... I'd love ton know what others think about the hard dinghy versus soft dinghy choice, and how a 35' yacht with no deck storage might finesse these choices.
That's an interminable debate here and in sailing circles.
We get along real well with our hard rowing/sailing dinghies -- after a decade of cruising the Chesapeake we still haven't missed an outboard. Of course, we could put a small outboard on them if we ever needed to. But the rowing and sailing has always met our needs. That's where the hard dinghies really shine.
But it depends on your cruising grounds, too. In more exposed areas, with longer runs ashore -- sometimes even through moderate surf conditions -- outboards and inflatables have their use.
We are currently running a Dyer Midget (7'10") and a CLC Passagemaker Dinghy
(11'7"). Sometime in the next year or two, we'll probably build a CLC Eastport Pram
(7'9") as our primary sailing dinghy for the mothership (currently we switch off between the Dyer and the Passagemaker).
P.S. Congrats on your first post, and a belated welcome to Sailnet!