Re: Looking for an Alajuela 33.
Snider, I bought a somewhat neglected but sound A-33 about 2 1/2 years ago.
I've done lots of work bringing systems up to date or upgrading--new hoses, second battery bank and all new high-current DC wiring, new water tank, lots of cosmetic catching-up, the list is several pages long, actually.
But it was really all stuff that just was outdated or too old. I haven't found any big weaknesses common to the boats that come to mind. But don't underestimate the effects of time. I've found some minor, isolated manufacturing shortcuts that probably relate more to the guy who was working that day than to the boats generically. I have no regrets so far.
I have sailed it on Lake Champlain for 2 years and motored on rivers and canals. I've not sailed it on the ocean; that comes this year.
There is some weather helm. I presume it's related to mast rake but am not certain. The rudder was made for a wheel, but I chose to switch to a tiller (a quick, bolt-on change except for adding new engine controls). The tiller is heavy, but I still prefer the simplicity and aesthetics.
It seems pretty fast for a boat its size, and I've found it pretty manoeverable in tight spaces. I single-hand it without any problems, though obviously some moves are always easier with a crew.
The inside is roomy and the quality of the joinery is impressive. The deck hardware is all chrome-plated bronze and first-rate. The overall construction and the rig is quite heavy and solid, and I've found no deck core problems or blisters to date. The Westerbeke 27 has been plenty adequate.
Hope that answers some of your questions.