One good way (simpler, less expensive, good way to learn) to get into cruising while living inland is with a trailerable cruiser.
Utah isn't quite as cold as ND, but our boat is stuck here inside its "boathouse" 6-7 months each year. Before we retired we'd go for 1 to 3 weeks, starting on big lakes, then the San Juans and Gulf Islands, building our skills for wilder places. Summers now we generally do 2-3 months in BC and/or SE Alaska, still in our small cruiser. Not built for a big crew (sleeps three adults), but pretty capable.
Must admit our motorcycles have begun to feel neglected, however.
Dream Catcher (Nordic Tug 37)
New Moon (Bounty 257, Volvo KAD44P)
"Cruising in a Big Way"