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Old 09-24-2017, 07:19 PM   #1
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Default Good boats for Lake Erie

Hey All,

This was my first season boating. I bought a 1986 Sea Ray Sundancer 250. I rebuilt the engine and outdrive and its reliable for the most part. I've had it in the water probably a dozen times, and 90% of the time has been miserable. When the NOAA forecast says there will be 1-3ft waves, I might as well stay home. It's anything but fun out there on the Sundancer. It feels kind of top heavy and gets tossed around a lot. I like to fish and in those conditions I might as well be hooking my hands instead of the fish. So I end up putting around and not even getting lines in the water.

I have been trailering it since I live 5 minutes from the lake and I just upgraded to a diesel truck, so now I am considering an upgrade. Would a larger boat allow me to go out comfortably in 1-3ft waves? I don't really need a cabin since I don't have a slip, although it seems nice to have. What is everyone else running?

Thanks,
Max
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:50 PM   #2
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Lake Erie is tough. No matter what you get you will always need a bigger boat.

I used to boat western Lake Erie out of Gibraltar, MI.

I started with a 26 foot deep vee. After running the 26 from Gibralter to Leamington, Ontario in 5-7 waves I graduated to a 42 foot deep Vee.

On a 1-3 foot day the 42 was perfect since it spanned the waves easily.

While the 42 handled 5-7 footers better it was not exactly comfortable but at least the waves were not breaking over the bow.

One day it was 8-10's out there and I took one over the bow in the 42. That was a scary day.
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Old 09-24-2017, 08:16 PM   #3
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That's kind of what I was afraid to hear. I could realistically tow up to about 30' but if that isn't going to make the situation much better, I might as well go to a lower center of gravity boat like a center console and just take it out on calm days. I figure a lot of the problem with the Sundancer is its high center of gravity, and low power to weight ratio.
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Old 09-24-2017, 09:24 PM   #4
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What size trim tabs are on the boat? I have a 10' beam on my Baha 288 Fisherman & I can handle some big waves.
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Old 09-24-2017, 09:40 PM   #5
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Trim tabs are probably 12"x8" if I had to guess. They're hard to accurately use because I don't have an indicator at the helm showing their position. I did notice yesterday that when planing, which only happens on flat water with my boat, the starboard side is a lot lower than port. I adjusted the tab on the starboard to even it out and just left it there. That was probably the first good experience I've had using the trim tabs.
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Old 09-25-2017, 02:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by MaxThroughput View Post
That's kind of what I was afraid to hear. I could realistically tow up to about 30' but if that isn't going to make the situation much better, I might as well go to a lower center of gravity boat like a center console and just take it out on calm days. I figure a lot of the problem with the Sundancer is its high center of gravity, and low power to weight ratio.
Incremental steps won't do it. I rode in a friends 32' Deep Vee and while it was better in the 1-3' footers I was surprised to find it was not a dramatic improvement.

It was not until I rode in a 38 footer that I figured out that's what you needed to span the waves.

Keep in mind that I'm talking about boats with a 20-24 degree deadrise at the transom and beams of 9-10 feet. Your Sundancer will have a shallow deadrise compared to those which makes it more stable but tends to pound more in rough water.

The issue with smaller CC boats is there's nowhere to go when it's cold and drizzle or to escape the summer sun.

Try this before going boat shopping: When we bought our most recent boat we sat down as a family (me, wife + daughter) and made a list of requirements prior to shopping for a boat. We stuck to the list and finally found the best boat for our needs. Without the list we were getting off track but since we stuck with it we are all very happy with the boat we have now.
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:09 AM   #7
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Been fishing Erie and Ontario my whole life. Took 40 years and many boats to finally discover the perfect boat:
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:27 AM   #8
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Been fishing Erie and Ontario my whole life. Took 40 years and many boats to finally discover the perfect boat:
What is it, and why is it perfect for you? What weather conditions are you comfortable launching in?
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:58 AM   #9
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Try this before going boat shopping: When we bought our most recent boat we sat down as a family (me, wife + daughter) and made a list of requirements prior to shopping for a boat. We stuck to the list and finally found the best boat for our needs. Without the list we were getting off track but since we stuck with it we are all very happy with the boat we have now.
My decision making is a little simpler. Its just me and the wife and as of today she has zero desire to go out unless the lake is 1ft or less. I'm in the same boat there. We really just want something that feels safe and stable in 1-3ft. That would allow us to get in the water 50% more days of the summer. The other limiting factors are that I would like to continue trailering it, so thats going to make 30ft x 10ft beam the largest realistically. I also have to have outboard motors this time around. I'm not going to be yoga guy in the engine compartment this time around.
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Old 09-25-2017, 09:23 AM   #10
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I have a World Cat and it has been great for me on Lake St Clair where conditions get very choppy. I think you should consider a catamaran for your application as I think it would be even a better fit for that lake. You do not need to go bigger to take on those waves, you just need a cat.
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Old 09-25-2017, 09:33 AM   #11
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I have a World Cat and it has been great for me on Lake St Clair where conditions get very choppy. I think you should consider a catamaran for your application as I think it would be even a better fit for that lake. You do not need to go bigger to take on those waves, you just need a cat.
Wow, now there is something I hadn't considered. I remember hearing that cats were tough handling in choppy waters, but now I'm seeing differently.

Anyone else running a Cat on the Great Lakes?
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Old 09-25-2017, 09:39 AM   #12
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Been fishing and cruising Lake Erie and Lake Saint Clair for a very long time. Best boat for me is a 25'/27' CC. Boston Whaler, Grady White, Blackwood, Robalo, Scout. All with handle 2'/3' with ease, all are trailerable and have enclosed heads. Plus they're easy to take care of. I have a BW 270 Dauntless now. Hose it out everyday.
Good Luck.
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Old 09-25-2017, 10:17 AM   #13
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Wow, now there is something I hadn't considered. I remember hearing that cats were tough handling in choppy waters, but now I'm seeing differently.

Anyone else running a Cat on the Great Lakes?
Cats are new to this area thus people are not familiar with them. There are significant advantages in this hull design and you can look those up in the numerous threads on THT regarding this topic. Mine is a bit under 25 feet and I can take it out on the roughest days Lake St Clair can throw at me. I do not boat on Erie but I feel confident in my cat enough to boat anywhere. The best thing would be to ride in a cat to compare the ride to the boats you are experienced with.
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Old 09-25-2017, 10:22 AM   #14
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Cats are new to this area thus people are not familiar with them. There are significant advantages in this hull design and you can look those up in the numerous threads on THT regarding this topic. Mine is a bit under 25 feet and I can take it out on the roughest days Lake St Clair can throw at me. I do not boat on Erie but I feel confident in my cat enough to boat anywhere. The best thing would be to ride in a cat to compare the ride to the boats you are experienced with.
I wonder if depth is a difference between St Clair and Erie. From shore to the deepest, accessible to me, part of Erie is only 50ft. I spend the majority of time in depths between 30-45ft. I have heard that these shallow depths cause the wave period to be less than at greater depths. Part of the chaos of Erie is that you get slapped with a wave every 3 seconds... Would a cat hull still handle these types of waves better?
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Old 09-25-2017, 11:03 AM   #15
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Its just me and the wife and as of today she has zero desire to go out unless the lake is 1ft or less. I'm in the same boat there. We really just want something that feels safe and stable in 1-3ft. .
This is priority one if you want her out there with you. Happy wife=Happy Life. Listen to her wants and needs and make the list.

Begin with the end in mind. If She wants an enclosed toilet (head) put it on the list. If she wants a small cabin or even a large one put it on the list. AC/Heat, Generator, Hot water? Put it on the list.

Also outboards and trailerable are on the list.

Once you have the list go shopping with her. Getting her buy in without selling her is key.

Take all winter to shop and enjoy the process. I guarantee if you take your time and get her full buy-in she will spend more time with you and you'll not hear "I told you so".
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Old 09-25-2017, 11:06 AM   #16
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Would a cat hull still handle these types of waves better?
Yep. Cats are my personal favorite. Since they can be a bit wide, check the beam width due to your towing requirement.
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Old 09-25-2017, 01:10 PM   #17
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Been fishing Erie and Ontario my whole life. Took 40 years and many boats to finally discover the perfect boat:
Love those Steigers. Wish there was a dealer in Ohio. I'd be fishing one when I was in the market.
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Old 09-25-2017, 01:22 PM   #18
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What is it, and why is it perfect for you? What weather conditions are you comfortable launching in?
It's at 23 Steiger craft pilothouse. Pilot houses in general are the optimum boat for Lake Erie and Ontario in my opinion because half of the season is in really crap weather
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Old 09-25-2017, 04:59 PM   #19
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The new center consoles are amazing on Lake Erie. I've been fishing the lake for 40 years having several different makes of boats. Penn yann, trophy ,Starcraft and fished out of my marina on a lot of my friends boats. Had back surgery two years ago so wanted to go to something I could tie off to docks and get to the front. Bought a 232 sportsman center console and will never ever ever go back to any other type. If the weather is that crappy, I'll stay home. But, had it out 8 mile in 3 to 5s trolling and it was fantastic. Very stable for me. They built it with a 55 degree entry and 18 degree after mid ship. What a difference between anything else. Ran back to conneaut Ohio at 31 and it was a sweet ride. Very dry ride to boot. Can't eat all th fish one cache in a season anyways so weather is not an issue. Plenty of great days to fish without going out in crappy weather no matter what style of boat you have. And gas mileage can't be beat. I'll never go back to a gas gussling tub. Also, if you need a boat over 30 foot to fish Erie, A. Learn how to run a boat and B. Stay the hell home when it's severe.
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:44 PM   #20
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Stay the hell home when it's severe.
Very true. The captain is usually more comfortable than the passengers even in 1-3 footers however.
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