I'm a Cal 22 owner also.
I own a 1986 Cal 22 also. It's a great sailing boat, and you said you nearly bought a Sabre 28, which is a nice boat, but I think that you should know that I've raced against a Sabre 28, several times, on Wednesday Night races, and my Cal 22 sails much faster, both up and down wind than a Sabre 28. The Sabre 28 has a very short boom and has a very small mainsail, and seems to sail poorly, even though it is a well-built boat and you can get one for a pretty good price. Another nice boat is a mariner 28, which is a lot of boat for the money, and sails very well. I've owned a Catalina 27, also, which is a lot of boat for the money, but you need to buy the newest one you can afford, because they made a lot of improvements every year. I've seen Catalina 27s in the 1985-built time frame for about $12,500 dollars and they had a diesel engine and wheel steering, with a lot of room below, and they sail well.
By the way, the Cal 22 sails so well (unless you have the shallow draft model) because it has a modern hull and keel shape and a long waterline (20 feet) and an excellent sail plan, unlike older boats with shorter booms, or really old boats with short masts and long booms.