I think I know the $18K steel boat you're mentioning, currently in florida
. A Dutch design ketch, I think it once went to Haiti
too. The previous survey
said the hull
has taken a beating. It will also turn into one hot oven
The only reason to go with steel is the supposed safety
factor, if you bash into something. However you really should not be bashing into things in the first place, nor is that a real issue for most sailors unless you're in uncharted waters or dealing with floating hazards like icebergs.
A 38 footer will be too small to carry the sails
necessary for the weight of a steel boat, which is why generally 40 foot and above is recommended for steel. In high latitude waters.
Remember, there is also safety
in being able to get the heck out of the way of things (storms, other boats, reefs) quickly, instead of bashing into them.
Plastic is also far easier to repair (welding will never be as easy as mixing up some epoxy) and you don"t have to worry about rust or plate wastage. There are older boats under 40 feet in fiberglass which are in the same price
range, but which may require fixing a few soft spots (not such a big deal, actually) Fixing boats is a constant chore anyway, why make it harder by fighting rust on top of it all.