Please help a novice sailor choose a boat.
Hi! My name is James and I'm stuck in the desert right now. I'm in the army but soon after my tour is over I'm going to find myself with a lot of time on my hands, because I'm getting out.
I've been an avid powerboater for years but lately, perhaps because I'm getting older, I seem to spend a lot of my time on (rented) powerboats watching the sailboats cruise around belton lake. My favorite sound in the world is the gentle metallic clinking noise of hardware tapping against a mast. I've been on several sailboats but have never actually sailed one myself. Long story short, soon I'm going to be in the market for a boat myself because rental fees are just ridiculous. Especially when one spends as much time on the lake as I do.
My original plan was to buy a 30ish footer that I could live aboard and try to learn to sail on the weekends, but after reading so much on this site and others, I've decided that's just not the way to go. Not because I don't think I could self-teach myself to sail, but because doing so on what would essentially be my home didn't sound like a very good idea. So.
What I'm looking for is a float-on trailerable (weight won't be an issue), forgiving boat that won't leave me going nowhere on a light wind day. It must also be affordable, let's say no more than 12,000 dollars or so and preferably in the 5-10 thousand range (I'm not exactly drawing engineer's or stock broker's pay). But it need not be new because I have some pretty good experience restoring powerboats and a background in general contracting. Also, as I've said, I should have considerable time to work before the next sailing season. Draft shouldn't be much of an issue because Belton Lake is a dammed reservoir with depths of over one hundred feet for much of the lake. However, there's still the issue of floating it onto and off of a trailer. I'll be using the boat in primarily lake water with a 1-3 foot chop, and possibly bay areas once I get confident. A small cabin would be nice for doing an occasional weekender aboard.
One more note: I'd like to learn to sail on as close to a classic sailboat as I can, so please don't recommend anything too simple. I enjoy a steep learning curve and a challenge. To me that's half the fun.
I know I'm a bit long winded, and if you're still reading then thank you for getting this far. Any suggestions on which boats to look for would be much appreciated, as well as any other tips on what to watch out for... Danger signs if you will.
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with a novice.