Frankly, I don't think it's possible to buy more boat for less money than a well-cared for Tartan 30.
Plusses as follows:
- Accessible to sailors on a tight budget
- Well balanced
- Tons of fun to sail
- Sturdily built - possibly even somewhat overbuilt
- Outstanding access to engine and stuffing box
- Easy for one or two people to sail
- Lead, bolted keel (not encapsulated, like some of their era)
- They're handsome
- Plenty of Tartan owners out there, and there are good support nets through owner associations and listservs
As with any boat, there are some weaknesses, at least measured by today's standards. This list may seem longer than the plusses, but you should know about them - and besides, most of these reflect the design practices of that era, and things have moved along since then. I remain a fan of these boats.
- No bridge deck - a low sill into the companionway. You'll want a securely placed hatchboard in place if you're in lumpy following seas
- Cockpit drainage is inadequate should you get pooped (see above)
- The way the portlights are installed in the main salon just plain stinks.
- They are prone to chainplate leaks, especially starboard side.
- They're all at least 30 years old. How's that engine, really?
- The prop is about 6' forward of the skeg-hung rudder, which makes maneuvering in reverse downright exciting.
- Speaking of rudders, they're prone to water intrusion and eventual delam. It's repairable/replaceable.
- They were designed to sleep six, and they will. God help you if all six want to stand up at the same time.
- Best they don't want to eat, either. Storage space is at a premium.
- 22 gallon water tanks sound bigger than they really are.
- The head compartment is designed for no one larger than an Ewok.
Hey, every boat is a tradeoff. Far as I'm concerned the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Find a good one and you'll be pleased with it.