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 37-065) Poulsbo WA
Previously: New Moon (Bounty 257), C-Dory 22 Cruiser
"Cruising in a Big Way"