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Looking for Advice on Lake Michigan/Chicago

Old 06-29-2020, 10:40 AM
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Default Looking for Advice on Lake Michigan/Chicago

Hey guys,

I'm completely new to boating (driven rentals and familiar with watersports) and am looking for advice on buying a small boat to dock in Chicago and take out on Lake Michigan. If there's already a good thread on this, please link me to it! I'm looking at used boats, and want either a 12-17' jon boat or similar fishing boat, or an older boat closer to 19' in the runabout style. I want the boat just to take out after work to unwind or for a couple hours on a weekend, nothing too intense. All of these boats are under $9k, if not way under, and I realize taking a cheap boat could be dangerous for a lake as big and windy as lake michigan. If you have any insight or advice on the questions below, I would really appreciate hearing it!

1) Would a 14' jon boat or bass boat make it out a few miles into lake michigan?
2) If not, would it be safe to take just around the coasts, or areas as close as the playpen, etc?
3) Are there legal requirements for boat size in Chicago? Was unable to find anything other than pricing for harbors and the need for a boating license.
4) Would a novice boater be capable of navigating the lake, especially on a smaller boat?
5) Any other advice on finding a used boat or an older boat capable of using in Chicago?

Old 06-29-2020, 11:50 AM
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Aside from a pontoon boat, a jon boat is the least safe boat on any Great Lake. MANY people often treat the Lakes as not much more than a big pond. They are small inland SEAS. Please don't do this. The question is not will a jon boat make it out a few miles . . . the question is: will it make it back.
Old 06-29-2020, 06:37 PM
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No minimum size limit , you want to be comfortable and hit up the lake . Start looking at the biggest boat that you can trailer or afford to slip. Aluminum 18 -21 ' with a newer outboard will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Most glass boats in that foot range are Inboard/ outboards and the outdrives can be a pain $$. They are usually older and can have rot in the stringer , deck or transom They will ride smoother due to the weight vs a aluminum. A USCG approved safety class would be a goid start before actually going on the water


Last edited by mr 88; 06-30-2020 at 02:59 PM.
Old 06-30-2020, 02:03 PM
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This is great advice, thanks!

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