Originally Posted by Jeff_H
The one thing that I will say in response to Candianseamonkey's comment is that old certainly does not mean better. In my experience, newer boats are way better built than the boats of yore, and frankly are sturdier (and less paper thin) than many, if not most of the production boats of the 1970's and early 1980's.
For example, CSM's example of the Catalina 30, there are few modern boats (say 20 or so years old) that were more paper thin and poorly put together than the older Catalina 30's. The oil canning of the hull can be heard with almost every wave, and over time fiberglass is greatly weakened by fatigue that come with that kind of repetative flexure.
In the past 20 or so years, hull structural engineering, construction techniques, and the general build quality of the systems have come a very long way. In this modern period, there has been an increased awareness of the need for developing and adhering to safe construction standards, standard which did not even exist before the mid-1980's.
There is a misconception that earlier boats were heavier and better built. The studies and my direct experience actually working on these older designs says that this simply is not the case.
Jeff, wow! I've never heard anybody say that today's fiberglass is applied thicker than in the '70s. It's quite the opposite actually. The fiberglass back then was layed up in multiple layers as the builders didn't really know the strength of the material at that point. Many of today's sailboats hulls are so thin that, when sitting inside you can see the silouhettes of people on the docks. Also, I'm not a big Catalina fan, but given the OP's budget, it's a good fit and just an example. I'll stick with my good old boat, thanks.