Join Date: Aug 2010
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Any of the 22-25 ft boats that have been reasonably well maintained will do what you want. Be aware that the more you spend on a boat the more you either lose or have to get out of it when you sell. Used gear(sails) can help keep costs down. A shorter boat is less expensive to berth and to maintain. Unless you have lots of friends, a 22/23 will work fine. The smaller boat can be sailed with less reliance on winches for halyards and sheets. Being able to adjust the main quickly, lets you learn to play the gusts and you gain some of the dinghy skills without going swiming. On the 6ft thing - it's really about how limber you are. You will be on your knees or sitting on a small boat. If that is not a problem for you, the small boat won't be either. To get full standing headroom is a challenge, but look at boats with a pop top. An open hatch where you need to stand helps too, just be carefull when/where you stand. I'm 6-4 and did Ok on a 5-4 clear cabin. Try a few and see what works for you. But the point is, you do not need standing head room.
Toilets - if you have a girl friend/wife, they will love an electric toilet. It takes a big boat or a creative installation to support one, but is worth the time and money. A very good excuse to buy up when the time comes. In the interim, a good quality porta-poty is as good as a manual marine head. Self contained requires less space and is not so likely to be a maintenance problem. You want to sail, not fix things.
A thought to consider - It's difficult to find, but some folks want separation, even in a small boat. Separate head, separate sleeping, separate storage, separate cooking. Others can do it all in one space. Figure out what you like/need. That will drive you to the type of boat you like.
A boat can be stored on a trailer at a boat yard. Cheap haul out.
Finally - get a tiller - you have time to use a wheel when you retire.