Best Family Boat?

Thread starter #1
I have two boats and only space and money for one.
1. 1980 Cortez 16' sailboat; good condition, just needs mostly costmetic work.
2. 1989 Sea Ray 19' Open bow runabout, 135 HP Mercury; needs engine tune-up, needs crusties cleaned off the hull/motor, may have wood rot problems; was in a slip and flooded because of rain. I'm not sure how long it was flooded.

A couple of years ago I was single and keeping just the sailboat would be an easy decision. I'm not very experienced with sailing, but I love it! However, I am now married with 3 step-kids who have no boating experience. The sailboat really only has seating for 4 topside, others would have to go in the small cabin. I grew up waterskiing and really enjoy it. I'm concerned that my kids (8, 12, and 13) will find sailing boring compared to the stinkpot.
On a trailer-sailer website someone suggested getting a stack of Sunfish and selling the other boats. I owned a Sunfish for a couple of years and have never had so much fun on the water.
Any advice on this?
Is it over-the-top to get 5 Sunfish's so that everyone can sail at once?
Can I realistically get 5 SF for about $1500 that will be in decent shape? I paid $300 for my last one and it was in decent shape; had a leak I needed to find.
I am pretty confident I could get a utility trailer and modify it to carry 3-4 boats with one another on top of my full-size van.
My sailing options are everything from Roosevelt Lake; 90 miles away, 22 miles long (great wind!). Tempe Town Lake; 30 miles away, very popular for sailing, 4-5 miles long. My neighborhood has manmade 'lakes' that are about 4 blocks long and pretty narrow, but are only a couple of blocks away (reclaimed, treated water).
I'd appreciate any advice.
My main objective is to build family time on the water while spending as little as possible!
Thanks!
 
#2
The only "pro" for the power boat is that it can accomodate more people for it's length than a comparable length sail boat. (too bad kids seem to find power baots more exciting than sail, normally). It sounds like a sail involves either a weekend trip or at the very least a "drivin" day trip. I would think buying a fleet of Sunfish or any other dinghy might be more hassle than it's worth, especially if the kids don't like sailing, it would likely take mountains of time and money to refit a bunch of $300.00 boats. Maybe the route to go is to liquidate your current fleet and shop around for a single lift or swing keel sailboat that will hold your entire crew. If the kids decide sailing sucks, you and your wife could still manage such a boat by yourselves. Just make sure that if you do buy a larger boat that there really is room for everyone or crew may get tired of being told to sit here, not there, move out of the way duck, sit down etc., etc. Maybe a fleet of mountain bikes?
 
#3
I'd just get one SF first and see how it goes over with everybody. A SF is real good for sailing in a small area, however, if the lake is very narrow and the wind blows down the length of the lake, you may be better off with a Butterfly, something small with a Marconi Rig. In fact, just get the Cortez out first and see what transpires. Chances are you'll find one kid may go for sailing and another has other interests or likes the Sea Ray and fishing.
 
#4
I was you 15 years ago. We started out buying a canoe for the 4 of us. We fished, explored, went to camp grounds, basically focused long weekends and vacations around lake activities. As the kids got bigger we went to a new 18' bow rider, having been around lakes now, we were all having fun with tubes of all sorts, day trips with big picnic baskets. We were having fun together. Vacations were getting real fun, everybody likes power boats!
I got a small Snark, for me, and anyone who wanted to go, (just after the new power boat). Not everyone wanted to go sailing, but it was there as an option, (I did a lot of solos). We now had an arsenal of fun( including all of the tubes, skis', boards....) Then I started getting the “sailing bug” I picked up some more sailboats, for me and /or extras guest.
The kids weren’t head over heals on sailing, but they would go with me every so often.

I wouldn’t go buy 5 Sunfish on the hopes that all would enjoy them. A mix is good.
Yours are all young still, I would get a reliable powerboat for family trips, and see where it goes from there. They grow up fast, and their interested start moving elsewhere, get them now, because when they turn 16 or so, they want to start hanging with friends more than family.
 
#5
"...I'm concerned that my kids (8, 12, and 13) will find sailing boring compared to the stinkpot..."
IMHO, 13 is right at the threshold where sailing could be entertaining: as the years go by, I'm seeing fewer kids out on the water—on anything! :(

If they are already accustomed to today's electronics, you might get some competitive DVDs (sailing lessons, racing, America's Cup racing, and such) that can self-tutor the kids and develop a sailing desire among themselves.

The more the merrier: friends could join in and prove valuable competitors as well.

"...Is it over-the-top to get 5 Sunfish's so that everyone can sail at once...?"
I have a Sunfish and a Porpoise, and have great competitive fun with visitors who like to sail. (Downwind is the only point that the Porpoise is faster..BUT! :D). I'm currently looking for another Sunfish to "even it up".

(Go for "the fleet"). ;)
 
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