CATALINA 350 need input
A couple thoughts here:
You might look at the Hanse 371 or 341. Both look like neat boats on paper although I have yet to see one in the flesh. A couple other neat boats in this size range is the Beneteau First 36.7 and Dehler 36.
Front loading ice boxes:
There are very good reasons that boats traditionally have top loading ice boxes. First of all when you open a front loader when heeled under way you either need large fiddles on the shelves or food will spill out. Either are real negatives. The other issue is loss of cold air. Compared to 110 volt shore units, boat refrigeration is comparatively low powered and needs all of the efficiency that it can get. When you open a front loader, large quantities of cold air pour out and so you need to rechill the compartment with almost each opening of the door. This greatly increases battery draw down over a top loader or shortens ice life.
I also agree with you about the forward cabin being the ideal main cabin on the hook. many sub 38 footers seem to be treating the aft cabin as the main cabinb, but aft cabins on an aft cockpit boat rarely have the ventilation potential of a forward cabin.