Buying in Venezuela or N. Brazil?
Jeff, if it''s $22K U.S. with which you plan to buy a boat (including repairs & outfitting) that will allow you to semi-safely cruise parts of South and Central America, then you will find few choices and will also need to focus as much on your methodology for finding the boat and surveying it effectively as on the boat itself. You simply don''t have the money to ''fly down to Trinidad'' e.g. and begin an open-ended search that might require subsequent flights to other islands while living like a tourist.
I''d suggest that your primary candidate pool are small boats owned by younger European cruisers who find themselves running out of money and/or are ready to return home and can''t find the time/money/desire to cross back to Europe. There may be a few American & Canadian boats that also fit your niche, but generally they are bigger, more systems intensive, and more expensive.
By definition for your price range, these cruising boats will be simple, older, and only basically equipped. Even so, the owner(s) have likely been ''living off of'' the boat''s previous level of maintenance, fixed lifespan of equipment, and making do with things not right simply because they had few alternatives. And basic work (a haul & bottom job e.g.) is not cheap there; extensive repairs will eat your budget alive.
Given that there MAY be a suitable boat anywhere in the Caribbean but you have little time and a narrow candidate pool, I''d try to concentrate your efforts in a few specific ways:
1. I''d work hard at plugging into the existing cruiser grapevines available on SSB. To do this you''ll need help from boats with SSBs who participate in the Nets (e.g. Cruiseheimers, Safety & Security, etc. - see link). I''d beat the grapevine bushes hard. (E.g. we found a fully restored 34'' sloop in the Honduran Bay Is. that the owner wanted to dump for less than you have. Yes, it was cheap...but what do you do at that point with no haul out or supply sources?) There''s a chance that Yachties out there will know of a few suitable boats...but communication at that point with owners will be difficult and a huge leap of faith will be required at some point by both you and them.
2. I''d try to exercise the existing publications and brokers as hard as I could. E.g. place a small ad in the Caribbean Compass and the Boca (www.boatersenterprise.com/default.htm) I''d call existing brokers where you choose to concentrate your efforts, and demonstrate my sincerity. At the same time, I''d be screening the brokers to the few deserving of follow-up contact - and I''d work them regularly.
3. Meanwhile, I''d lower my size requirement to 28-30 feet.
4. And...I''d work a 2nd job for the balance of the winter, adding to the kitty. In all probability you''re trying to do too much with too little, altho'' it''s certainly been done before with less.
Good luck...but get off the computer and begin sweating the details. You have much to do in the next few months.