34'''' - 38'''' Coastal Cruiser - My wants vs. my needs.
rkirby, just came across your inquiry. I am in the same process although I have been sailing J boats for the last 20+ years. First, a J40, now a J28,and looking to move back to a J40 as my coastal cruiser. Type "J 40" + "owners" into Google, and you''ll find out why. I have the same struggle with "bloodlines", looks, and performance you do. Every time I''ve bought a boat, I''ve struggled between a beautiful Bristol with the long overhangs vs. performance without the clorox bottle look. Each time I''ve opted for a J--you might consider the J34c, J37c, or the J40. All can be found within your budget, all sail well, and can do coastal stuff. My alternative at the other end is a Bristol 35.5 or 38.8 [or sister ship, Little Harbor 38]. These are classic cruising boats with beautiful woodwork above and below decks. If you''re good with older boats, no problem. This "newer" generation of Bristols is a step above the older but prettier boats you are talking about and perform better--but are a long way from the kind of performance you would get from a J. A middle ground: read about the Sabre 362. It''s stiff, very roomy for a couple with a huge head, and sails well. It has a small transom platform for dealing with the dinghy and motor--something all cruisers struggle with.