@ Shock - Yes, I'm amazed at the amount of compromise when it comes to sailing and boats. As for the full keel, I've heard or read that very same thing from alot of experienced people.
@ Minn - I totally agree with you about the skipper defining what their boat can and can't do. I see videos of these racers in the southern ocean litterally flying through and sometimes over the water in the kind of conditions they live in day in and day out. Cruising on a boat with no timekeeper through a gale would probably seem like a little inconvenience whereas a newbie like me would be chewing through his lip! Experience definitely counts.
I don't see how that little boat carried all that testicular fortitude across an ocean! Jeez!!!
@ Arpegecap - What you said seems to follow along with Minn in that the crew is usually the weak link. That is apparent when reading about many of the rescues that members post in the forum. In regards to boat ratings, do you feel that the manufacturers add a little hype to their advertising or are these ratings assigned to them by a third party? It seems that almost all the advertising written by sellers on sites such as yachtworld want me to believe their boat is offshore capable.
(A quick note on that. I believe that for any boat you care to name, there is someone willing and capable enough to do the seemingly impossible with it. The photo posted earlier proves that. My question is not whether a boat with an exceptional skipper/crew CAN go offshore but rather if a boat with an average skipper/crew SHOULD go offshore.)
I added your suggestion of easy motion to the list. I meant to add easily handled sail plan but forgot. I'll remedy that shortly. Thanks for the input!
@ Killarney - I must agree that the cost of older heavier boats appear at least initially more affordable. Almost all the boats on my short list are full keeled heavy displacement boats. I also agree that I'll probably start an argument by talking hull design. Hee hee! Your boat sounds great though and it sounds like she does what you want her to do. I'm curious about the centerboard. I've decided to stay away from those because of the reason you stated; another complication. The versatility sounds great but do you ever worry about the cable breaking or experiencing leaks? Have you ever grounded with it down? The more I talk about it though, it may be a great option for the bay and coastal catagories along with extended cruising.
To all - This list idea is my attempt to get past the sales pitch, the hype, and the marketing headgames to find out what's really important to look for in a boat depending on the principal use it will see. I've seen postings stating a boat will take it's owners to the farthest reaches of the globe. That sounds great and inspires dreams. And yet when I look at the photos, the cockpit is huge, there is no bridgedeck, the companionway opening is open to the sole, and it has huge windows. From what I've read, none of these things are desireable from a safety standpoint in a blue water boat.
I do realize that some of those things can be upgraded. From a newbie's perspective though, I will be more likely to buy a boat suitable to my needs that will perform in comfort and safety by knowing what to look for in the design of the boat rather than depending on the claims of others. The responses so far are a great start. Thanks to all!