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Old 06-09-2006
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You're going to have to make compromises. All of us who boat do. Most newbie mistakes are in buying too big. I know people who live on 30 foot boats, and those who cruise on smaller boats. There is a lot to be said for buying a Catalina or Newport 30 or the like and using it for a year or two to learn the local area and learn a lot you will need to know about boats. Nice boats in this range can be had for 15-20k and annual expenses will be half what a 36 footer will be. They will also be much easier to handle and maintain. Enjoy your endeavor and pursue your dreams, but don't rule out starting small, any money you loose on your first boat will be minuscule compared to the mistake you could make by getting the wrong large boat.
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