Re: My 1st boat, 1979 22 Catalina, swing keel...need some advice
The C22 is an excellent choice for a first cruising boat! They're inexpensive to buy and maintain, and easy to sell whenever you get ready, and a good learning platform. They're easily trailered and open your world to adventure on weekends and vacations.
It doesn't look like she has ever had a coat of antifouling paint, which means she has probably been trailered all her life, and has not been sailed much in salt water, and that's good, but, before you leave her in the water for very long in San Diego, you'll want to paint the bottom and keel. My suggestion is that you use a good quality ablative paint. I use WM's PCA Gold. It's a little expensive, but it's usually on sale about this time of year, your boat won't take much, and it will save you labor down the road.
The cracks on the side indicate that she must have taken a hard hit at some time, but it appears to be cosmetic, and, if you didn't spend much on the boat and trailer, I'd forget about it. The scratches in the rudder suggest someone turned the rudder hard while the motor was running, and the prop probably gouged it. It also looks cosmetic. They don't look too deep. If they are, you might want to fill them with something like Marine Tex. Oh yeah, and don't turn the rudder hard into the prop in the future.
You can buy parts from Catalina Direct, and since you don't know the complete history of the boat, you should probably replace the swing keel cable and turning ball. You should also look at any thru hull valves, and, if it has any, replace them if they are the original gate valves that Catalina used on small boats back then. Gate valves weren't very good and they were, on rare occasion, known to have catastrophic failure. But those things are just basic long term maintenance and upgrades.
The gel coat looks like it's not badly chalked, and I'd suggest you apply cleaner and wax to the hull, but not the deck. If you apply it by hand, with a dampened cloth, and wipe it off using an inexpensive automobile buffer, it's an easy job, and it will look great. Once it's clean, then one coat of wax per year will keep it looking good.