Latest Sailing Gear Reviews

Sailing Learning Center

1 2

Sailing Archives

1 2

What boats have I owned?

I tried to come up with every boat I’ve had so far.

  • MFG Bandit 15
  • Sunfish #1
  • JY15
  • Laser #1
  • 1974 Catalina 22
  • 1986 Catalina 27
  • 2003 Catalina 310 – this one was dad’s boat.
  • Sunfish #2
  • 1980’s Hobie 16
  • 1970’s Force 5
  • 1990’s Zuma
  • 1980’s ODay 25
  • 1984 Catalina 27 – heavily storm damaged when I bought it
  • 1973 Seafarer 31 Yawl
  • 1987 Hunter 28.5
  • 1983 Lightning
  • 1983 Hunter 34
  • 1994 Catalina 320 – What I’m currently sailing

My sailing story

I learned to sail with my dad at Stone Valley Recreation Area in central Pennsylvania when I was in middle school. We took lessons one weekend and got our cards so we could rent Sunfish on the little lake there. After that we got a 15 foot, 2 person dinghy and took it racing at Lake Glendale. We picked up our own Sunfish so we could race that also. After a few years we took a bareboat chartering course from Annapolis Sailing School and we did some chartering on the Chesapeake Bay on a few boats. The first boat we chartered was a Hunter 28.5. My favorite was a Catalina 320 that we chartered several times.

I went to college at Penn State and joined the sailing club. We travelled to other schools in the MAISA district to race on weekends. Races were typically held in 420’s or FJ’s. I got a summer job teaching children’s sailing at White Bear Lake, in Minnesota. I got my US Sailing Level 1 instructor certification. I did some racing on E-Scows while I was out there. Next summer I got a job at SailNewport, in Newport Rhode Island teaching kids sailing again. I did my first big boat racing out there on a New York 36.

After I finished college I moved to Michigan near Detroit. I picked up my first cruising boat. An old 70’s Catalina 22. I kept that for 1 summer and then upgraded to a Catalina 27 with a diesel and wheel steering. I got into racing on big boats here and did a couple Port Huron to Mackinac races and a couple of Chicago to Mackinac races as well.

After the Catalina 27 life happened and I got back into sailing smaller boats and windsurfing for a while.

Eventually the big boat bug bit again and I picked up an old Oday 25. While sailing that I saw a Craigslist ad for a really cheap but very damaged 1984 Catalina 27. Not one to turn down a potential bargain, I picked it up. I spent the rest of that summer fixing it up and making it nice again. This was after being told by several people that it had no chance of ever seeing the water again. It did.

After sailing the Catalina 27 for a summer I got 2footitis and started looking for a Catalina 30. I saw a listing for a Seafarer 31 Yawl that had nice classic lines similar to a smaller Hinkley Bermuda 40. They had the same designer. I bought it. I did a ton of restoration on it. I hated sailing it. I went back to browsing Craigslist ads and found a dirt cheap Hunter 28.5 in some guys backyard an hour or so from the water up north. I went to see it and it was in really good condition. I bought it and sold the Seafarer. I got it back down to Lake St Clair. I had a bunch of fun with this boat and did a solo trip to Cedar Point and back in some very high wind conditions.

After this I decided to make a change back to small boats again. I got talked into racing Lightnings by someone I was crewing with on C&C 110. I sold the Hunter 28.5 and picked up a Lightning. After a couple of summers, I remembered why I don’t like racing my own boats that much and like crewing better. I sold the Lightning and went searching for a big boat again.

Then came COVID19 and the used boat market went crazy. I spent a few years looking without finding anything affordable that wasn’t junked. At this point it’s become clear that a lot of the boats built in the 1980’s are getting past the point of no return for restoration. I went to see a Pearson up north and it was the worst boat I’ve ever looked at. The deck was completely rotted. You could probably yank the lifelife stanchions off by hand if you wanted to. I was really frustrated on the drive home.

When I got home I saw a listing for a 1983 Hunter 34 that was cheap and not that far away. I went to see it and found a nice boat that was owned by someone getting too old to take care of it anymore. The boat had a lot of started projects but not many finished projects. The deck gelcoat was very worn through from being given too many scrubbings with Softscrub over the years. I made an offer and the seller was nice and knocked some more money off because he liked us. I went to work and painted the deck and finished most of the projects that the prior owner started but never finished.

At the end of the season we listed it for sale for a lot more than we paid for it to see what would happen. We got a full price offer right away. We turned a several thousand dollar profit on that boat and went back to searching for a Catalina 34 or 320 which is what we really wanted.

I spent another summer looking for a boat. I found 1987 C&C33mk2 that I loved the looks with. To make a long story short. I made an offer with the broker. The broker ignored it. I tried again a few months later. The seller accepted it. I dropped out of the deal after the broker left me sitting in the pouring rain for several hours while I found every leak in the boat and thing wrong with it. That was in October so I gave up looking until the following spring.

This brings us to 2023 and the used boat market has finally started returning to reality. I tried to buy 2 Catalina 320’s from brokers and both sold very quick. I found another one on Facebook Marketplace on Lake Michigan across the state. Finally success. I bought a 1994 Catalina 320 which I have been wanting since about 1995 when we chartered one in Maryland a couple of times. I paid someone to move it by water around Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to get it back here. That brings us to now. A new boat with a lot of new projects to do.

Our Boat

We have a 1994 Catalina 320 that we keep on Lake St Clair in Michigan.