I recently purchased a steel sailboat. and love it. Of course, I haven't used it for cruising...yet...but being a 1968 she is in remarkable shape. About a year ago, some of the bilge plating was replaced and I need to sand and preserve that. There are areas of light rust that I can see peeking through, mainly in areas where there are joints. I think it is due to the difficulty in getting in to those hard to reach areas (I am thinking needle gun). I intend to haul the boat this summer and give her a complete paint job. I think that will tell me a lot as to how much maintenance she will require between major refits.
As for sailing, she is heavy and slow, but rides the waves like a duck and the gaff rig doesn't point to wind well. Then again, I am not in too big a hurry.