Sounds like my wife and I are just a couple years ahead of where you are now.
Finding a boat....
It took awhile to find the deal, but it did finally drop in our lap. I watched the adds for a couple years, had all kinds of ideas about what I wanted, talked to several brokers, decided to listen to the one that told me that what I wanted was not what I wanted. I also thank my wife for insisting that I not buy a project
Other than small lake boats we had very little experience sailing. I had worked on a fishing
vessel a couple seasons. After a couple times out with the previous owner we took her out alone, rigged the sheets
wrong, stuck her in the mud, looked like fools at the fuel dock
....School of hard knocks and dirty socks,.....and reef early... At this point I've decided it's not so much how to tack, jibe, and keep wind
in the sails
, as it is to know the systems, and how to keep a problem at sea from being a mystery at sea.
When I first saw her she looked really big. I was suprised how quickly she got small. In a couple years when we re-up she'll be a great deal for some one like you.
Oh...and welcome aboard from another newbie.