Lots of good advice out there from seasoned sailors. Now that you have expressed your interest in a smaller boat, you need to read a couple books
from Lynn & Larry Pardee. Go to Amazon and look through their list of books
. They are the ultimate small craft sailors and have strong convictions of keeping the vessel small, simple but blue water
capable. I think you will gain much insight from their knowledge.
Smaller means easier to handle and WAY more affordable to buy and maintain. You pay a bit in storage
volume and some in comfort, however, there are some small boats out there that are robust and capable. Make sure whatever boat you get, you have sufficient tankage for water
The Nor Sea 27 is a stout boat designed by Lyle Hess. Most have good tankage. There is one in Yachtword.com located in Galveston, TX. It has 35 gallons of fuel
and 100 gallons of water....outstanding for this size vessel.
Another great affordable vessel is the Cape Dory
. Look for the 28-30' models. Well proven vessels and decent tankage (water is 60 gallons, which should be your minimum). You can buy these from 20 to 25K.
Another rubust small vessel is the Pacific Seacraft
Mariah 31. It also has good tankage, built strong, lots of storage
volume and one of the classic vessels that is still in business today. They don't come cheap
but tend to hold their value.
Check out the Allied
32. It was made in NY and they produced several different models. They were strong, well built and have done ocean crossings. They are affordable and comfortable.
I believe all these vessels were full keel
with skeg held rudders. This is what you want in an ocean boat. They don't run as fast as fin keel
boats and don't point as well buy they make up for it in strength and reliability
. There is nothing worse than loosing a post held rudder
out in the middle of the ocean!
ANY vessel you consider buying
should be surveyed by the toughest professional you can find. Never ask the broker who should do the survey
. Not all surveyors are good. I made a huge mistake in one of my early boat purchases by not qualifying my surveyor
. I ended up with an unsafe vessel which cost thousands to make right. I tried to go after the surveyor
but the cost to fight him equaled the cost to repair.
If you live where there are some yacht clubs, go visit with them and meet some of the members. Most sailors are happy to teach new people in this "art". You need to gain some experience and this is the cheapest way to do so.
Best of Luck. You are about to change your life.