You can pretty much circumnavigate Britain without spending nights at sea provided your boat is capable of getting into some of the quite small harbours around the coast.
The Brits are not so obsessed with size so sub 30' worked for and made good sense. Remember also that British incomes have been in the main and until fairly recent times much lower than American. So it has not simply been the cost of buying but also the cost of maintenance to consider.
See the thread on the four knot ******. Keep Turning Left (Geographically not Politically) . Not many Americans would even vaguely think of doing this.
Read the Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow.
There is a part , indeed there are many parts of the British character that are utterly commendable.
“Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.” Terry Pratchett