You know, that is a good point.
I personally would have no problem taking a Catalina or Beneteau (depending on the model on both) off the coast out there. Many, many people do it - but they (and I) probably have a LOT more experience than you do. From what I understand, Cam is ABSOLUTELY right about the waters out there. I also believe it is hard to make a harbor there in a storm (if you find yourself in one) so you will have to weather it at sea (which is not neccessarily a bad thing... but that is another thread). Still, it all depends on the boat.
I personally cannot imagine getting a boat my wife did not participate on... and LOVE! I think sailing would be come a drag in short order. If money is not a restricting factor, get a trawler. Nordhavn is TOP NOTCH (and one of my dream boats) and have done more circumnavigations that any other trawler I know of. They are the same people that made Mason's (the sailboats)... top notch yards, constrution, reputation, etc. I have met MANY of the people involved in their boats and have never been anything but impressed. It will give you a lot of living space and a very safe boat that will take the Oregon coast. Costs for a used one (46) start around the 500's. A new 50 is over a million and a 2 year wait. They are not cheap. ANother options would be Krogen. Argueably not as well built as the Nordhavn, but still a very tough boat and a little more of a comfortable liveaboard/cruiser.
If you want to stick with a sailboat (which I did), I see no problem in the mid 30's. You can learn to single a 35ish boat really easy. The hard part is just getting it in/out of the dock anyway. In general, the larger the boat, the more comfortable the ride and the easier it is to sail. My personal experience is that about mid 40's to low 50's, you really need a second hand... but this is more for docking than under way. Once your sails are set and you are "going", there is not much of a difference between a 30 footer and a 50 footer. With autopilot
's, etc, you can do most of the stuff yourself without a big problem... especially if all the lines
are led to the cockpit.
I have know some folks with a Tayana 37 up your way. Good, solid boat. THey weathered a storm off you coast on their way to SF and never batted an eye. Tayana's are relatively cheap... but again, the living accomodation is tight on them.
As far as your question about production boats making the gulf or islands or east coast, or whatever. Absolutely! Never a problem. That is really their design point... though some are less suited to it than others (depending on the model). Instead of beating up specific models on an open forum, you can PM me if that is your direction.
I would not be against Cam's advice on the blue water boat ASSUMING you have enough room and your wife is comfortable and enjoys it. Otherwise, I would really consider talking to people that live up that way and run the coast in a Catalina about it's positives and negatives in those waters.
The only thing you need to understand is that a blue water boat may be a "BIT" more forgiving in a storm than a coastal... but it is all still in the hands of the Captain that makes the difference. That is very important to understand. ANY sailor that has done much offshore on this site will tell you this: I would rather face a fierce storm in a hunter with an experienced captain and crew than a mild storm in a Valiant with an unexperienced captain and crew.
Get the captain knowledgeable and a good seaman. It might just save your life one day.