Wow, only 3 boats in So Cal that are suitable? It seems like there should be much much more available; although I understand the situation regarding slip availability. Something you might consider is getting on the wait list for a non-purchased slip and while you are waiting take your time in finding the "right" boat. Even if you do more looking and kicking fenders you might run across the boat that fits your needs rather than a boat that fits in terms of the slip or mooring it comes with. The three boats you mention are entirely different in design and sailing characteristics. It seems to me that you have not narrowed your search to the particular type of boat that will fit for your long term needs; but rather have chosen based on slip/mooring availability. More often than not this is a bad position to put yourself in when it comes to buying a boat.
With only beginner sailing experience I think you should do more chartering, start looking at different brokerages and go to Strictly Sail Pacific next year; look at different boat designs and attend as many seminars as you can. It will really help you narrow down the type of boat you will want, and help you learn what boat/equipment you will need to go cruising. I don't consider a Coronado 40 or Cat 36 particularly well suited for offshore use. Daysailing in SoCal is generally light wind (in summer). If you want to mostly daysail you will be better off with a performance oriented boat but it also will probably not be your ideal cruising boat. This again is where chartering might be a wise decision until you have the experience. SailTime as owners might be an option but again the offshore performance of a 36-40' Hunter won't be very well suited to your goals.
Remember, once you move aboard your ability to go sailing also gets reduced 10-fold. You have to pack up your life before you leave the dock or mooring. As for living aboard on a mooring; probably good practice for when you are cruising but for everyday life I would say that it would be a BIG hardship (dingy to/from shore rain or shine, cat and parrot care, the uncomfortable feel of a rocking boat, boat repair/maintenance, keeping your batteries hot: solar/wind power required or you will constantly be running an engine or generator). I think your quality of life would be MUCH better if you lived dockside; but still you might not find it a palatable long-term lifestyle. I know one couple in my area that made it about 1 year aboard a 38' boat with cat and are now putting the boat back up for sale. The boat almost never left the dock.
Last edited by KeelHaulin; 10-11-2007 at 01:19 AM.