Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat
Stede, I didn''t follow your association of cored hulls with fractional rigs and wouldn''t stay away from the rig preference simply because you seek a solid hull. OTOH I''m much less concerned about coring with a closed cell product like Dinylcell (often found in N European products) than in balsa, so don''t be too quick to categorize all coring as similar.
WHOOSH is 13M/42'' x 4M/13'' x 1.7M/5.5'' and is a Pearson 424. She has an extended fin with a large gap aft of the keel followed by a full-length skeg and rudder. Having had 3 full-keel boats before her (all smaller), I enjoy being able to maneuver this larger, heavier boat generally more easily because of that extended fin...and I would be unlikely to prefer a full keel again.
I''m sympathetic with your need to Med Moor in a crowded basin in a crosswind in a big boat; it''s not fun. But again, I think that a huge percentage of even the small extended cruising contingent need less boat than they think...and it''s only in the wide open spaces where all that tankage and load carrying serves a purpose. And it all costs more money - lugging around that stuff, wearing out bigger/heavier gear, and enjoying a bit less spontaneity and trying a few less things if your boat''s big and your crew small.
I''m not an eager follower of the Pardey Mantra and so not trying to sell the notion of a ''minimalist'' boat. The main reason is because I hold the view that the best cruising is that which is shared, which means the woman/women aboard need to find as much pleasure as the men, which usually means more amenities and lighter gear (because women have far more sense in these things than men do, it seems to me). So a ''middle size'' boat seems about right for me, for all but the Coconut Milk Run/Indian Ocean/South Atlantic crowd. 10-11M or thereabouts should provide comfort, adequate load capacity for even long passages (e.g. our run across the Atlantic included stops every week to 2 weeks), and accommodate sufficient systems to make life on board more than camping out.
When you next visit a 40''+ cruising boat, if you have the chance, ask them how large their freezer is. Chances are they''ll go on at some length about how much beef they''ve got stowed in there, or tell you how few hours their generator runs to ''pull ''er down''. That''s what the bigger boats usually seem to be about: systems, volume for ''stuff'' and the (false) sense of security it gives one to haul around a butcher shop rather than eat what the locals find acceptable.
Good luck on the search! It is in fact the very first part of your cruising adventure.