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.
What you're planning for is fairly close to my recent experience, so I'll share some thoughts- firstly, you might consider a smallish (~ 25 ft) boat for now, while you're on the lake and then look to move up when you start on the ocean. I say this because once you have a first boat you will start to learn what really works for you and what doesn't. For example, you say that you're 6'3" but don't mind stooping a bit. That's fine for day sailing and some weekends, but once you're living aboard it probably won't be. I'm 6'1" and I had to stoop a bit on my first boat. Once I started spending weekends aboard it got old. It's nice to be able to stand up straight.
Also, I wouldn't worry to much about a full vs fin keel. Unless you're planning to cross oceans you can sail just fine with a fin keel. I don't know what your lake is like as far as depth but you may need a shallower draft on the lake than you would on the coast.
And if you want room to sleep 4 adults in reasonable comfort you're probably going to want something around 30 ft or more. So if I was in your situation (and I sort of was a few years ago) I would spend some time thinking seriously about whether I should go small and simple for now, and then move up in a few years (which is what I ended up doing), or try to find a bigger (and less simple to maintain) boat right from the start.
Either way, best of luck to you...