I sail an Islander 32--the shallow draft model. She draws 4 feet even. I'm in FL right now, but my old stomping grounds were NC. I racked up alot of miles up and down the coast (not in the ditch, either), and I can say that having 4 feet of draft is an exceptional advantage. Being able to duck in the inlets up there (please don't try it without local knowledge up there) is real nice. Also, if you ever get the whim to sail to Bermuda, you can believe that having 4 feet of draft is a good thing if you hit the island at night (reduced pucker factor--some of you have been there--you know what I mean). On the sea, when the waves get steep she doesn't tend to trip on her keel, so I don't get those nice, half-sideways landings at the bottom.
In a bigger boat, say 37-40, there will be some concessions you'll have to make for a shallow draft boat. Most deep draft boats point better. Most deep draft vessels get better VMG.
I'll be honest here--lot's of people on the dock think I'm crazy. I singlehand, and I'm not afraid to sail in all but perfect weather because I know how to sail my boat. Most people on the dock never get out past the inlet, either, so you have to take some of the dock-talk with a grain of salt.
I also read in one of the posts that you have to spend alot of money to get a seaworthy boat. I think that's a misnomer. An Allied Princess can be had for under 35K--about 45K in sailaway condition, and I'd sail one of those anywhere.
Sorry about the long post. Good luck with whatever boat you buy. Not sure if I missed it, but what are your prospects sofar?