Ideal SW Florida "pocket?" cruiser under 27'?????
I've never posted to the forum but have been reading up on here for a few months. I recently relocated here from Minnesota and I'm trying to get out on the water here. I've sailed on a bunch of smaller boats on lakes in MN including Lake Superior, but I still consider myself a novice especially to salt water.
I'm looking for a small, but capable, suitable for beginner etc...sailboat. In order to afford the slip rental, which is pricey here, I can't have a payment for the boat so I'm looking in the 5-10k range. My home port will be St. Petersburg. I found a slip on Boca Ciega for $300/month as long as it is under 27 feet then it jumps to 450. I'm looking for something that I can take down to Sarasota or around the bay or maybe to Ft. Myers on Vacation or stuff like that. I'd also like to go offshore up to 10 miles or so for some fishing and scuba diving on some of these manmade reefs and wrecks outside of Tampa.
Can anyone give me some ideas on which types of sailboats to go for? I've looked at a hunter 25, pearson 26, bristol 24. The hunter was the cheapest but I have doubts about what it can handle offshore. Having no offshore experience I really don't know what "offshore" really means. Not looking for a passage maker but might want to take some trips up to Crystal river and as far down as Sanibel.
If I watch the weather carefully should I be really concerned about taking a hunter 25 or a J24 offshore?
Any Ideas or personal experiences around Tampa in small boats greatly appreciated.