20 Year Old Needs Boat Buying Advice
You do have a lot of questions....Here are some quick answers.....
Can you find a good cruising boat for under $20K?-
Yes, but you can expect to put quite a bit into it. Your boat repair skills will go a long way here but material and gear is not cheap. If you can keep it simple you have a better chance of making it.
Rawson 30- They are a mixture of the good and the not so good. From a construction stand point many of the not so good things are the kinds of things that a handy person can repair but from a design stand point these are pretty mediocre boats at best.
Some of the Pearsons that are around under $20K are reasonably good boats and certainly are better built boats than the Catalinas. Pearson has built a lot of different 30 to 32 foot models so you need to pick carefully since some are totally ill-suited to long range cruising. Pearsons generally tend to be more expensive than Catalinas.
Catalinas are very common.They can be bought pretty cheaply but are comparatively poorly built and when used rigourously can be a real pain in the butt to maintain.
Keel stepped mast:
In the size boat that you are considering a keel stepped mast is not a necessity but it would be a good idea to make sure that there is a solid kingpost and a well engineered tie between the mast and the mast step on a deck stepped mast.