Welcome to the forum. Good step going small, and getting in some time sailing. Use the boat as much as you can. As your skills move forward then you too move forward in stronger weather
I took 40 hours in lessons, and then bought my first boat. A 30 ft Columbia
. I am from the S.F. Bay Area, so my skills were sharpened there. In the beginning there were days I would not go out, because I felt it was above my skills. In 18 months I felt I had enough skill I left alone for Mexico
. I survived it, and returned to Calif. wanting a bigger boat.
Why bigger you might ask. First I was in some snotty weather
, and longer waterlines were already in a safe harbor while I was taking a beating. 2nd you will find that for most people more room makes them happier. Me being one of them. Some do cruise
for years under 30ft, and I admire their decision.
My thinking is get as large as you are comfortable with, and can afford to upkeep. Only you can make the decision what footage that is. Boat berthing is by the foot, so if you pay $300 for a 30ft boat. You will pay $450 for a 45 ft. boat. It does cost much more to maintain a larger boat, because you have larger parts
BEST WISHES in fulfilling your dream, and finding the proper boats to serve you well.....i2f