Have you been reading the thread started by BubbleheadMD about buying a Pearson 30?
While you did not specify your budget, you might look at a few larger boats, say up to 30feet before deciding on the 26. There was a time when I thought a 25' boat would hang the moon, but now feel that a 30 footer is almost ideal. The cost of maintenance will be only one step more expensive (size of rigging being the most obvious item) and since most marinas basically charge for 30 feet as a minimum, you might as well fill up the slip with boat. The handling of a 30 is no more difficult or complex than a 26 once you get over the psychological barrier and you will have a much more comfortable boat for weekending and that week long summer cruise. And finally, now is a really good time to be buying a boat, you might get a deal you will never see again.