Recommend cruising boats
Greg--You ask the age old question!!! Yes, there are other boats that would qualify for your cruising plans in your price range...probably LOTS of other boats. If you have an affinity for the IP and Tayana boats, you might want to check out Hans Christians, Babas and Pandas. I have a predilection for those type of boats...my second cruising boat was a Hans Christian 36 and my current boat is a Baba 30. One note, however, is that these boats are brightwork-intensive. The 3 years I spent in the tropics on my 36 was partly torture because of what the sun did to the varnish, and I could never seem to keep up. Some buddies of mine who have a Tayana 37 painted their bulwarks (after laying down quite few coats of varnish first) and so far, so good.
By the way, one boat that I suggest you check out is the Freya 39. Check out John Kretschmer''s words about this boat at http://www.sailnet.com/collections/articles/index.cfm?articleid=jkrets0060 (toward the bottom of the page). By the way, he has good things to say about the Rafiki 37 (a boat I''m not familiar with).
Two places to check out possible candidates:
Sailnet''s Boat Check area has owner reviews on a whole bunch of boats, and most owners are reachable by email. So if you see a boat that intrigues you, you can see if there are reviews for that model.
John Neal''s list of boats he considers good offshore candidates is a good jumping off place, as long as you keep in mind that John is a deep blue water cruiser, and if you will be staying closer to land, your choices might be broader. His list is at http://www.mahina.com/cruise.html#boats4cruising.