-conditioning in mid-summer.

A sentence I doubt has even been spoken on a small, uncomfortable, awkward handling boat without air-condition at midnight in July: "well we're on top of each other and sweating and you're embarrassed about hitting the fuel dock with 30 people watching, but at least we got to pull the kids through the bay for half an hour."

My advice is to get a boat with smooth controls, good handling characteristics, SPACE and air. (and make friends with that family down that dock that has a jetboat)
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:04 AM   #7
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As RollerCoastr stated bigger doesn't mean harder to control. My first boat was a 32 carver aft cabin. I thought I would be fine docking since it had twins but it was so light and tall that it did what ever the wind wanted. That always created a stressful time when docking so it got to the point where we would only leave the dock on calm days.

After a summer of not enjoying the boat as we should we decided to get something else. We went up to a 42 Silverton and its night and day difference. The wind doesn't have much affect given the weight and the props are further apart since the beam is much larger. This makes it easier to swing when docking. I still run into moments every now and then but any boater no matter size of the boat will. In all honesty docking is just a controlled crash so take it slow so there isn't any impact.

If you are going to leave it docked and love the islands get something you can stay a weekend on. This means you need multiple places to sleep, a toilet, fridge, AC, etc. Thereby no tubing but you can get a dinghy with a 15-20HP to do that. My only other advice is get something you can grow into versus the boat that fits now. At our marina we constantly see small families start out small only to wish they would have started larger. If you don't have a boat in mind walk through as many boats as you can. Lay down on the beds, sit at the table, and check the storage. You will be amazed at how much room you think you have until you load it up for 4 for a weekend.

If you can wait, I would buy when you can have the boat in the water. That will allow you to sea trial it and get some general instruction. Our first boat was purchased from Happy Days and we went through Troy. The company is amazing and go out of the way to make you comfortable with your purchase.

As for docking if you like the islands look to dock around Catawba. I know you are close to Mentor but a two our drive in a car with a 45 minute boat ride to the island is easier than a 4 hour boat ride. Not to mention it is much cheaper.
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Old 01-18-2017, 10:17 AM   #8
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Contrary to the opinion of some, even a 21 footer is fine for Lake Erie IMO. I know from prior ownership of one and enjoyed it with the family for years before we jumped up to a 27 footer to accommodate overnighting at the marina or at the Islands/Cedar Point.

A capping lake is uncomfortable in a 21 footer as it is in a 32 footer. Just watch the weather and scout out forecasts/Lake conditions prior to heading out.

Where do you live and where would you like to find dockage?

BTW: Welcome aboard.
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Old 01-18-2017, 02:17 PM   #9
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Thanks a bunch for the information guys, that's exactly the kind of stuff I'm hoping to learn before pulling the trigger. It sounds like I should err on the side of something bigger, a twin engine is easier to maneuver and stay away from inboard single engine/single prop. We love the islands but being so close to marinas around here we will be keeping it somewhere on the Grand River. I will definitely check out Happy Days, two good reviews. Any other wisdom you'd like to throw my way I'd appreciate it.
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Old 01-18-2017, 02:30 PM   #10
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Take a Power Squadron or Coast Guard safety course.
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Old 01-18-2017, 02:57 PM   #11
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Huron Lagoons and Romps in Vermilion are both great marinas and very family friendly. Both have pools. We docked at HLM for years and enjoyed it immensely. Drive up docks and grassy areas with trees in front of the docks for picnic tables creating a park like setting.

We are currently at Romps and the only downside is the noise from the trains that pass by frequently. We do not overnight at our dock there for that reason. The marina is very clean and has great mechanics (Chuck and Jeff).

Good luck on your decision on whatever marina you choose.
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:35 PM   #12
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I'd check out Port Clinton a lot of drive up to docks easy to get to, traffic wise.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:14 PM   #13
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Take a Power Squadron or Coast Guard safety course.
best advice yet. I would opt for the Power Squadron course, personally. Maybe try to take one before you invest in a boat as you will be surrounded by very knowledgable people.

Not sure if I'd wanna be pulled on a tube on the open waters of lake erie. Sandusky bay or east harbor near the islands would be more ideal for that.

I'm not sure i'd go with something too big to start and not sure about twins. For one thing, every boat is a compromise and your first boat could quickly become a step up to what your really want or need. In other words, a lot of us really don't know what we want when we buy our first boat or we think we do but find out we didn't.

I would also consider buying used for the above reasons. A new boat will depreciate very quickly as soon as it leaves the dealer.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:15 PM   #14
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There is no nautical rule that bigger boats are more difficult to control. It's typically the opposite, but as was mentioned above, other factors play bigger roles:
I didn't read that anyone said bigger boats are more difficult to control or were you just confirming that the smaller the boat doesn't mean the easier to control?
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:38 PM   #15
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Take a Power Squadron or Coast Guard safety course.
I believe that is now mandatory for new boaters depending on their age. Great recommendation regardless.
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:49 PM   #16
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Thanks again. I am looking into boater safety classes and will schedule one soon. Here are a couple more questions: Any referrals for good marine surveyors in the Cleveland-Port Clinton area, Any specific boat makers to avoid, and how much mark up do the dealers typically have to work with?
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Old 01-19-2017, 05:11 AM   #17
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I didn't read that anyone said bigger boats are more difficult to control or were you just confirming that the smaller the boat doesn't mean the easier to control?
Right, I was just addressing the almost universal assumption of new boaters that bigger boats are harder to handle. (or that you have to start with a small boat)
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Old 01-19-2017, 05:20 AM   #18
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Thanks again. I am looking into boater safety classes and will schedule one soon. Here are a couple more questions: Any referrals for good marine surveyors in the Cleveland-Port Clinton area, Any specific boat makers to avoid, and how much mark up do the dealers typically have to work with?
Greg Group is out of Mentor. He's the guy buyers love and sellers hate.

I'm repeating myself from another thread, but keep in mind that the best choice of a marina isn't necessarily the one closest to your home,and in fact, if you choose the right marina, it becomes your second home. (location, location location) I drive past thousands of docks and cross a state line each week to get to my marina of choice. My dock neighbors represent 4 different states. Our winter dock party get-together was held in Pittsburgh instead of Sandusky, and it was a big gathering. The camaraderie and social aspects of boating shouldn't be under-estimated. I'll just ask you to keep an open mind when choosing a marina.
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Old 01-19-2017, 06:41 AM   #19
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Thanks again. I am looking into boater safety classes and will schedule one soon. Here are a couple more questions: Any referrals for good marine surveyors in the Cleveland-Port Clinton area, Any specific boat makers to avoid, and how much mark up do the dealers typically have to work with?
I'd stop in to South Shore Marine in Vermilion. They carry quality lines of boats and a good selection of used boats as well.
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Old 01-19-2017, 07:23 AM   #20
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I'd stop in to South Shore Marine in Vermilion. They carry quality lines of boats and a good selection of used boats as well.
+1 Their used inventory is always clean.
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