Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Orleans
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I'd give the nod to the Catalina 16.5 just from the drawings and specs, it's got a little nicer lines and a bit less weight than the Hunter, may be a bit livelier and better upwind.
I'll chime in with the others, learning on a smallish centeboarder is the way to learn sailing. The best big-boat sailors are the ones who started in small sailboards or sloops.
There are lots of used boats in this size range, too--The O'Day Day Sailer and Coronado 15 come to mind.