Re: Ericson 29...2 hours...
Ah, I wouldn't be so skeptical. I definitely think this boat is worth looking at if it fits within your criteria. Sometimes you just gotta take the leap.
We bought our first boat this past summer (1981 Seafarer 26) at a slightly higher price point, but not by much. We also couldn't justify the cost of a professional survey, but I think you can tell a lot about how well a boat has been maintained just by going through it yourself. If the owner has skipped over routine maintenance items that you can see, then that will tell you something. In our case, the boat had been meticulously maintained and we had the opportunity to spend a few hours going over everything with the seller. I guess we could get unlucky with something big failing (like the Yanmar) but that's a risk that we knew we were taking on.
The money we spent on the boat was an amount we felt comfortable taking from savings, and we made sure we could swing the known costs such as mooring, winter storage, etc.
On the day we closed on the boat, the former owner helped me get the sails on, hook up the batteries, start the engine, and away we went. We used the boat every single weekend and many weeknights until we sadly had to haul for the winter last month. Wife and I agreed almost every time we were on the boat that it was the best investment we've ever made.
There's no time like the present.