Thoughts on new boats
Jon, Mitch makes some interesting points. The Beneteau First series is a good line and a cut above their "female appeal floating condo" efforts. No offense meant to the hardy female skippers we know. I will, however, drag out my old saw..."why buy new?"
There are plenty of "previously owned" boats in the class you are talking about, just a few years old, and you don''t have to take the depreciation hit, haggle with the factory about flaws/problems, and so on.
Small cockpits...well, they come in handy when you are getting green water over the bow but if you don''t plan on doing that much and have a bent for leisure sails with guests that like to eat/chat in the cockpit, then you may need to look at those "condos".
Whatever is best for your needs and your sailing plans. Looking at used boats is healthy for the wallet.