There is some benefit to wandering aimlessly. You can read all you want about different boats and their specs, reputations, etc. but there is no substitute for getting on as many as possible, pawing around inside, and starting to get a sense of what's what in terms of space, layout, construction quality, and the very, VERY wide spectrum of condition that you'll find.
If you've not owned or lived on a bigger boat before, much your list of requirements is going to be largely abstract and theoretical. Getting on lots of boats starts to give that list more substance and it will undoubtedly evolve as you progress.
This entails being a bit of a tire kicker
, looking at lots of brokers' inventory, and making appointments to see their boats. They'll want to show you quite a few, on the assumption that the more they show you the more they'll learn about what you really want and the greater the potential for an actual sale
. Take advantage of that.
In your price
range the primary challenge is going to be finding the boat in the best possible condition. Even 30' boats are expensive to maintain and refit
. It would be penny wise and pound foolish to buy a boat that meets most of your requirements but is poor condition as at that price point you can easily spend more than the purchase
price fixing old systems, fixtures, hardware
, running and standing rigging
. It would be wise to remain flexible and when you find a well maintained and cared for boat that is a good value but does not meet your requirements to the letter to consider it's purchase. The general rule
of thumb is to strongly consider boats that have just undergone a substantial refit
and are for sale
, for whatever reason (seller's health
, financial issues, change of plants etc.). That will give you the biggest bang for your buck as no seller ever gets all their money
back after a refit in a sale
At your price point you're not going to find any eager buyer's brokers, since they'll only make a grand or two and so won't want to invest much time in helping you sort through your requirements and find good candidates. But when you have found the boat you're prepared to make a bid on it would be worth considering retaining a buyer's broker at that point for protection, negotiation, and documentation/paperwork. They may be willing to take you on as you've done all the time consuming work
If you've never owned a bigger boat before, you'd do well to bring a friend who has into the process. There are a million issues to do with a boat's condition that an experienced boat owner can help you to identify and assess that you just won't be able to evaluate yourself, no matter how much you read. A decent survey
should catch a lot of things, but that's post bid and 90% of surveyors are just not very good. If you're a good marine engineer
, you've got better professional prospects than being the marine
equivalent of a home inspector.