Hello David and welcome to the forum :-)
Your question of which is the better boat for a neophyte is difficult to answer because a man's relationship with a boat is as multifaceted as his relationship with a woman. As the French say: “Chacun à son goût”.
You are a young man, you say. You may be independently wealthy as many members of this forum appear to be, but it is more likely that you earn you keep by the sweat of your brow. My comments are based on that premise, and my first bit of counsel therefore has little to do with what KIND of boat you should buy. It is, IMO, absolutely fundamental to building a happy cruising future that you do NOT – ever - pay more money
for a boat than you can walk away from with a smile still on your face! In practical terms that means that you should probably pay no more than, say, $5K for either of the boats you are contemplating! You may not get either of these particular boats for that modest sum, but if you till the “boats for sale” ads diligently, you WILL be able to find equally suitable boats for such a sum.
Once the boat is yours, count on spending 3K to 5K a year on her upkeep.
Now for the boats themselves: The Tartan is designed by a firm of naval architects of high repute, the Kells by an unknown quantity, and there were not many built, I don't think. The Tartan's basic design parameters are slightly better than the Kells', but for a beginner that has little significance. I would, nevertheless, expect the Tartan to sail and to handle better than the Kells. As for interior
arrangements, that again has little significance for a beginner. You learn to be comfortable with what you have – and to modify it as you go :-).
A boat this size is very easy to handle, and you have a few courses behind you, you say. I would be very surprised if those courses were not given on boats of this size, so you have nothing to worry about there. For my money, a tiller-steered boat beats a wheel-steered boat hands down until you are into really heavy boats where the forces manifesting themselves in the tiller tax the physical strength of a well-grown man. Just when that will occur depends on many things, but principally on how well the boat trims out when on the wind
. You can be fairly confident that a Sparkman and Stephens designed boat, which is what the Tartan is, will trim well unless someone has been muckin' with 'er during her life. So again, the Tartan scores.
Returning to the question of money: “Frozen snot” hulls (fibreglass) are nearly indestructible, and age is therefore of little consequence. My own boat is a 1983 model, and she'll certainly outlive me :-) The fly in the ointment, when you are talking 40-year old boats, is always the engine
. The Tartans came, if I'm not mistaken, with the universal “Universal Atomic 4”, but the one you are contemplating has a diesel, you say. Ascertain when it was installed and investigate its condition carefully. A new replacement, say a Kibota based, marinized engine like a Beta 20, installed, would cost about $15K, so budget
for that sum to be spent within the next five years for certain, but maybe within the next year!
Beyond that, to be a frugal, happy boat owner, regardless of the make or size of your boat, you need, sez Don Casey, author of This Old Boat with whom I concur, to have some modest competence as a workman in each of these areas:
1. Fibreglass work
You don't have to be a whizzard in every one of these areas right off the bat, but you do have to begin to develop competence in each of these disciplines.
All the best