Thank-you so much for all the input. Out of the Hunter/Beneteau/Catalina, does any one have a better track record for service/maintenance than the others?
What I'm looking for is performance under sail and a comfortable cabin at anchor for entertaining. The fractional rig is for performance (for me) and an easier to handle jib (for my wife). Once I check off as much of my list as I can, my primary concern will be ease of maintenance. Sadly, skipper charters tend to frown on me poking around with the engine or electrical systems.
As long as I'm asking stupid questions: marina or yacht club?
I think it's safe to say that Catalina has the best builder/owner support base, stories abound of personal service and followup, along with a strong owners' association for the mainstream Catalina models.
I'm with you on the fractional rig.. but the point being it does rather severely limit your options if that's a deal breaker. Most of the Beneteau "Firsts" will qualify, but they are slanted towards performance rather than comfort and won't have the cruising amenities the Oceanus models will have. Not exactly austere/stripped out, but less comfort and storage. (FWIW we've done many many miles in the Caribbean on a Bene First 36.7 without hardship.. but the B 361 has more space, more storage and much bigger galley) Again, have a good look at the 89-94 Hunter Legends - they may well tick all your boxes - esp the 37.5.. the 35.5 will leave money left over. btw these boats don't have the (IMO oddball) B&R rig with diamond stays and no backstay.
Marina or Yacht Club? Look at the long term financials and the wait lists. Many YCs have significant buy-ins, but drastically cheaper moorage rates, so do the math and see what the payback time is on the initiation, plus factor in the support benefits of the club (social, facilities, outstations, all stuff you may not get with any old marina) There are also, for lack of a better word, 'snooty' clubs that may be difficult to get into... then you need to decide if you enjoy that kind of organization/association... but they often offer other advantages too.
We are in a marina but belong to a couple of small clubs for those other aspects.. in our case we can't get moorage in either club.