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TimBrown

Good boat for a biiiiiiiiig lake

20 posts in this topic

I currently own a Sunesta that I use on lakes in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. It's a great boat and has been a lot of fun for my family. 

I recently took a job in Chicago and want to get out on Lake Michigan. I think the Sunesta is too small and doesn't possess the deadrise I would like to have on that kind of water. I also don't want an open bow on that lake. 

I think I could go around 60-80k deer max. I don't have a problem buying used, but don't want to go too old. 

I've seen a few 280 Sundancers in that range. I am thinking a newer model with the 8.2 sounds interesting. 

I also like my Chaparral quite a bit, any thoughts on Signatures? 

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I think you should have written a new Chappy Sig into your employment contract!  You know what they say - if you don't ask...

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Had a 280 Sundance and found it to be lacking in getting up on  plane. The design of the hull is different than the Sig and would plow really bad. The 280 I had was beautiful, but the Sig wins hands down. I Think you could find a 280 or 300 Sig that would be better. 

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Lake Michigan ?  It is a fresh water OCEAN. Not a lake. 

Twin engines. Each one capable of running home alone. Fast enough on full plane if needed.

Post a question to other Lake Michigan boaters............. How big a Chap? What hull deadrise? How much power & speed with a load of people offshore?   What would you recommend 15 miles off shore? With the wind blowing you farther off shore.  It happens.

Those peoples experiences would affect what I buy. If too costly or risky ? I would find the nearest big enough lake to setup my boating..

Always take Toto with you for good luck.   :)

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A small cruiser would not be my first choice for big water boating. They tend to be top heavy and handle like pigs. 

I would look at boats designed for offshore boating. Probably twin outboards...

brick

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My family has sailed small boats on the Great Lakes (Erie, Huron, Michigan) for years.  You are smart to think bigger.  The largest body of water I've been on is the Chesapeake Bay with a Signature.  Big, windy, and shallow = quick buildup of swells and waves.  My Sig handled that water well.

I believe from keeping track of my 08 Sig 290 value that you might be able to find something similar (280-290-300-310) in good condition in your price range.  I am sure that there are lots of recreational boaters who use singles but I would go with a twin.

I agree that Michigan is a fresh water ocean.  It's north-south orientation lets the wind/storms really build up.  I would respectfully disagree that cruisers are not good in open water.  They might not handle like a multiple outboard rigged for offshore fishing, but they can handle the water and provide some shelter.  There are Chap users on this forum who make the run from Florida to the Bahamas in a mix of types.  I recommend you also post on the regional forum and ask those who live there.

 

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2 hours ago, brick said:

A small cruiser would not be my first choice for big water boating. They tend to be top heavy and handle like pigs. 

I would look at boats designed for offshore boating. Probably twin outboards...

brick

+1, a large cuddy cabin would be better.

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16 hours ago, drewm3i said:

+1, a large cuddy cabin would be better.

I'm curious what you mean by a large cuddy cabin? Does Chaparral make one? I see a lot of Searay's in the harbors around Chicago and figured they must be a pretty good boat for the lake. I don't think I've seen a Chaparral yet. 

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On 8/18/2017 at 5:39 PM, mpm330 said:

Had a 280 Sundance and found it to be lacking in getting up on  plane. The design of the hull is different than the Sig and would plow really bad. The 280 I had was beautiful, but the Sig wins hands down. I Think you could find a 280 or 300 Sig that would be better. 

I really like the look of your Signature. Was your Sea Ray underpowered? 

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before you jump in - go out a few times.  spent my whole life boating lake michigan.  unless you enjoy cruising from port to port on long distance runs I would bet a tank of gas that you never venture past 5 miles off shore, very few people do.  even cruising one of the best views is the coast once you get a few miles off shore there isn't a shore to see.  it is not like the ocean, when the waves are 3 feet or bigger they will pound you regardless of the size of boat (in a boat less than 40')  pleasure boating is great on LM on waves of 1-2'.  true the sunesta's dead rise is not as high for that lake as the SSX series, but to say no bow rider is not true again unless you want to cruise.  most people boat a few miles from their harbor and a bow rider will provide alot more sqft for outdoor use.  I had the 264 sunesta and moved up to the 327ssx for sqft and love the bow rider on the big lake.  i would never cross the lake directly on it but i wouldn't on a cruiser less than 40' either

 

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choice will also depend on what you want to do...

we have and love a 2005 270 Sig (which was called 280 later), with twin 225hp Volvo DPs.  We use it on Chesapeake Bay -- been through some rough weather.  For us, this size is great because it's small enough to still water ski, tube, etc. and big enough to serve as platform for full day of water activities, sleep family of 5 inside, carry an inflatable dinghy on stern, etc.  We often take trips to an Eastern Shore town 30 miles away -- easy 1 hour cruise in our Sig270 at 30mph (top speed is 45).  

When I compare the 270 Sig to my prior boat ('98 Chris Craft 245 cuddy with single big block Volvo dp), larger Sig size is not as agile/quick (kind of like comparing SUV to sports sedan), but 270 does better in chop and twin engines makes any dock handling a breeze.  Also, 270 Sig gave us substantially more room in cockpit (and of course in cabin) than our 245 cuddy.  When shopping for '05 Sig, we looked at SeaRays -- I didn't think they were as good as Chap -- e.g., SeaRay cabin had carpet, not fiberglass tub floor and was not as roomy (imo).

Going bigger will handle waves better, but has trade-offs in terms of watersports, acceleration and speed, etc.

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2 hours ago, TimBrown said:

I really like the look of your Signature. Was your Sea Ray underpowered? 

The 280 Sea Ray was a 2006 and had twin v-6 mercs with alpha drives. I know of some Sigs with the same engines and they seem to do ok. It just felt like the sea ray was always pushing up hill. I believe it is the design of the hull. Didn't see too many sea rays in that size that had more power. 

We love our 330 Sig. We bought it after the Sea Ray was damaged in a storm.

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Cabin cruisers are fine for the big lakes.  To get an idea of what is good for that body of water all you have to do is go the beach or a few marinas and see whats out there.  A lot of it will depend on what you want to do, stay over night, water sports, going to only boat in lake Michigan?

 

Some larger cuddys out there are the Chap 265 and 285SSi, Forumla SS(think they start at 26ft and go up up).  Sea Ray and I think also has one.

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Any boat will work on Lake Michigan, but you really need to ask yourself what kind of cruising do you desire (longer trips, just a party platform, maybe 20-30 minute rides to little beaches, etc.).

Back in the 90s/early 2000s, Sea Ray had roughly 7 dealership locations within a 200 mile radius of Chicago. That might explain the prevalence of the SR brand here.

If you keep a good eye on the forecast, an 18' bow rider will be just fine on a sunny day when winds are <5 mph.

Those idyllic conditions are rare, however, so that's when it makes sense to seek something heavier, perhaps with a second engine if you're going farther afield, to get you around in more comfort.

Chicago has a lot of boat traffic on weekends, so that contributes to a local wave factor (wind is still obviously the main influence).

If you stay coastal, one engine is fine; but if you want to explore other parts of the lake, and even cross it, the feeling of knowing you can get home on 50% power is a nice one. When you cross Lake Michigan, you cannot see land for the most part, and it's rare to even see other boats (except for the inevitable trolling fisherman who requires me to divert from my plotted course almost every single time, but that's just me being grumpy).

In general, I would only start with something in the upper-20 foot range and two engines. Some type of covering is good too, not only for sun protection, but sunny days with a passing t-storm can happen, so for the 30 minutes the rain is falling, it's nice to not get soaking wet.

 

 

 

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Tim-

Most of it has been said.  I've boated on Lake Michigan all my life from a 12' with a 10 HP OB, 16' I/O, 18' I/O, 24' Express, to my current Sig 310.  You watch the weather and do what is appropriate for the conditions and the kind of boating you want to do.  I went from the water skiing & fishing stage of life to now cruising with the Admiral.  No boat is inappropriate for Lake Michigan, only different Lake Michigan conditions.  Whatever you choose, be careful, watch the weather and have fun.  BTW, the lake can change from a sweet sunny day to gale force winds in a heartbeat.  I'm not kidding.

It was one of those events that caused us to upgrade to the 310.

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1 hour ago, bcboater said:

Tim-

Most of it has been said.  I've boated on Lake Michigan all my life from a 12' with a 10 HP OB, 16' I/O, 18' I/O, 24' Express, to my current Sig 310.  You watch the weather and do what is appropriate for the conditions and the kind of boating you want to do.  I went from the water skiing & fishing stage of life to now cruising with the Admiral.  No boat is inappropriate for Lake Michigan, only different Lake Michigan conditions.  Whatever you choose, be careful, watch the weather and have fun.  BTW, the lake can change from a sweet sunny day to gale force winds in a heartbeat.  I'm not kidding.

It was one of those events that caused us to upgrade to the 310.

yup well said even the fitzgerald went down in the great lakes, and from time to time its boats of all sizes having issues.  Its all about what you want to do and being careful doing it.

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17 hours ago, bcboater said:

Tim-

Most of it has been said.  I've boated on Lake Michigan all my life from a 12' with a 10 HP OB, 16' I/O, 18' I/O, 24' Express, to my current Sig 310.  You watch the weather and do what is appropriate for the conditions and the kind of boating you want to do.  I went from the water skiing & fishing stage of life to now cruising with the Admiral.  No boat is inappropriate for Lake Michigan, only different Lake Michigan conditions.  Whatever you choose, be careful, watch the weather and have fun.  BTW, the lake can change from a sweet sunny day to gale force winds in a heartbeat.  I'm not kidding.

It was one of those events that caused us to upgrade to the 310.

That's exactly why I want something bigger with a closed bow. I've been in Chicago a few months now and love the lake, but have noticed the weather can change quite quickly and get quite violent. I want something that gives me a better chance to get to safety with everyone fairly dry and happy.

I've been looking at the Signature 270's now and really like that boat. I especially like how the newer ones are designed in the cockpit, and the swimdeck with the back sunpad reminds me of the newer Sunestas. 

Have you been happy with your Signature on the lake? I know it's bigger than what I'm looking at. 

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the bigger the boat on that lake the more the lake opens up to you.  from your table rock pic w/ your sunesta the bigger boat will have a few drawbacks.  i assume you trailered your sunesta.  a few things just to consider while on LM.

1. slip cost (are you planning on slipping in the city or elsewhere?)  The cost to slip from 31st street and north to Montrose are fairly steep $$$ - further north to Evanston or south to the IN border are more affordable.  Hammond is a good middle point as it is a short boat ride to either the city or the dunes areas and boaters beach (favorite anchor spot for many boaters)

2. the need for bottom paint (maint of paint from year to year) - unless you like a furry bottom, you will need bottom paint

3. winterizing / storage costs (you are considering a boat that most likely isn't a garage storage anymore) - if you store in a heated location winterizing is basically just draining the blocks and few other items (less $$$)  if you store outside a full winterizing required and shrink wrap plus storage is $$$

4. add'l fuel  / insurance costs  - no real big deal here just wanted to share.  its a minor up charge but hey like others have stated "if you cannot put gas in the boat you shouldn't buy the boat"

Lastly, I went from a sunesta to the 327 and it amazing how much more sqft it has and how much longer it takes to wash and wax it.  when its in storage i need a ladder to get to it and takes me a full day to clean it and another to winterize it and i am in heated storage so i just drain the blocks and water tanks, & tender the batteries, oil, drive fluid, impeller, fuel filters

 

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We have been boating on Lake Michigan for 25 years. The boats that fit best for us that we owned were a 26' cruiser

and 31' cruiser. Cruiser would really get you the most enjoyment. .

 This  would be worth a look see, as well as a 270/280 Sig. Owned two Monty's and loved them both.

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Tim-

We love our Sig.  As a matter of fact we attend the Chicago Boat Show every January and since we have had our Sig, we return home after every show and say "we love our boat"  there really hasn't been anything to cause us to move to a different boat.

Good advice from delaney.  If you prefer more dunes than industrials, continue east around the lake and look at Michigan City Washington Park Marina.  Comparable costs to Hammond and a nice facility.  Boaters beach is closer too.

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