Re: Please tell me this is a nutty idea so I will stop looking at this boat.
My advice is to check the D.C., Annapolis, and Baltimore Craigslist (that's three separate pages) about as often as you check your email. Every couple weeks a boat comes up that would suit your needs. If you jump on it you can check it out before or after work that same day, and make an offer subject to survey before anyone else gets to it. I'll bet you could find something good for you at $6-8k, and put the rest of your budget in a slip/maintenance/furlough fund.
I'm also in the D.C. area, and I bought my first boat last year. It's a Cal 2-27 that has been perfect for our needs (family of four doing lots of weekend sailing and an occasional overnighter.) Right around the 27-foot range is where you start to see a decent amount of room below, and a real head with a door, if that is important to you.