HI all and thanks for your responses. seriously evaluating a 35.5. Two drawbacks to my mind, one smaller and one really giving me pause. The cockpit is comfortable and deep with only two small scuppers. that can be addressed. The companionway entrance goes almost to the floor of the cockpit though. If you take a lot of water aboard better have a couple of drop boards in place or better yet have modified the entrance permanently.
Engine access is a bigger concern. In my first look, I can't see how the thing is maintained. The stuffing box looks like it could only be serviced by removing the exhaust manifold (and you know thats not coming off easily). Anybody out there have a 35.5 they service themselves?
The point that is often missed, concerning the cockpit scuppers, is that the real equation is how the bouyancy of the boat relates to the weight of a cockpit full of water. The 35.5 is a big boat with a smallish cockpit, as opposed to some of the modern boats which are half cockpit!
It's worth having a couple of hatch boards in when sailing in bad weather, but I wouldn't be modifying the hatch, or the scuppers.
The engine access can be considerably improved by fitting a large access hatch in the cockpit sole, on my list of things to do. It won't help with the stuffing box but it does with access to the fuel pump, filter, oil filter, oil filler, thermostat, etc.
I get the yard to do the stuffing box when she's hauled for bottom paint. Access isn't my problem.