I bought & lived aboard my 1st boat @ 22, 6 months out of college. And while admittedly, I had a LOT of sailing experience at that point, most of it wasn't necessary, or even relavent to my doing so.
I looked though a good number of boats, & found a 1977 Ranger
33', for $17K, in 1991. And I was fortunate in that the owners were a retired Navy Captain
& his wife, who were kind enough to write me, a new (broke) Annapolis
grad, a loan for the 20% down payment that the bank wanted, in order for me to finance the boat. As said couple knew that I was good for the $, & also were Very familiar with the why behind my finances. Having been there themselves at that point in their lives.
FYI, one gets paid next to naught as a Midshipman, & has ZERO time or opportunity to earn $ elsewhee.
And honestly, the picking the boat part was the hardest part of things. In terms of deciding on; want vs. need, & budget
. Despite having spent all of my life sailing. And literally being a professional mariner at that point (sail, & large vessels).
With the irony being, that after living aboard
for a year, I realized that I could easily have lived on a much smaller boat.
The only caveat to that iss, how much closet space do you Really
require for your Professional wardrobe? And how much of it can be stored near your boat, or at work? For once you get creative, & solve that part of the equation. There's not much in terms of limits, as to how small you can go, boat wise.
As to learning
how to sail bigger boats, sailorchic.34 has some of it covered. And over time, I "discovered" that the only real difference (mostly) in sailing boats one, or two sizes bigger than you're used to, is in how far you need to plan ahead for things.
That & you need to have thought through how to do the majority of the basics (on bigger boats) enough times, that doing them is 2nd nature, when it comes time to do them. Whether you'd planned to do X, or Y, right then or not.
Especially as, on bigger boats, you can't just muscle things by brute force, like you can on small boats. So you have to get used to using a boat's systems, & your brain, in order to solve problems. Ergo the thinking ahead, & thinking though things.
But it's not complex, rather, it just takes a bit of practice.
And honestly, bumping into most things with boats, at 5kts, rarely does much damage, but to one's pride, so... Go for it!
If $ is a real issue, & you need a 35'er or bigger, look @ Ericsons. As I routinely see Gen II's for $10K - $15K. Though of course they'll need some love. And if you want to go cheap
, & smaller, look @ Cal
29's. As well fitted out ones often go for $5K, sometimes less.
And one Summer, when I was 25, my Dad, a friend of his, sailed aroun the Great Lakes
for a month on a Cal 29
. With none of us being much smaller than 6', & 200lbs. And we weren't cramped for space, or short of spots to stow gear
- If you search on Cal
29's on here, you'll see a couple of in depth
writeups which I've done on them for students looking to buy inexpensive, quality boats. So, good luck!