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Old 10-24-2012
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Looking for my first boat

Hope this is the right place to post this. A little background. My wife and I are new to the hobby/lifestyle of sailing. We are looking to start enjoying the water. We are still very new and very dumb with sailing so please bear with me and us on the stupid questions.
Where we are in this process. We are wanting to start out on Lake Lanier here in Atlanta and eventually get out on the open water. We are wanting to do overnight and weekend trips now and hopefully transition to living aboard in a few years or so. So we are thinking of 23-30 foot. I'm thinking fixed keel so we won't have to upgrade immediately to get out onto open water. Obviously a head and galley area are kind of important. I'm tall (6'3") but am not overly concerned with height as i'm somewhat accustom to watching my head but I don't wanna have to crawl on my knees. I'm thinking sleeping 4 as we would probably eventually have the in laws or other couple coming with us some. A wind direction indicator of some sort, GPS and depth gauge are a bit important I think. A way to cook will be somewhat important too but I think a portable grill can suffice for the time being.
Ok, so dumb questions:
1) what is the problem with buying a boat that's been on the dry for a long time? I know there are a lot of seals and stuff that can break down, but I'm thinking structurally. I can repair just about anything (my other hobby is woodworking) but I do understand there comes a point where fixing something is just not worth it. I understand the cost vs value issue. That's why I'm looking at structural issues and such.
2) What issues to look for on a boat? I know to look at the hull integrity, keel damage, rudder issues, chain plates and and soft spots in the deck etc. But what kind of things are really deal killer type things? Like some soft spots may not be as bad as others, right?
3) inboard vs outboard? Pros and cons? Is there a rule of thumb of some sort on the size of the motor to the size of the boat? Diesel or gas? Does it really matter or is it a tree hugger personal preference thing?
4) Any specific features to look for?

Ok, I think I've made myself look like enough of a newbie. Thanks for the advice and insight. I've been trying to immerse myself in this and take it all in so please feel free to throw out any advice you have.

Thanks!!
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