Re: Monohull What to do
With a kid, I think a slip makes a lot of sense. A Catalina 27 or Catalina 30 would be a good first monohull. They may not sail as well as some others, but you'll have a great support network and the boats are comfortable. If you really want something that's still trailerable, a C25 is a nice boat, too. 4 is about the max that I'd sail on a 25 regularly, but it's comfortable at that level of occupancy. The 27's cockpit isn't much bigger than the 25's, but the cabin is bigger and a little more comfortable. The 30 has a much bigger cabin and cockpit. You also transition from an outboard with the C25 to an inboard with the C30 (the 27's go both ways, depending on the boat). The C30 is going to be very heavy compared to what you're used to.
Catalinas are what they are - they are decent boats that are built to a certain price point. Some don't like them, some love them, for that reason. I don't know that I'd want to take an older, stock Catalina from the US to England, but for day/weekend sailing in comfortable conditions, they should be OK. The trick will be to find one that is in good shape - at your budget you'll be looking at older boats, and the temperment of the previous owner(s) will have more to do with how the boat behaves, and how reliable it is.
All that being said, might I suggest that you sit down and define what you want from the boat? There may be other brands out there that would fit your needs and still fall in the same price range. Things to consider include:
* Depth in your local sailing area
* Tidal swing
* Number of bridges in your area and their height
* Primary intended use: day sailing, weekending or longer cruising?
* Typical number of expected people aboard?
* Engine type preference (inboard/outboard)?
* Maximum length you'd consider?
* Minimum length you'd consider?
* Sleeping arrangements/cabin layout preference (e.g. dinette vs settee)?
Once you have that set out, I'd suggest perusing Craigslist and Yachworld to get a sense for what's available in that market. Then spend some time on SailboatData and SailingTexas getting a sense for what the boats look like, inside and out, and decide what you think will work for you. You may wind up back at the Catalina (I was really surprised/impressed with the C30 the first time I was aboard one), but at least you'll have done your research and can feel confident that you haven't missed much.
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