My wife and I took the US Sailing 3-day basic keel boat earlier this year. We really enjoyed the experience and have been looking for our first sailboat for the last several months.
I have read many forums (this website and others) on the do's and don'ts of buying used. I also have several friends in the area that have a wealth of knowledge to tap into.
I saw that this website recently started a 'Westerly' section and it happens that one of the boats we are interested in is the Westerly 26 Centaur. I figured it would be good to introduce myself to the Westerly community and the community at large at sailnet.
There have been several threads and reviews on sailnet and other sites that have discussed the Westerly 26, and overall, it seems to have received positive reviews. Some of the discussions have been on its pointing ability, speed, twin bilge keels, general keel bolt failure, etc. Most of the threads have basically ended with acknowledging it is a solid boat that was made for harsh weather. Several folks expressed that the perceived deficiencies of the Centaur, are easily overcome by having a competent sailor in the cockpit - and this just comes with time and experience.
We have also looked at other boats in the 25'-30' LOA range. I would say that most in our area (Middle Keys) are either older live-aboards or project boats. Most of the live-aboards that people have for sale have not been maintained at all.
Anyways, the search continues. The main point of this thread was just an introduction. The near-term goal are to get our first boat and do some coastal cruising around the Keys. With experience, we are also interested in hitting the Dry Tortugas and Bahamas.
I may have a road trip in the near future to look at one of the Centaurs that is north of us. I just have to convince the wife that a 10 hour road trip would be worth her time