It seems like you have the desire, experience and know-how to succeed at this venture. My guess was that you were inland somewhere surfing the sailboat classified sites only, which can work but is limited compared to being surrounded by boats on the coast.
As for which high-quality boats to consider, the list is really too long so you will have to evaluate each boat on its own merits. It's also fairly subjective as we all have our own favorites. Also, as I'm sure you know, a well made/reputable sailboat that has been damaged and worn-out is going to be worse than a lower quality boat that has been maintained and improved over time. When looking used these maintenance
factors become more important than most others over time. With all of that being said, I can see at least a few ways to evaluate the boats -
-by how well they meet your needs/desires - will it be comfortable and perform well where and how you use it? This may be the most important because with all of the labor/$ you will put into any boat, etc. etc. you need to love her on some level, and feel like she is the right boat for you. It's somehow a personal relationship
-by how well the boat was made and by the quality of the components - will the boat be safe, will it and it's systems/components be more reliable (relatively speaking), does it need a ton of replacements
now, etc.? This is where some would say that Hunter
, or any boat that has been sunk may not do too well.
-by how popular the boat is on the market - will it resell when you are ready to move on. You can forget making money on the boat unless you are really good and lucky, but there are a handful of boats that will resell much more easily based on their name, all else being equal.
There are a lot of other ways to slice it, and that's a lot of opinion etc. but may be helpful. The Hunter
would theoretically have met criteria #1, would have done poorly on #2 and #3 (my opinion, based on being sunk etc.. I used to own a Hunter so am not anti)..
There are a lot of much older boats like the ones designed by Carl Alberg
, the Cape Dories, Pearsons, Cals, Pacific Seacraft
, etc. etc. etc., which are solidly made but may need a lot or refurb
etc. In your price range and at your age I can see an older, solid boat being a decent option since they are more simple (cheaper) and solid (sometimes). You may be able to find one really cheap
, fix the essentials and then start sailing and fix or add on the rest as you go. This wouldn't work as well if you were off to circumnavigate, but can work if you are coastal hopping. Newer boats in the size range that you are looking at will typically be more complicated and more expensive either to purchase
or repair (pretty broad generalizations there, sorry).
In the end it depends on the individual boat you are looking at since each will be a unique case in terms of build/specs/maintenance/seller circumstances. It's definitely possible to find boats that were the pride and joy of someone who took great care of them until recently and that now have to sell due to life circumstances. I've seen cases where widows have really nice boats on their hands that they just want/need to get rid of but that they aren't interested in and don't know much about. The boat may have been sitting a few years and will need some work but is well spec'd and solid. It sounds like you've been around boats enough to have seen many of the likely scenarios. With the way things seem to go if you can put your $$ within easy reach and then stay out there, in touch and looking around you will find the perfect deal eventually and in this market it won't take long to find a lot of options. I'd definitely consider going to boatyards
to ask the yard managers/owners if there are boats like what you are looking for on their yard. They may put you into contact with owners of boats that have been sitting for a while, are behind on payments etc. and you may be able to buy a boat with a cash offer that the owner was on the fence about, was too busy for, or too lazy to sell. I know of some boats like this in the boatyard where I am now, though they seem to fall outside of what you are looking for.
Also, I'd recommend putting more thought into the size boat you are looking at. I agree that a 37+ foot boat will be more comfortable but if you are expecting to spend less than 10k to get going it is going to be a real challenge in that size range and may make your on-going budget
more of a challenge as well. There is a big price difference between 37' and say 32' in terms of on-going costs, etc. This is another broad generalization but unless you find a deal where someone is unloading a boat below market value my estimate is that it will cost around $15k at a minimum to put yourself onto a safe/reliable boat around 30'. Throw in a few curve balls or luxuries and this quickly jumps into the 20k range. If you are patient in your searching, have cash on hand and don't mind a little hard work you should be able to beat those estimates (maybe by a lot) but you make it much more of a challenge by adding on extra feet to the loa
you are shopping
Anyway,, there's a lot more knowledge and expertise here on the forum so you will keep getting great information as long as you ask questions. I'm not sure that any of this falls into that category but hopefully it helps a bit. Good luck in your searching,